WHU General

Corporate Responsibility During The Crisis

How WHU alumni are getting into action to cushion the consequences of Corona for society

The corona crisis is currently imposing great burdens on society. The lockdown brought severe cuts for companies and private individuals alike. Some graduates of WHU - Otto Beisheim School of Management understood this early on as a call to action to adapt their business models in a more charitable way for society. For them, in times of crisis, the focus is less on stakeholders and more on corporate responsibility. WHU's commitment to a strong community is thus visibly transferred to areas of society outside the business school.

Corporate responsibility - more than just lip service

Firstly, corporate responsibility describes the sense of responsibility towards the social, ecological and economic consequences of companies’ business activities. In this context, corporate responsibility cannot be thought of without stipulated ethical concepts and far-reaching transparency.

Help where it is needed most urgently

"We quickly realized that currently there is a higher possibility for people, who most urgently need help in their neighborhood, to be cut off: older people who belong to the risk group and no longer dare to go to the supermarket or pharmacy," states Christian Vollmann, co-founder of the internet platform nebenan.de and WHU alumnus. Founded in 2015, nebenan.de today links more than 1.5 million neighbors nationwide. Neighborhood assistance and mutual solidarity are the company's goals. Due to the contact restrictions caused by the corona crisis, the platform enables people to organize fast and free help with walking dogs, going shopping, or errands for at-risk groups. In doing so, nebenan.de also considers the habits of older people. "In addition to the ’Corona help from next door’ hotline, we call on our users to offer their help not only online, but also by posting notices for example," Vollmann continues. Because older people in particular do not always look for help on the Internet. Support for neighbors in the same postal code area has been significantly enhanced by COVID-19. The offers of help now exceed the requests by far. The WHU alumnus emphasizes that corporate responsibility is particularly important for nebenan.de: "The social benefit of the platform is more important than making a profit. At nebenan.de the needs of the users will always come first".

Fighting Corona via app

There are numerous other examples of WHU alumni companies that emphasize social responsibility during the corona crisis, including Plusdental and Frischepost. The non-profit organization Data4Life, whose CEO is WHU alumnus Christian Weiß, has developed the "CovApp" together with the Charité in Berlin. In order to avoid having all patients show up at the university hospital in person, the app offers a questionnaire that analyzes in advance whether an examination or a COVID-19 test makes sense at all. "If resources in the health care system can be conserved through apps, for the time being, this means a high benefit for the patients, and ultimately for the entire population," says Professor Christian Hagist from the Chair of Economic and Social Policy at WHU.  

Relying on an app to combat the spread of the Coronavirus is also part of the strategy of the German government. In the end it always boils down to the question of the security of one’s own data. "As long as there is no obligation to use such apps, it is up to each individual to use them or not", Christian Hagist continues. "In my opinion, this pressure alone will suffice to ensure that those responsible for the app adequately protect the generated data from misuse".