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Essilor’s global solidarity initiatives for fighting the pandemic.

June 8 2020

The group has set in motion a number of beneficial actions at world level to support people working in the front line to prevent the spread of COVID-19. WMIDO discussed the subject with Essilor Italia Managing Director Luca Strigiotti.

What steps has your group taken to prevent the spread of Covid-19?

There is a common denominator that is a feature of Essilor: it is always consistent with its mission, which is to help people to see betterfor living better. In line with our vision, therefore, a number of solidarity actions have been taken at global level.

Thanks to the teams in all countries, to the Essilor Vision Foundations and with the support of Vision for Life, the Essilor group has been able to donate almost 1 million items of protective equipment that includes eyeglasses and face shields to protect front line workers all over the world.The beneficiaries were local hospitals and front line workers such as healthcare operators, firefighters, assistants and security forces in China, Italy, France, Germany, Spain, Portugal, United States, Brazil, Colombia, Israel, Australia, India, Bangladesh and many more countries. There have also been donations of protective gloves, hand sanitizer gels and plano eyeglasses.

What was your undertaking in China, the first country to be affected by COVID-19?

Together with our organizationsin the territory,we donated over 200,000 face masks, protective eyeglasses and anti-fog wipes. Recipients included the Shanghai Traffic Police, who are responsible for checking the health of people entering the city, the Shanghai Custom House, and local healthcare operators at the Tongji pediatrichospital in Wuhan and the Aier hospital in Xiaogan, Hubei. In addition, 1.5 million Renminbi, the equivalent of 198,000 euro, were donated by Essilor and its partners to the Wuhan Charity Federation for protection from and prevention of epidemics. The donations were used to buy masks, eyeglasses and protective equipment.Currently we are distributing another 500,000 masks that will go to hospitals all over the world.

What was the strategy in France?

Essilor Group subsidiaries have donated over 20,000 masks. The protective equipment was donated to local hospitals, pharmacies and front line workers, including healthcare operators, firefighters, assistants and security forces, in the communities around Essilor sites and buildings.In addition, Essilor France donated 10,000 pairs of protective eyeglasses to the French Ministry of Health. Financed by the Group’s social impact fund, Vision for Life, the equipment was distributed to the French hospitals that were most in need, including Hôpital de La Rochelle, Hôpital de Versailles, Hôpital de Mantes, etc.Other donations in France include hydro-alcoholic gels, lab coats, shoe covers, gloves and protective caps.

Another country strongly affected by the pandemic is the United States.... what steps did you take there?

Essilor of America is donating over 100,000 items of protective equipment (surgical masks, N95 masks, protective eyeglasses) to hospitals and organizations working in the front line against COVID-19 atDallas, Texas, at Columbus and Youngstown, Ohio, in addition to schools of optometry and ophthalmology professionals in the United States who provide emergency services and urgent care.Our online business EyeBuyDirect also donated Blue Protect glasses to children, who due to the lockdown spend a lot of time in front of screens and more than ever need to protect their eyes. Satisloh North America contributed 12,500 pairs of medical gloves to a local donations center in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. 

Classic Optical is supporting one of its partners, FitzFrames -a company that uses 3D printing to make frames -in the orientation of its business towards printing protective eyeglasses. It is also supplying plano and Rx lenses, laboratory services and shipments to patients and healthcare partners. The laboratory is also using its Youngstown, Ohio, establishment to produce hand disinfectants which it makes available to local employees and first responders.

Essilor Vision Foundation US has launched “Show the Love”, an initiative in response to COVID-19, which promotes expressing gratitude to various groups -from communities to teachers to ophthalmologists -that are leading the nation through this crisis in the United States. The objective is also to help Organisational Developments (ODs) and non-profit organizations to prepare themselves for coping with growing needs during the recovery from the pandemic, through educating and offering registration with its beneficial eyeglasses “Changing Life Through Lenses” and other awareness-raising programs.

What steps have you taken in Italy?
Thanks to our Safety Division that makes plan equipment and protective eyeglasses, as Essilor Italia we decided to immediately allocate at the height of the health emergency the entire stock of protective equipment available in our warehouse to certain Hospitals in Lombardy (including the hospital in Bergamo), the Veneto and the Municipality of Milan, the city in which the company is based. With a subsequent supply we took steps to equip a greater number of hospital and entities. In Milan Ospedale Sacco, Ospedale Niguarda, Ospedale San Raffaele, Presidio Ospedaliero San Carlo, Piccola Casa della Divina Provvidenza “Cottolengo” in Cerro Maggiore (MI), which houses the elderly and people suffering from Alzheimer’s; in Monza Ospedale San Gerardo; in Bergamo Ospedale “Treviglio-Caravaggio”, Ospedale Papa Giovanni XXIII, the Italian Red Cross and Cesvi, the humanitarian NGO operating in the field of cooperation and development based in the Lombard city that was one of the most affected by the health emergency.Specifically, we donated 5,700 pairs of protective eyeglasses for physicians and paramedics.Added to this was an initiative in which the subsidiary’s entire top management, headed by Marco Caccini, vice president of the Essilor group in Italy, took an active and personal part. In an act of joint-responsibility and solidarity, we earmarked a part of our remunerations for the Virology Department at Ospedale Sacco in Milan.
There is another aspect we wanted to consider and which includes an initiative with a “social” approach. Nowadays we live in a state of evolution: children and teenagers are always on line (distance learning has become the “new school”) so children and the community in general are over-exposed to devices and, consequently, the harmful blue light. Because genetic problems of myopia affect many families, we decided to meet them halfway -given the particular moment with a “family card” that the optician gives to the client in person.
With this card they can equip several members of the family thanks to a special discount opportunity: the first item is sold at full price and the discount is applied to the second and third pair of glasses purchased for one of the members of the family. The basic idea was not to give a simple discount that would be to the advantage of the optician, who obviously already receives a discount, but to create a card that would meet the family’s real financial needs and convey a direct and practical message of solidarity and closeness during the recovery stage.


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