23 March 2022

We are shocked and horrified by the ongoing Russian attack on Ukraine and admire the courage of the Ukrainian response. We also recognise the bravery of those who are joining the global demonstrations by protesting this aggression in Russia.

We have felt this conflict particularly strongly due to our long-standing connections to Ukraine, having initiated training for Ukraine’s Global Compact Network in Kyiv in 2012-13. Since then, we have maintained close friendships and in February we discussed the implication of the German Supply Chain Act with over 60 Ukrainian business leaders.

Our immediate response has been to support our colleagues who are in Ukraine or who have family and friends there by:

  • Granting leave to employees who are directly supporting their family and friends and providing a friendly ear as they do so.
  • Providing some financial support to those family members as they settle into their new locations.
  • From our office in Frome, our team is coordinating the connection of Ukrainian refugees (mainly women and children) with local families who are able to host and offer a temporary home.

We have also initiated a review of how our clients are responding to the Ukraine crisis and the calls to disinvest from Russia. We recognise that this crisis raises deep questions about whether human rights concerns and human rights due diligence, are granted sufficient gravity and influence in corporate strategy and decision-making.

Supported by the unique first-hand insights from Kirill Ermichine, our associate in Ukraine, we now have an important role to play in helping our clients to reflect and learn from this crisis. Exploring their responsibility to the people impacted in their supply chains, and the opportunities they can create for all those who have already lost too much to this conflict.

Kirill, based in Kyiv offered these reflections last night of how his life has changed.

“Thursday 24 March will make it exactly one month. Last night, I repeated the ‘safe sleep drill’: making sure that the phone is charging is vital element, the torch absolutely needs to be in a secure and easy-to-reach spot. My 17-year-old daughter is adjusting to her new realities in Brussels, staying under the safe roof of the long-dated friend Anton. It was Anton who had introduced me to twentyfifty team last November. The support of this team to the crisis was, and remains, astonishing, by all standards. twentyfifty now plans to adjust its engagement with post-war Ukraine; realizing perfectly well that the country is bound to undertake a tremendous ‘build back better’ effort. As many non-fighting men in Ukraine, I am daily adjusting my own work-war balance, trying to remain safe and sane, and of help to others.”

For advice from the UN Global Compact on how the private sector can provide immediate help, please click here.

We will share further actions and reflections as they evolve, and we continue to pray for a speedy resolution and peace.

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