Monday, May 10, 2021
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Companies scramble to protect their workers from India’s Covid surge

Financial providers companies have outsourced an enormous variety of info know-how and operations jobs to India in latest many years, attracted by an informed workforce and cheaper labor prices. Almost 4.4 million individuals within the nation are employed in IT and enterprise course of administration, in accordance to the National Association of Software and Service Companies, a commerce physique.

In order to maintain their operations on-line, banks are shifting work to different international locations, encouraging workers to work from residence and increasing challenge deadlines. Indian firms that present providers to Wall Street are taking further steps to protect workers in cities reminiscent of Bangalore, Pune, Hyderabad and Delhi, in some circumstances establishing Covid care facilities for workers and their households.

Remote work, which is applied for nearly all workers at Goldman Sachs (GS) and Wells Fargo (WFC), for instance, is one step to retaining the workforce secure and companies functioning.

A Wells Fargo spokesperson advised CNN Business that the financial institution just isn’t experiencing “significant impacts” to its operations. It is supporting native communities with greater than $3 million in grants.

Goldman Sachs final week introduced a $10 million donation to help the battle towards the pandemic in India. The funding financial institution has workplaces in Bangalore, Hyderabad and Mumbai.

“Our focus is on the overall health and safety of our people and their families, during this unprecedented health crisis in India,” stated Gunjan Samtani, head of Goldman Sachs Services in India. “We continue to be resilient in the execution of our business functions.”

But working from residence throughout a pandemic is sophisticated, particularly if workers have to take care of sick kinfolk. There are additionally challenges round safety and knowledge safety, since workers could also be dealing with delicate firm or buyer info.

Bank of America (BAC), one other US financial institution with operations in India, declined to remark.

London responds

UK banks Barclays (BCS), NatWest (NWG) and Standard Chartered (SCBFF) are in some circumstances redirecting work to different international locations to relieve stress on workers in India, a lot of who’ve fallen in poor health or have care tasks at residence.

“We are shifting some capacity to the UK and appreciate what our colleagues here are doing,” Barclays CEO Jes Staley stated on a name with reporters on Friday. Barclays employs roughly 20,000 individuals in India, making it the financial institution’s largest worker hub exterior Britain.

Barclays has elevated donations to native charities for important provides reminiscent of meals, masks and oxygen concentrators and is offering further medical insurance coverage to workers for Covid-related remedy bills.

NatWest CEO Alison Rose advised analysts that the corporate has “relieved some of the pressure” on its again workplace operations in India: “We’re putting a lot of support in there … our main focus is really on supporting our colleagues,” she added.

The financial institution — which employs 13,000 individuals in India virtually completely in again workplace roles — hasn’t moved any capabilities out the nation however is extending supply instances for non-essential initiatives to handle workloads.

India's Covid-19 crisis is a problem for the world

The firm is offering workers with entry to digital medical providers and reimbursements for Covid-19 vaccinations. It can be donating funds that may go towards rolling out vaccines in India and elsewhere.

Standard Chartered CEO Bill Winters stated the financial institution has “rebalanced loads” between service facilities in Chennai and Bangalore. It has 100 branches in 43 cities throughout India, most of which it has saved open, in addition to again workplace operations.

“We have material case counts amongst our population, both in our service center and in the bank itself,” Winters advised analysts on a name final week. “Banks are considered essential services so we’ve had a disproportionate share of cases in the branch staff unfortunately,” he added.

In a press release shared with CNN Business, Standard Chartered Bank India stated it’s offering personal transportation to workers who should work in an workplace, and has been securing hospitalization and different essential care merchandise reminiscent of medical oxygen for its workers. The financial institution can be facilitating vaccination drives throughout Bangalore and Chennai for employees and their households by partnering with native well being authorities and hospitals.

HSBC (HSBC), which employs 39,000 individuals in India, is donating $11.5 million towards Covid aid efforts this 12 months, together with vaccine rollouts via the worldwide shot program Covax.

Following the Indian authorities’s announcement that adults over 18 will probably be eligible for vaccines from May 1, the financial institution is mobilizing efforts to get doses to workers. “We will do all we can to help you to access the vaccines,” CEO Noel Quinn stated in a put up on LinkedIn.

Beyond banks

It’s not simply banks that depend on India to maintain their operations functioning. Companies on the periphery of economic providers, reminiscent of consultancies and accounting companies, are dealing with related challenges.

Together, Accenture, Deloitte, EY, KPMG and PwC make use of almost 350,000 individuals in India.

