The COVID-19 pandemic impacted each person across the globe in 2020. Our corporate values helped guide our responses to this crisis and our priority throughout the pandemic has been and continues to be the safety and care of people.
Supporting Our Customers
Approximately 50% of the global population is vision challenged, and for many, the best way to see, and therefore work and care for others, is with contact lenses. Similarly, women's health has remained critical during this pandemic.
When the pandemic hit, governments around the world began implementing new guidelines for public safety. We had to act fast to ensure that our products continued to reach our consumers and medical providers without interruption. We pivoted to keep manufacturing and distribution facilities operational while making the health and safety of our global employee base our top priority.
We assembled a global task force comprised of senior executives, including our CEO, the Presidents of CooperVision (CVI) and CooperSurgical (CSI), our General Counsel and Head of Human Resources (HR). This group drove the approval of global protocols, set philosophy on how to support employees and reviewed communications.
In addition, we created regional and division level leadership teams to adapt our work policies and procedures to the evolving governmental directives of each country and region in which we operate. These groups also partnered to share best practices, educational materials and solve problems collectively. This two-tiered approach enabled both global consistency and speed in our responses to local health and safety requirements.
We moved swiftly to shift our operations and retrain our employees where necessary. We also altered work arrangements to comply with physical distancing and cleaning protocols. At our Liege, Belgium distribution facility we adopted new procedures to comply with local requirements in just six hours.
Many of our customers are healthcare workers and our commercial teams shifted from in-person visits to virtual meetings. Product training also moved online, and we expanded customer coaching to include our pandemic-related efforts, such as our personal protective equipment (PPE) plans. We developed interactive, digital training programs for eye care, medical, fertility and genomics professionals to continue to support their work. Optometrists, fertility specialists and gynecologists are often small business owners and we offered extended payment terms and discounted shipping where possible.
Despite the challenges, our leaders drove the businesses forward. We were able to roll out product advancements in our genetic testing business and increase production capacity for our daily disposable lenses. CVI also worked with eye care professionals to expand direct-to-patient home deliveries and support services.
Supporting Our Employees
We quickly realized that personal experiences of the pandemic varied widely, and we responded with multi-faceted solutions to support our dispersed and diverse employee population. Our efforts were intentionally focused on providing what was most helpful. This included health and safety actions, financial, physical and emotional support, education and training, child- and elder-care leave, and consistent, clear and empathetic communications centered on strength, hope, pride and unity.
Health and Safety
We immediately set-up division level task forces and followed global and domestic health agency guidelines to implement robust health and safety programs for employees working in our manufacturing and distribution facilities. These efforts included distributing PPE, enhancing sanitation, physical distancing, working as intact teams to reduce contact, taking employee temperatures upon entry, onsite COVID-19 testing, establishing triage zones for employees with high temperatures, contact tracing and creating return-to-work policies.
Office employees immediately shifted to remote work where possible. For those people in the office, we implemented in-office rotations and time limits to keep density low. We added physical distancing measures such as one-way walk hallways and rearranged office layouts, and increased sanitation protocols across our operations. We delivered additional training to managers and employees to help everyone navigate the new working conditions.
Financial, Physical, Emotional Well-Being
The financial, physical and mental well-being of our employees remains paramount. When our plants were temporarily shut down, we provided full pay, benefits, and repurposed employee time to focus on training and development. We are especially proud to have had zero involuntary reductions due to COVID-19.
We also provided employees with additional paid time off, whether they needed it to find alternate childcare or eldercare, or to care for themselves or a sick loved one. Our teams around the world also explored new and creative ways to stay connected, keep spirits and motivation high, and encourage health and wellness. Examples of programs enthusiastically implemented by our employees around the world include virtual workouts, cookbook creations, enjoying virtual musicals together, global meditation programs, and a rainbow campaign that invited employees and their families to share positive messages of hope. We offered workshops on resilience, on working remotely, on managing stress and highlighted how our benefits program can assist during these challenging times.
We hosted virtual town halls, provided weekly site leadership communications and housed information on health and other COVID-19 updates in our employee portal. Our frequent communications created transparency on how Cooper was responding to the pandemic, provided guidance on how our people could get the help they needed.
Supporting Our Communities
As the world faced one of its toughest public health crises in history, we looked for opportunities to help where we could.
For example, in 2020, through CooperVision (CVI)'s Essential Hospital Workers Complimentary Contact Lens Program, nearly 570 optometry practices from 46 states and the District of Columbia provided complimentary contact lenses via CVI - one box per eye, per patient - to essential hospital workers.
Additionally, our inventive employees redesigned laboratories and worked with a consortium of companies in our supply chain to produce surface cleaners and hand sanitizer at our manufacturing sites in the United Kingdom and Puerto Rico. We distributed these throughout the community to the National Health Service, hospitals, schools, community facilities, care homes, police and fire departments, and charities, and offered it to employees.
We donated 20,000 disposable masks, sanitization kits and additional PPE to Emergency Management personnel, fire fighters and local police. Additionally, we repurposed office food budgets to assist local communities.
While the pandemic has been incredibly challenging for all of us, we are proud of how we came together as an organization to continue to care for each other, our communities and people across the world.