“What’s true of all the evils in the world is true of plague as well. It helps humankind to rise above themselves.” ― John M. Barry, The Great Influenza: The Story of the Deadliest Pandemic in History
We are in the midst of a black swan situation as the coronavirus pandemic continues to pose an extreme threat to the global community. The outbreak is disrupting millions of lives around the world and my heart goes out to the people who have been affected in a myriad of ways. Let us pay tribute to the healthcare workers and essential staff who have been on the frontlines to ensure the running of our communities. Sadly, there is no crystal ball we can look into to see a clear ending for this period, until a vaccine is developed.
In the meantime, as business leaders, we are faced with intricate challenges in mitigating the impact of this pandemic. It starts with safeguarding the health of our stakeholders, ensuring the job security of our employees and closely followed by maintaining business continuity.
At Arçelik, we took many precautions early on in the pandemic, learning from our operations in China. Those experiences helped us implement strict and definitive measures in all our facilities and continue to meet the needs of our customers within the limits of working regulations. Thanks to these measures, we can sustain our manufacturing operations and we have no internally transmitted cases among our people. As a global home appliances manufacturer, it is critical to maintain our activities with minimum disruption. With more than one third of the global population in some form of lockdown and people spending more time at home, we have a greater responsibility to continue to provide home appliances, as the ability to stay at home depends on food security and hygiene.
We are also stepping up to the challenge with key initiatives that support the healthcare system. We joined forces with leading names in technology, aviation and the military to undertake the serial production of mechanical ventilators that play a life-saving role in COVID-19 treatments. This not-for-profit basis project is a collective effort led by the Turkish Ministry of Industry and Technology and the Ministry of Health. Proudly, in just two weeks we have managed to deliver the first batch of the ventilators to hospitals treating COVID-19 patients. Another patch has been sent to Somalia, a country which didn’t even have a single one. Our engineers and production teams are working round the clock to deliver 5,000 units by the end of this month.
We are more motivated than ever to play a part in the collective effort to support the frontline healthcare community. With another global initiative, we have donated white goods and small domestic appliances to 600 hospitals around the world to meet vital needs of healthcare staff who put their lives on the line.
Adapting to the ‘New Normal’
Pandemics are not new to human history, yet this outbreak exposes the fragility of our social order and the unsustainable economic model. We are facing a perfect storm and we will both see short and long-term implications.
The immense amount of liquidity that is being pumped in by governments will distort markets for a long time. We need to see through those distortions make sure were not basking in the temporary comfort it brings and prepare our companies for a very different future. The difficult decisions need to be made and the pace of change must be accelerated. Only then will we be serving society as a whole including our customers and shareholders. As business leaders we need to figure out sustainable solutions, stand up to the challenge with new innovations that help the society to thrive, whilst never losing our respect for science and nature.
The global economy will be shaped by new regulations and behaviors based on reduced close-contact and hygiene restrictions. In a broader sense, we will see dramatic shifts in production and consumption patterns, the way we run our business, work, utilize technology, interact with appliances, travel, care for our health and protect the environment.
All these angles deserve dedicated attention, and I will address each of them in my following blog posts starting with the climate crisis; the one where no concrete solution has yet been found. This virus is a wake-up call and what’s coming next is an infinitely larger one that we will have great difficulty dealing with as humanity.
This period also provides a historical opportunity for humanity. I don’t like to say I’m an optimist, but instead I choose optimism. This gives me the urge to act as a father who wants his children’s generation to have a brighter future. I believe what we are starting to discover in our new lives will point us in the right direction to redefine our civilization and build a better world together.