EY India, which has over 56,000 workers, activated a enterprise continuity plan firstly of the surge, which included shifting work to different geographies.

Almost all of its workers are working from residence, in accordance to Julie Teigland, a regional managing associate. “A significant number of EY people and their family members have been directly impacted by the severe second wave of Covid in India,” she advised CNN Business.

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EY is offering workers with further medical insurance coverage and Covid-related depart, which can be utilized to take care of sick members of the family. It can be working with NGOs to facilitate medical provides and meals for sufferers in hospitals.

PwC’s Covid helpline gives workers with info on availability of beds, medicine, gear and testing. “We are making sure that all those who have emerging medical needs for themselves or their family members can take time off without having to worry about their leave balance or business continuity,” Satyavati Berera, chief working officer of PwC in India, stated in a press release.

KPMG India stated that every one of its workers are at present working remotely or from shopper workplaces if needed. KPMG International has donated funds towards supporting the nation’s essential wants, together with the availability of oxygen, hygiene gear, ambulances and different medical provides.

Accenture, Deloitte and EY are working with different US firms to present India with essential medical provides, vaccines and oxygen via a partnership supported by the US Chamber of Commerce and Business Roundtable.

Accenture, which employs about 200,000 individuals throughout seven cities in India, stated in a press release that it might shift capabilities elsewhere if needed.

Big Tech

Global tech giants which have poured billions of {dollars} into rising their India companies lately are additionally ensuring they proceed to operate.
Amazon (AMZN) is making a stockpile of Covid-19 remedy instruments, together with oxygen concentrators and oximeters for its India workers, whereas offering resort rooms to workers and their households with gentle signs to allow them to isolate, the corporate’s India head Amit Agarwal wrote in a weblog put up. The e-commerce agency has additionally expanded its sick depart coverage in India to cowl these caring for sick kinfolk, and arrange a helpline to assist workers discover hospital beds, ambulances and oxygen, he stated.
The firm additionally airlifted ventilators and oxygen concentrators into India final week to assist with the disaster, it stated.
Twitter (TWTR), one of many social media platforms Indians have been utilizing to crowd-source hospital beds and oxygen cylinders, introduced a number of product updates to assist customers with verified info and join them to organizations which are engaged on aid efforts. The firm is matching worker donations at 300% to a number of organizations, and has made a separate $100,000 donation to India’s Hemkunt Foundation, it stated in a blog post.
Social media is a lifeline for desperate Indians. And a threat for Narendra Modi

Twitter didn’t share specifics on what it’s doing to help its India workers.

Google final week introduced an $18 million donation to help Covid-19 aid efforts in India.

“India deserves our attention right now,” Google CEO Sundar Pichai, who was born within the nation, stated in an unique interview with CNN’s Poppy Harlow.
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, who was additionally born in India, stated his firm would “continue to use its voice, resources and technology to aid relief efforts, and support the purchase of critical oxygen concentration devices.”

The two firms didn’t reply to requests for touch upon what they’re doing to help their India workforce.

Zoom, the video conferencing platform, stated it was “focused on providing support and resources to our employees across India.” The firm, which has operations in Bangalore, Mumbai and Hyderabad, has additionally donated to a number of organizations and offered hundreds of faculties in India with free entry to its platform, Zoom’s India head Sameer Raje wrote in a weblog put up.

Action at residence

IT giants in India — reminiscent of Infosys (INFY) and Wipro (WIT), which offer enterprise providers to firms world wide — have additionally rushed to present help to workers and guarantee their operations proceed to run easily.

With well being providers beneath extreme pressure, Infosys has arrange Covid care facilities for workers in Pune and Bangalore and plans to roll these out elsewhere. Wipro has taken related steps, with amenities in Bangalore and Delhi out there completely to workers and their instant members of the family. It plans to open related websites in Pune and Hyderabad.

Both companies are partnering with hospitals throughout the nation to guarantee remedy for workers and their households, and vaccines are being offered at some campuses.

Infosys stated that workers who contract Covid are given 21 days of further paid depart by the corporate. “At present, we continue to operate in a remote model across our offices and see no impact on our client deliverables due to the health situation,” it stated in a press release.

Wipro advised CNN Business that solely 3% of workers are working from an workplace. “For employees engaged in critical projects, we have arranged accommodation either at our guest houses or in hotels close to our facilities,” it added.

The firm has created backup groups so as to scale back workload on essential initiatives and stated its world prospects have “responded with empathy” to the state of affairs.

— Diksha Madhok, Sara O’Brien and Rishi Iyengar contributed reporting.

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Monday, May 10, 2021
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