Jun 18, 2020
By Crystal Barnes
How employees around the world have found new ways to give back for the company’s annual day of service.
For 23 consecutive years, thousands of Viacom employees have gathered at hundreds of sites around the world to rebuild and re-energize their communities in an outpouring of goodwill that was called “Viacommunity Day.” When Viacom joined forces with CBS—whose employees had their own decades-long history of giving back—last December, we looked forward to uniting and enhancing our traditions under the ViacomCBS umbrella this spring.
Then COVID-19 shut down the world.
Overnight, 20,000-plus ViacomCBS employees were working from home. Our television and film productions froze. Gatherings of any kind or any size for any reason were suspended until further notice. And in many ways, life, it seemed, was on hold.
None of this diminished our employees’ deep-seated spirit of generosity and concern for their neighbors. They made it clear to our team , through emails, virtual meetings and DMs, that their isolation had not dampened their desire to care for our communities, and do so together. Management at all levels across the company supported the idea. It is in that spirit of irrepressible goodwill and restless creativity that the first ViacomCBS Virtual Community Day was born.
"It is our ongoing commitment to each other and our communities to do more, together. "
This week and in the weeks ahead, ViacomCBS employees around the world will pour their talents and their energy and their hearts into helping individuals and organizations in need. They will consult with nonprofits on better business strategies. They will mentor students with America on Tech. They will host social issues discussions with the ACLU and lead virtual learning hours with Breakthrough New York and provide feedback to young writers and transcribe records for the Smithsonian Museum. And they will help World Food Program USA and Urban School Food Alliance donate 50,000 meals through the atlasGO global health and wellness challenge. They will do it all online, a changed approach for a changed world.
Over the past weeks, we have seen people of all backgrounds unite to speak out against the systemic racism and police violence that has impacted so many victims of racial injustice and most recently led to George Floyd’s tragic murder. While there is much work to be done, the protests, in their scope and duration, have been inspiring. It is in this same spirit of civic renewal and institutional change that ViacomCBS employees reach out to their neighbors in need, their generosity undiminished by distance. Beyond the day, it is our ongoing commitment to each other and our communities to do more, together. Here are a few of our stories.
Crystal Barnes is the SVP for Corporate Social Responsibility and Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) Strategy & Reporting at ViacomCBS. She oversees company-wide initiatives that extend ViacomCBS’ deep legacy and expertise in social impact, philanthropy, and community and employee engagement.