Bank of America promised on Wednesday to donate $100 towards hunger relief for each US employee who shows proof of getting boosted against Covid-19.
In a memo shared first with CNN, Bank of America said it will direct a $100 donation to local food banks and hunger relief organizations for each employee who updates their booster card info in the employee vaccine portal before the end of January.
The move shows how companies are reacting to soaring Covid-19 cases by trying to incentivize their workforces to get fully vaccinated and boosted.
“This is a direct investment in your health, and in the wellbeing of the communities where we work and live,” Bank of America executives wrote in the memo. “Medical experts and health officials continue to emphasize that receiving a booster shot is critical to protecting your health and safety, and that of your family, friends and community.”
Bank of America does not have a vaccine mandate, but strongly encourages employees to get fully vaccinated, including boosters.
CNN medical analyst Dr. Leana Wen applauded Bank of America’s effort, although she questioned if a charitable donation is the most effective mechanism.
“I support any effort to incentivize primary vaccinations and boosters. Boosters should not be seen as a luxury or a nice-to-have,” said Wen, who is an emergency physician and professor of health policy and management at George Washington University.
But Wen added, “Might there be a better way to achieve that outcome, including a direct financial incentive to the employee? That may be a more powerful incentive.”
Some companies have offered bonuses to vaccinated workers. Last August, amid the Delta wave, Vanguard offered employees $1,000 to get vaccinated.
Bank of America said it plans to host several on-site booster clinics across the country this month for employees.
Brian Kropp, head of Gartner’s human resources practice, said companies need to offer both carrots and sticks to get employees vaccinated.
“For employees that are vaccinate hesitant, $100, $200 or $300 worth of incentives doesn’t seem to be enough to get them over their concerns,” Kropp told CNN in an email. “While a donation to a charity is a good thing for companies to pursue, most employees would prefer to get $100 cash.”
Eleanor Bloxham, founder and CEO of The Value Alliance and Corporate Governance Alliance, a firm that advises boards on corporate governance practices, said, “This is a very positive example of good corporate citizenship that I would hope others would emulate. Good for the company: good for the community.”
Bank of America said this effort could direct up to $10 million to fight hunger across America and is on top of the bank’s ongoing commitment to the cause. Bank of America said it has donated nearly $150 million toward hunger relief since 2015.
“Millions of Americans suffer from food insecurity each day,” Bank of America said in the memo. “The pandemic has not only increased the challenges faced by many American families, but also the non-profit organizations who deliver vital resources to families across the country.”
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