The COVID-19 pandemic has shaken the business community, and we have not yet seen the end of the economic impact of this global crisis. While my heart breaks for every job lost and every business that has to close its doors, I’m encouraged by every story of business leaders who are retooling their models to serve their communities and find a way to ensure that some or all of their staff can keep their jobs.
I believe we have to keep this community mindedness going beyond this crisis, and you don’t have to jeopardize your bottom line or lead a social enterprise to do it.
Have an emergency fund to keep your people employed during a time of crisis.
You can rarely predict when a crisis will begin, or how severe it will be. Responsible leadership means ensuring that you maintain the funds to keep your organization solvent and functioning, even through a difficult and unexpected time.
At the absolute minimum, I recommend that leaders should keep six months of cash on hand —twelve months if possible. I always prefer for my organization to have eighteen months of cash on hand and I approach my corporate planning with that in mind.
When you are in a crisis situation, sometimes it is difficult to see your path forward, but having adequate emergency funds saved can ensure you can take care of your employees and, ultimately, your company. There’s no path to fulfilling your company’s mission if you are not able to make it through a difficult financial period. Plan ahead to give yourself the opportunity to impact the social good.
When you’re thinking about your supply chain, look to source from underrepresented communities.
As leaders of companies, we hold the power to positively impact other businesses, while still making decisions that make sense for our own bottom lines. It’s our responsibility to think about communities that can use our support.
To start, look to source from businesses run by women, minorities or veterans. Some of the small businesses that are currently struggling most under the pandemic are run by underrepresented communities, and choosing them as your supply source can contribute to their success.
You can also find ways to partner with those organizations on their pro bono projects, or to support their charitable giving efforts. By working together, you can maximize your impact.
Always remember that social responsibility begins with how you treat your own employees.
The most impactful way we can focus on corporate social responsibility is by ensuring that we are taking care of our own employees. Our employees are the cornerstone of our organizations, and the way we treat them matters. For example, there should be no one on your team who lacks health insurance or has trouble keeping their lights on.