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American Express is committed to providing ‘powerful backing’ and we have been serving and supporting customers and the community in Hong Kong for more than a century. As we navigate the COVID-19 pandemic, this commitment is stronger than ever. In May 2020, American Express announced the launch of #AmexBacksHK, a series of initiatives to support and bring more value to customers, colleagues and the community in Hong Kong through the pandemic recovery.

COVID-19 has brought levels of stress and anxiety that many people may not be familiar with. More than ever, maintaining our mental wellbeing must be a priority. To provide stronger backing of mental wellbeing for our community, we have pledged a US$100,000 (HK$775,000) grant to the Mental Health Association of Hong Kong, as part of American Express’ global relief efforts for COVID-19.

The grant was used to support the organisation to distribute ‘anti-epidemic gift bags’ to service users in need, benefiting 1000 underprivileged families in Hong Kong. The grant also funded the provision of counselling services by clinical psychologists to those under stress due to the pandemic.

According to the Mental Health Association of Hong Kong, more than 60% of people who approached them for counselling services because of the outbreak of COVID-19, reflecting the alarming situation of increasing cases of mental stress. The financial aid will help them reach out to and support more people in need at this critical time.

Non-profit organisations are facing significant challenges stemming from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic alongside other pressing issues, American Express has recently announced a partnership with GlobalGiving, a global platform for enabling charitable giving. Through this partnership, eligible American Express colleagues in Hong Kong and more than 30 other locations will be able to donate to projects in more than 170 countries, and have their contribution matched by the American Express Foundation.

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Backing our colleagues with holistic benefits
The key to our success has always been the strength of our colleague base and the world-class service our colleagues deliver to our customers. Since the beginning of the pandemic, our top priority has been the health and safety of our colleagues and their families.

To that end, we began offering work from home and flexible working arrangements to colleagues in Hong Kong starting from February, and the temporary work from home policy has been extended through June 2021 to colleagues worldwide, offering more flexibility to balance work and family obligations. We have also committed to no COVID-19-related layoffs in 2020 for all American Express colleagues.

Multiple measures have been in place to ensure colleagues’ well-being and to create a safe work environment for those who do work in the office. We have also extended our employee health benefits to ensure better protection, with extensive wellbeing programmes offered to help coping with the challenges and stress of the current situations, through  our wellness programme, Healthy Minds, which offers complimentary 24/7 counselling for colleagues and their families.

In addition to these measures, we believe that it is important for colleagues to pull together even while being apart at this trying time. In Hong Kong, more than 30 virtual engagement initiatives, such as learning seminars, job shadowing, reverse mentoring and leadership sharing sessions, have been conducted for our colleagues with more than 4000 participants so far this year.

Championing the cause of local merchants
Many people and businesses have been struggling, and American Express is doing what we can to help them. In addition to short-term financial assistance and payment flexibility, a new range of offers and benefits have been tailored for different consumers and business customers to get more value in adapting to the new normal. With the fifth year of the Amex Love Local campaign, American Express continues to champion local merchants.