Over 1,200 chief executive officers and investors have signed an open letter that’s calling for the U.S. private sector to lead the fight in the fight against the spread of the novel coronavirus. One of the most recognizable names on that list is basketballer, Steph Curry.
The #Stopthespread movement began with Rachel Romer Carlson, cofounder and CEO of education tech company Guild Education, after she published the letter with her investor Ken Chenault, chairperson of venture capital firm General Catalyst.
The letter asks that executives demonstrate "bold leadership" amid the COVID-19 outbreak by allowing employees to work from home, supporting frontline workers who will continue to work throughout the crisis, as well as avoiding hosting and attending large public events.
Carlson admits she wrote the letter with Chenault after becoming inspired by those who continue to "work at the frontlines, like pharmacies and grocery stores, which can't or won't be able to close. We want to protect that group," she told Business Insider. "The best thing we can all do for that workforce is to stay home."
The letter takes aim at CEOs and executives, many of which have pledged their support behind the cause. Though the letter isn’t specific to any industry— anyone can sign.
Early signees included early Pager Duty’s Jennifer Tejada, Jeff Lawson of Twilio, Zapier’s Wade Foster, and Eric Yuan of Zoom, the videoconferencing tool that announced it’s offering its video tools to any affected K-12 school in the U.S. and other countries for free.
"CEOs today have enormous influence in creating social influence in a positive way," Carlson explained. "In this particular instance, the opportunity for CEOs to create that social change and galvanize leaders to respond to COVID-19 was huge."
Guild Education has already given its employees unlimited sick time and in the wake of the crisis extended it to those with a partner who is a first responder or health care worker. The company is also trying to help hundreds of thousands retail and service workers who use Guild to take online college courses as part of their employers’ benefits programs.
On Friday, the hashtag got a celebrity co-sign with Rita Ora sharing with her millions of followers that she has created a capsule collection in support of the United Nations Foundation and World Health Organization. The #StopTheSpread range includes hoodies and baseball caps that feature a germ being stamped out by a red peace sign that recalls the general prohibition sign. One-hundred per cent of the proceeds go to the WHO’s COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund, which provides health workers with protective equipment and up-to-date, fact-based information on the pandemic.