By Delphine Orfila, Societal Engagement Consultant
The pandemic, which has changed our personal, professional, family and other habits, has challenged many things. For most people, this forced or necessary slowdown has been a time of reflection, a pause in their daily busy lives, but for society as a whole and the economy in particular, it has had the effect of kicking an anthill. How should we react? What to do? What to hold on to? How to rebuild? How do we recover as a society?
Our frames of reference, our relationships to others, to ourselves, to work and to society in general have been tested. As we awaken from this crisis, we see some evidence of these questions. For example, 41% of Quebec employees recently mentioned they were ready to change jobs1 while 74% of CFOs surveyed2said that a significant proportion of employees who worked initially on site will remain working from home after the crisis. Employees' aspirations and expectations have changed and the uncertainty of a quick recovery is weighing on everyone, especially for a fair and equitable recovery.
At the corporate level, some entrepreneurial and visionary leaders have been quick to turn around and create a new service line, product or partnership. They quickly understood that together we are stronger and this crisis has definitely shown us that. More than ever, industry associations and clusters played their role as representatives of their industry, bringing their members together for a common cause and around common issues. Spontaneous partnerships have blossomed, and organizations have kept an eye out for potential opportunities here and now. It is clear that in this chaos, the collective has allowed many to find their voice and their way to be heard and to move forward.
Some believe that nothing will change at the end of the crisis, that these visible traces of societal engagement, solidarity and openness to others, like footsteps in the sand, will fade away. Perhaps even before the next wave. We are convinced, however, that if action is taken now to give concrete substance to this tremendous opportunity for reflection, it is possible to avoid going back to the “abnormal”. It is possible to hear peoples' aspirations, behind their roles as employees and leaders. Those who aspire to something bigger, more meaningful, a better tomorrow, to be more responsible, more respectful of the environment. It is possible to turn this momentum into development opportunities for businesses to become even more central to solving societal issues.
If we want a more responsible, equitable world in the wake of this crisis, businesses must be at the heart of this movement. They are the builders who can redraw the lines of our anthill, in addition to being those to whom we give our time and energy. And of the potential of their impact is immense. To put it into perspective, let us consider their weight and central place in society with the example of the United States: businesses: US$ 23.1 trillion (total corporate net income), government: US$ 3.1 trillion in annual spending, NGOs and foundations: US$ 1.2 trillion annual spending. With such figures, we can easily have fun modernizing Archimedes' adage, "give me a fulcrum and a lever and I will lift the world" by replacing the fulcrum with the formidable potential of business and the lever with societal engagement. In this way, we could indeed lift the world...to higher levels.
1/ Question and challenge your role and impact in society. What does this mean for you, your employees and your ecosystem?
2/ Take action. Take one step, individually or collectively. If this action makes sense and is visible, it will pull you forward and bring your stakeholders along with you
3/ Aim for a double impact: for your organization and society
- Reviewing your business strategy, rethinking a model
- Reconnecting stakeholders around a common project
- Identifying your recovery levers
- Partnering with the right stakeholders and for the right reasons, under a collaborative and sustainable governance
- Building the foundation for partnerships created in response to the crisis into a longer-term approach
- Accompanying major changes in your organization
- Initiating and facilitating a discussion in your organization, ecosystem or network around these issues.
At Umalia, we are here to help you take that first or next step.
(1)Survey conducted by ADP Canada and Les Affaires May 15-17, 2020 - https://www.lesaffaires.com/blogues/olivier-schmouker/41-des-quebecois-prets-a-changer-d-employeur-apres-la-pandemie/618180