The following message is an excerpt of a letter shared with employees this week from our President & CEO, Chip Bergh.
While we’ve been dealing with the coronavirus for about two months now, with each day that passes, the magnitude of the human and economic impact only gets worse. We are experiencing a once-in-a-century event. It’s now been three days since I’ve left the house, and one thing that’s become clear to me is that this experience will leave an indelible impact on all of us and our families. It’s possible that the coming weeks and months will change the world as we know it. I also realize the decisions I make and the approach that we take during this crisis will be defining for who we are as a company.
As I write this, the County of San Francisco, where our headquarters is located, has declared a three-week “shelter-in-place” directive, mirroring orders in other countries where we operate. And as hard as everything seems right now, it’s likely that the worst is still to come for most countries and markets.
Through this time of crisis, we will continue to be guided by our values and doing the harder right over the easier wrong. We will need to be nimble, to adjust and adapt as we face unprecedented choices. We decided to close all of our stores in the United States and Canada, ahead of any government mandate, for the safety of our employees and for the good of the communities we serve. We have done this in many other parts of the world where the virus is progressing because we know that limiting exposure is vital to stopping its spread.
We are a team, united by the common bond of working for this great company with such extraordinary values. A company that has been through it all over 167 years. World wars. The Great Depression. Earthquakes. Fires. Yes, even the Spanish Flu. In every crisis, this company pulled together and we figured it out. We took care of one another, and by taking care of one another, we also took care of business. And it’s already clear that we are going to do so again through this crisis.
I am an optimist at heart. One of the things motivating me through this difficult time is the idea that we can learn and adapt and adjust so we emerge stronger as a result of this test. (This is true on a personal level too, where I’m asking myself how can I become a better leader and better husband/father during this crisis and come out of this a better person.)
This will pass. We will get through this together and be a better and stronger company as a result of it.