Pandemic brings best out of DHL Express : Global CEO John Pearson

_A Monitor Report Date: 16 June, 2021

Bonn: DHL has been investing in defining and communicating its 'purpose' as a company for many years now. About 10 years ago, DHL coined its mantra "connecting people, improving lives".

This simple and upbeat motto underscores its collective belief that logistics and global trade improve the prosperity of nations and the lives of blue collar workers in those countries. 

DHL Express Global CEO John Pearson said in a letter addressed to the media where he himself explained the company's purpose and how it dealt with the pandemic and got the best result delivered during the critical time being aligned with its mantra. 

He said, "Our plan and our purpose met a formidable challenge with the arrival of the pandemic…I have often gone by the principle that a quick decision is often a bad decision and not to be pressured by fictional deadlines.

This situation was different and from talking and thinking as a team it quickly became clear that it was necessary to change work routines and processes almost overnight." 

"Communication became critical and we had to tailor and translate messages to our employees in 220 countries and territories. We had to ensure protection from the virus and deal with the prospect of downsizing.

We resolved to introduce a radically changed environment," he added. 
Somehow, DHL squeezed four years of technological advancement into four months. Previously departments such as HR and IT had often been known as 'support' functions. 

"Under these circumstances, it confirmed my suspicion that there is no such thing as support functions: we're all on the frontline and we never missed a moment when we weren't fully connected to our customers," claimed the Global CEO. 

At one moment DHL was delivering PPE to China from the world and then within a matter of weeks the direction shifted and it was to move PPE from China to the world. DHL helped to safeguard the existence of brands that had to suddenly close their physical stores and move their business online. 

DHL found they were able to fulfill the needs of their customers because their employees were willing to adapt in a crisis. Thankfully, DHL was not an executive board often advocating what to do, they had 110,000 advocates for what they needed to do. The purpose gave DHL the momentum it needed to adapt. 

Now that vaccine production is ramping up, the distribution of vaccines depends crucially on global logistics. To date, DHL has distributed over 200 million Covid-19 vaccine doses to 120 countries and territories - an excellent example of DHL's purpose and globalization in action. 

But DHL's purpose is not just a feature of work life. "We want our employees to be active citizens in helping the towns, villages, and communities where they live. Our 'Go' programs support the efforts of our employees to make a contribution to wider society," said Pearson. 

Whether it is to make it easier to trade across borders, (GoTrade), giving young people the opportunity to learn new skills (GoTeach), preparing for the logistical challenges of natural disasters (GoHelp), or to ensure business success is compatible with environmental protection (GoGreen), DHL has initiatives to get employees involved in causes that drive them. 

"Also, we've launched DHL's Got Heart - a way that colleagues can draw attention to the charities they support or set up ways to back good causes through their own initiative," mentioned Pearson. 

"We know that trade can soothe the tensions between nations and create bonds of fellowship. If companies like ours succeed in engaging and empowering our employees, that will provide a template for governments and wider society," claimed the Global CEO. 

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