“While the road ahead won’t be easy, we can make it through. Together, let’s forge the path ahead.”
As I pen this, the Covid-19 pandemic has been raging for more than six months. After the closure of borders and national lockdowns, most economies are now being re-started. But even as governments take steps to bring life back to normal, there remains a long road of recovery ahead.
Already, the toll exacted on lives and livelihoods has been incalculable. And this is despite the global race for a cure, and the unprecedented policy responses that have been mounted. As in crises of past generations, this pandemic will take an all-of-society effort to overcome.
It is in recognition of this that DBS has sought to do what we can to help. In the months since the outbreak, we’ve provided moratoriums on interest and principal payments to many thousands, provided billions of dollars in new loans to businesses large and small, and expedited the rollout of digital banking so our customers can continue banking from the safety of their homes.
We’ve ensured the well-being of our people, with 80-90% working from home at the height of the pandemic. During this time, we’ve taken care to alleviate the pressures of the lockdown through mental health and other support programmes. We’ve assured our people that there will be no layoffs this year. Not only that, we are committed to hiring 2,000 people in Singapore this year, many of whom fresh graduates, in order to help as many get into the workforce as we can.
The community has been hurting. To help, we set up a SGD 10.5 million regional Stronger Together Fund to deliver 4.5 million meals and care packs to the low-income, elderly and migrant workers. We made available funding to social enterprises across the region so they can retain jobs and catalyse transformation in their business models. We are also working with NGOs to pilot large-scale virtual employee volunteerism among the vulnerable.
When times are as difficult as this, it is easy to be discouraged, but as we look about us, stories have surfaced – of generosity, kindness, grit and hope. These are stories of healthcare workers on the frontlines. Individuals helping individuals. Businesses looking beyond the bottom-line to deliver social good. DBS employees working tirelessly behind the scenes to help our clients breathe easier.
These aren’t just DBS stories; they are our collective stories of grit and hope. We call them portraits of purpose. Because when the going gets tough, more than ever, it is purpose that provides meaning to the slog and girds us with strength to overcome.
Every generation is called on to fight its own battles. Without a doubt, this is the test of ours. But, of this, I’m convinced – while the road ahead won’t be easy, we can make it through. Together, let’s forge the path ahead.