The last year has given new perspectives and new voices for business issues. Business issues that were once more easily pushed aside, dismissed, or ignored have been placed front and centre.
Traditionally, when we talk about business issues it’s discussed as a solitary entity, independent of life outside the business world. Then COVID-19 came along and turned everything upside down. As Joni Mitchell said, “you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone.” We’ve gone through a reckoning and have seen just how intertwined business is with everything else. I think many of us have known for a long time the importance of social issues for our economy and various movements have pushed that cause over the years.
Our recovery from this pandemic gives us an opportunity to take a huge step forward. When we talk about the “new normal,” let’s talk about what we want the future to look like.
Gender inequality is a business issue. COVID-19 has had a disproportionate economic impact on women. Women are more likely to beemployed in sectors facing shutdowns and layoffs, female entrepreneurs tend to be newer or smaller with less financial backing, and women have taken on the largest role in childcare and home-based education. This inequality is not a new challenge for the workforce, but the pandemic has illuminated shortcomings. Our governments are working to find ways to implement what has been dubbed the “she-covery.” Failing to address this issue will impact our nation’s economic recovery and drag it out longer. This is not just a moral obligation — it’s critical for our economy.
Childcare is a business issue. Quality childcare is nearly impossible to maintain while also working a full day of work, especially for jobs that can’t be done from home. When the childcare centres closed, thousands of adults removed themselves from the workforce.
Childcare has been an ongoing issued made much more challenging by the pandemic. Childcare spaces have been in short supply for years and the cost is a
significant challenge for families. The federal government is taking steps to address these issues through the 2021 budget, pushing more subsidies, increasing spaces, and investing in quality care. Giving parents the option of quality, affordable childcare is essential to engaging the full potential of our workforce.
Our schools are a business issue. Anyone attempting to help our children with online learning can attest to this. Much like childcare, many parents have had to make the choice to either remove themselves from the
workforce or burn the candle at both ends and get their work done after the kids are done school (or gone to bed).
Investing in our schools both helps our economy by training a better future
workforce and makes it so those who don’t want to be homeschool teachers can focus on our work. This is a resource a generation of parents will never take for granted again.
The line between the
workplace and home has become a bit blurred. While work has moved more into our homes, our lives have also become more entwined with our work. We’ve seen more prioritizing of physical health, mental health, and schedule flexibility. These are all part of the future business community.
As your Chamber of
Commerce, it’s our duty to advocate for a thriving
business community. We know addressing social
issues goes hand-in-hand with advocating for
traditional business issues.
This recovery is our chance to work together and make some positive change.