The health, safety, and well-being of our staff is our highest priority. This is our guiding principle as we continually navigate the sudden and long-term issues raised by COVID-19. As we publish this report, COVID-19 largely defines both our daily operations and our work around the world.
Abt’s Preparedness Team has sought to quickly respond to staff needs and questions, from the immediate need to ensure that employees could successfully telework once offices were closed to providing ongoing support. The support includes flexible leave without pay, an employee leave donation bank, regular webinars on coping with emotional and financial stress, and biweekly CEO updates. We continue to monitor the situation daily, carry out our work, and look forward to safely reopening our offices under guidelines developed by the team.
The Abt-led PMI VectorLink project has been in the forefront of championing gender equality and female empowerment through its malaria control operations. As we set out to improve women’s participation in various roles through our hiring process, we also changed the way we support our colleague Local Country Nationals (LCNs) who are new mothers returning to work.
In January 2020, Abt launched a new initiative—the Peer Advocate Network. These field-based employees share an active commitment to preserving an inclusive environment free from harassment, exploitation, and abuse. Acting in a regional capacity, they offer guidance, remediation, and support to their colleagues, such as advising on how to report incidents, modelling workplace behaviors, and addressing mediation. We are currently piloting the Peer Advocate Network across eight countries—Bangladesh, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Nepal, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Uganda—and plan to expand the program.