The Next Business Shift
In my previous blog post, I noted that women are well-positioned for the post-COVID economy. Women are more likely to collaborate. (1) Women who negotiate for themselves (such as a job offer) are generally perceived in a more negative light than women who negotiate on behalf of others (such as a collective agreement for a team). (2)
The post-COVID economy can go one of two ways. The first is that competition for clients and resources is so harsh that will it resembles something out of a post-apocalyptic movie. The second, and this is my hope, is that businesses realise another way of doing things. A way that’s more collaborative, interdependent, and more apt to sharing resources between organisations.
Here’s how women can lead the way to economic recovery: building and negotiating a shift towards social enterprises. Social enterprises have a dual goal of earning income while serving a social or environmental (or both) goal. Social enterprises target a relationship (or series of relationships) and transform them. In the process of transformation, a stronger, healthier relationship is created.
Social enterprises can be highly profitable. Grameen Bank provides micro-loans to impoverished people in Bangladesh. In 2016, Grameen Bank had US$2.8 billion in assets.
Goodwill is another example of a profitable social enterprise. People donate and buy used clothing and items. In 2016, Goodwill Industries International made US$5.7 billion in revenue.
The Ottawa Renewable Energy Coop has millions of dollars of solar panel assets and contracts throughout Ottawa and Eastern Ontario.
The last time I looked, those were serious business numbers.
There are several ways in which women can profit in the post-COVID economy. The first is to begin raising ways in which business models and revenue streams can be transformed. Use this unique moment in time to demonstrate your leadership skills. Engage with your coworkers about your existing client base, areas of potential growth, how you’re using resources, and how your company interacts with the community.
The second way is to engage your partners. These are vendors, clients, and the broader community to discuss how your business and other businesses can increase their impact and contribute to more resilient communities. The pandemic has highlighted many fractures within the system, be it economic, social, or health. Where there’s a crisis, there’s opportunity. And women can lead the conversation and the convening of parties to the conversation.
A third way for women to flex their business skills is to start more women-owned companies. Women-run and women-owned companies are more innovative, more profitable, and more productive. (3) With many companies struggling to stay open, there’s a growing demand to fill that market space. Women can use this opportunity to start businesses better adapted to current conditions, build stronger teams from day one, and develop more resilient business ecosystems.
A fourth way to rebuild the economy is to restore trust. Women have the edge over men in fostering confidence. (4) Leverage women’s soft skills to create a community of practice around a business problem or issue. Credibility is something that takes years to create and seconds to destroy. Be sure to remain open and transparent without intentions for the conversation.
There is no one-shot solution in the post-COVID economy. As we emerge from COVID, we need to have deep conversations about how businesses will operate, which solutions to develop, and how to mobilise people and resources to achieve goals.
How will you lead in the post-COVID world? Reach out to me on Twitter @vitaedynamics to continue the conversation.
If your business is looking for ways forward, please reach out.