Responding to challenges, driving positive change
2020 challenged the world to move at the speed of science. At UL we had started work to refresh our business strategy before the pandemic began. Teamed with our safety science expertise, this enabled us — in partnership with our customers and stakeholders — to be an essential part of the global battle against COVID-19.
We supported our customers with expedited safety testing and certifications for medical devices, equipment and essential supplies, developed processes for virtual audits and helped businesses to safely reopen when the time was right. We also looked within to confront bias and injustice, sharing our experiences in a series of global inclusion conversations and creating new, measurable commitments that will result in a more equitable future at UL and in our communities.
UL and our customers were essential in 2020
Many of our customers played vital roles in the battle against COVID-19. We are proud that they chose to partner with us to support this critical work, some of which is shared in this video.
Partnering with our customers to defeat COVID-19
Supporting customer innovation
Easy access to COVID-19 testing is critical to controlling the spread of the virus. Our customer, DnaNudge, developed an innovative, personal-use COVID-19 testing solution to detect the presence of the virus in just over an hour, outside of a laboratory environment. UL team members from the U.K., Poland and Denmark collaborated across borders and business divisions to rapidly develop and conduct appropriate testing procedures for this breakthrough solution. UL’s ability to evaluate the safety of breakthrough technology was essential to our customer’s success.
Leveraging safety science expertise
When far-reaching supply chain shortages forced changes to the construction of medical devices and equipment, our team was able to accelerate the certification process necessary to quickly get these products to market so that temporary emergency facilities, hospitals, urgent care centers and healthcare workers could access the technology they needed to save lives. Our rapid response to supply chain issues also helped our customers avoid costly production shutdowns.
“This team kept an essential production line running. If UL wouldn't have completed the testing in time, our customer would have had to halt production.”
Demonstrating quality commitments
Some vital processes can’t be halted, even during a pandemic. We prioritized the development of a process to enable remote audits and inspections to be conducted by auditors using livestream video to review details of the operation. Our field engineers also carried out remote inspections to help our manufacturing customers to keep up with demand and avoid costly shutdowns.
Sharing our expertise
With operations that span the globe, we understand the complexities of reopening economies while protecting employee health and safety. To help our global colleagues navigate the new normal within the workplace, UL developed the Start Safe Playbook, combining our collective expertise with guidance from leading health organizations. The playbook detailed the best practices we utilized at UL locations around the world as we returned to work and is intended to provide a starting point for other companies to develop their own safety policies and procedures.
Protecting public safety
Several months into the pandemic, UL’s Lighting team started receiving inquiries from manufacturers about ultraviolet-C (UVC) germicidal devices, such as portable handheld wands, boxes and even germicidal bulbs for use in homes, restaurants and schools. This raised concern, as these devices can create a health risk if UVC light is improperly contained. We collaborated with the American Lighting Association (ALA) and the National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA) to create a position paper outlining what consumers need to know about UVC technology and use.
Diversity and Inclusion
Diversity and inclusion is an integral part of our "working for a safer world" mission. During the height of the social justice protests in 2020, we provided opportunities to our employees around the world to openly share their thoughts, questions and concerns with peers.
We also responded by developing the UL Diversity and Inclusion activation plan, a blueprint we will use to build equity into our company. We publicly committed to the intentional steps that we will take to build a more inclusive UL in our first Diversity and Inclusion report.
We now have seven Business Resource Groups (BRGs) with more than 2,500 members globally. All employees are welcome to join any of our BRGs.
• Black BRG
• PRIDE UL BRG
• Military BRG
• Latino BRG
• UL Parents BRG
• Women in Leadership BRG
• Young Professionals BRG