By James Tehrani
In this interconnected, tech-enabled planet we live in, events taking place in just about any part of the world can have ripple effects around the globe. The current situation in Ukraine is no exception.
There are more than a million (1.3 million to be more precise) Ukrainian immigrants living in the United States, according to 2018 data, the most recent information available. And the most recent immigration wave from the Ukraine, also called the Fourth Wave, makes up 28% of all Ukrainians. The largest populations of Ukrainian immigrants live in New York, California and Pennsylvania (170,000, 135,000 and 111,000, respectively).
H-1B visas are designed for skilled workers who are allowed to stay in the country for up to six years, while H-2B visas are for seasonal, nonagricultural workers who are allowed to stay in the country less than a year. Since 2004, the number of H-1B visas has been capped at 65,000, but, since 2006, the United States has allowed an additional 20,000 H-1B visas for graduate degree holders from U.S. universities. For H-2B visas, the United States allows 66,000 workers, but recently announced it would allow an additional 20,000 temporary H-2B visas for the first half of 2022 with a start date on or before March 31.
At EPAY, our thoughts are with the people of Ukraine in this extremely difficult time, and we continue to hope for a quick and peaceful resolution to this ongoing crisis.
Still, even companies that don’t have Ukrainian people on their staff, could and probably will feel the effects of the dangerous situation taking place in Eastern Europe in some way, shape or form.
The situation in Ukraine, for instance, will likely impact the food supply to some degree as Russia and the Ukraine combined produce almost a quarter of the world’s supply of wheat. U.S.-based food company Cargill, which owns a majority stake in a port in Odessa, was forced to temporarily shut down its operations recently to help protect its workers. In a written statement, Cargill said, “It’s hard to comprehend the challenges our employees, customers and their families in the region face in the days and weeks ahead. Our first priority is their protection and well-being, and for that reason we have closed some locations until we can ensure we are able to operate there safely.”
Additionally, the Ukraine has a robust tech community. If your organization uses software such as Grammarly, well, that’s based in the Ukraine. As are software companies MacPaw and Readdle. And even if you’re not using software from a company directly based in the Ukraine, there’s still a good chance that one of your vendors is using a company based over there for software development.
Besides the potential for disruption related to software development, the conflict could lead to even more supply chain issues for chip manufacturers. There was already a shortage caused by increased demand during COVID-19.
If that weren’t enough, the U.S. Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency recently released a “shields up” warning to businesses because of the crisis. “Cyberattacks on Ukrainian government and critical infrastructure organizations,” CISA said, “may impact organizations both within and beyond the region.”
That means companies must be diligent to not only protect their systems and data for their companies and employees, but also for their customers.
Forbes offers some excellent tips for organizations to help do just that, including:
- Patch internet-facing and business-critical software.
- Prepare for ransomware and/or data destruction.
- Be prepared to act quickly.
- Lock down your network.
For example, to protect customer data, EPAY’s Time & Labor web servers reside in a data-encrypted, Payment Card Industry (PCI)-compliant data center that is Statements on Standards for Attestation Engagements (SSAE)-certified with 24/7 data monitoring.
With all that’s going on, the big question is: What can you do to help? Here are four ideas.
4 Ways Companies Can Help During the Ongoing Ukrainian Crisis
While nothing can fully alleviate the stress from having loved ones involved in a conflict taking place around the world, companies can:
- Offer workers access to employee assistance programs (EAP) or life coaches. These relatively inexpensive benefits give concerned colleagues an outlet to talk with someone about their worries and tell someone what they’re going through in a private environment. EAPs are also anonymous so people can talk freely about their fears and anxieties in a safe environment.
- Offer employees with ties to Ukraine an opportunity to take a leave of absence as they try to support their families and friends currently in harm’s way.
- Make a donation to humanitarian organizations, like Global Giving, the Red Cross and even chef Jose Andrés’ World Central Kitchen, which is providing meals to refugees during the crisis. Companies can also donate to organizations like RonOrp in Switzerland and Elinor in Germany, which are helping people from Ukraine find shelter. (Note: EPAY has not formally evaluated these international organizations.)
- Pledge tech support to help Ukrainian not-for-profit organizations. TechtotheRescue, for instance, has organized a campaign to find volunteers to help with critical tech initiatives for nonprofits in the Ukraine. They need help with tech-related initiatives including working on embedded payment systems, safe messaging, improved cybersecurity and more.
James Tehrani is EPAY System’s digital content marketing manager. He is an award-winning writer and editor based in the Chicago area.