After the full-scale invasion of Russia in Ukraine on February 24, many Ukrainian were forced to leave their homes and seek refuge in neighbouring countries. Thousands of refugees — mostly women, children, and the elderly — were arriving daily, many with nothing more to survive the frigid winter days than a small bag of belongings. Many companies offered their support, and we want to thank them by publishing such articles. Today we will cover the help provided for Ukrainians by HP – one of the biggest PC companies in the world.
After February 24 HP employees actively acted in Central and Eastern Europe to help Ukrainian refugees, making sandwiches and hot drinks during overnight volunteer shifts at local shelters, organizing collections of needed items, and setting up systems to keep colleagues informed about volunteer opportunities — and even shopping for, filling, and delivering Easter baskets.
“I was very touched and proud to see how my colleagues organized deliveries and engaged personally to help hundreds of people coming to Warsaw and Wrocław [where HP has offices] daily,” says Andrzej Sowiński, managing director, Poland. “We are also responsible for distribution of a grant from the HP Foundation among key Polish NGOs — this help is very much needed here and now.” Overall, the HP Foundation allocated $3 million to be granted by country Managing Directors Sowiński (Poland), Cristian-Mugurel Pantaia (Romania), and Erika Lindauerova (Hungary, Slovakia, Czech Republic), and donated $250,000 in direct relief grants to organizations like the Polish Red Cross and UNICEF.
In Poland, where more than 3 million Ukrainian refugees fled since the start of the war, HP was among the first to provide essentials like food and hygiene products, in addition to the efforts of individual employees who volunteered at train-station assistance points and unloaded and sorted deliveries for Foundation Ukraine, an NGO helping migrants.
The company is also donating funds to help organize Polish language courses for Ukrainian refugees and sent printers to the Happy Kids Foundation for orphans from Ukraine. Some employees helped clear out unused spaces in Prague for use as temporary classrooms or community centres, and in Slovakia and Hungary, others helped transport refugees from the border and volunteered at local assistance centres.
Meanwhile, in Romania, employees donated blood, helped provide personal care products, and created resources so that refugees could learn how to request asylum and access free medical services. “This extreme crisis has shown that we can act together, organize ourselves around one goal,” says Romanian MD Pantaia. “We saw people inviting Ukrainian refugees to their homes, bringing families together and allowing for a transition from war into a bit of normal life.” Among the grants he has helped coordinate is $210,000 to the Social Incubator, a Bucharest NGO helping refugees travel to safety. “I am especially proud that HP has shown its inclusive company culture through activities initiated and led by our employees.” Here’s how four HP employees took direct action and made a difference in the lives of Ukrainians fleeing the war.
With its 83-year history, HP has proven more than once that human values, which the company declares the highest, are not just nice words. These are real things that did, both collectively and by individual employees. The essential thing is that the company fully supports these values on each level and takes an active part in helping those who found themselves in a difficult situation during the war in Ukraine. Those ready to help do not wait for someone’s ask. On the contrary, they act proactively.
On March 1, Michael Smetana, Managing Director at HP Inc. Austria, sent a letter to colleagues and announced his willingness to shelter Ukrainian contractors who worked for HP and must leave Ukraine due to the Russian invasion. But there was no time to wait. Michael has reached out to contractors personally through LinkedIn and invited them to Vienna.
For the next three months, his house became a home for two women from Kyiv and their children. Michael and his wife warmly welcomed the refugees, provided them with everything they may need, ensured the children immediately went to school and kindergarten, and, most importantly, gave them a sense of security and support – genuine family warmth in Austria.
And it’s just an example of how HP and its employees share the same values and are inventing and reinventing the way of supporting people worldwide, even in such difficult situations.