Corporate Social Responsibility in the Era of Coronavirus

Editor’s Note: Cynthia J. Pasky is the president and CEO of Strategic Staffing Solutions, an international staffing company headquartered in Detroit. One of the most influential women in business, Pasky also chairs the Downtown Detroit Partnership. In this column written for The PuLSE Institute, Detroit’s anti-poverty think tank, she explains how companies should protect their employees and respond to the coronavirus pandemic in Detroit, where many are living in poverty. For submission inquiries contact Bankole Thompson, the editor-in-chief of the Institute at

By Cynthia J. Pasky

The PuLSE Institute

By now, we’re all settled into the new normal of managing our businesses remotely while simultaneously responding to a daily barrage of coronavirus updates and new policies. And while we’re busily tending to the health of our employees and family, it’s difficult to think beyond that. But we must.

Imagine that you’ve just lost your job – through no fault of your own – because your job doesn’t allow you to work from home. Imagine worse still, that you’re living on the streets during this pandemic.

Many people in our city live precariously close to the poverty line. Without regular nutritious meals, financial security and access to healthcare, the coronavirus isn’t just a health risk. It is catastrophic on every front. The scenarios become even more dire for those homeless people living on our streets. Social distancing is difficult if not impossible in homeless shelters and soup kitchens. One person with the COVID-19 virus sleeping in a shelter is all it would take to spread that virus to every single person within that structure.

We have been fortunate at Strategic Staffing Solutions (S3). As an IT company, we were able to give our employees the option to work from home well before Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer issued the “Stay Home Stay Safe” order. We were able to mobilize quickly without skipping a beat. Other businesses are not faring as well.

Small businesses throughout Detroit are suffering right now, agonizing over laying off their employees, spending sleepless nights wondering whether they’ll make payroll – and worse – shuttering their businesses. Often times it’s the employees of these businesses who will find themselves abruptly without a paycheck, healthcare, or even a home.

There can be a temptation during times of crisis to pull back, think of yourself and your loved ones only, but if ever there was a time to support others, this is it. Now more than ever, business leaders and companies have an obligation to provide the assistance that our community’s poor and working poor need. What can we do for them? A lot, it turns out. 

One of Strategic Staffing Solutions’ founding principles is making community work and charitable giving a core part of its business. S3 has made donations to local homeless shelters and ensured that a non-profit organization’s payroll was met. As this pandemic continues to unfold, causing unprecedented circumstances, S3 will look for ways to help.

We will make it through this crisis as we have every other. In difficult times, we must remember: We may not have as much control as we’d like over circumstances, but we can always control our response to them.

An S3 employee shared a remarkably simple but eloquent quote that says everything about how we can respond: “Together we can. Apart we cannot.”

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