While the debate roles on about how well (or poorly) the US is prepared for COVID-19, companies find themselves wrestling with some big questions around their corporate responsibility in the face of the looming threat of virus-spread.
Monday, #expowest2020 Natural Foods Show in Anaheim was postponed. #newhope, who puts on EXPO West held off on cancelling. All of the grocery distributors pulled out. The large natural food retailers pulled out. Still, they waited. Then, there was an outpouring of concern online from some of the larger companies that the small businesses who had paid for booths would be the ones most hurt by a choice not to cancel.
And New Hope did step up and postpone EXPO West.
The event It will be scheduled when COVID-19 dies down. When travel is back to “normal”. When Orange County is not in a state of elevated alert. https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2020-02-26/orange-county-declares-emergency-over-coronavirus-a-day-after-san-francisco-issues-decree
Situations like this are happening in varying degrees all around the country today. Decisions are being had on whether or not to to cancel a conference, a company trip, to close down bars and clubs for spring break. The question remains: Where are the lines of corporate responsibility?
As leadership thinks about these questions they would do well to consider the big picture. The choices we make now set the tone for culture in our organizations going forward. Handle the necessary restrictions and changes that have come with COVID-19 with intelligence and understanding and your teams will have that much more buy in and loyalty. Handle it with an eye only to the bottom line and the potential for cultural disintegration in a corporate sense increases dramatically.
For South and Spoon the choices New Hope made have ripple effects. The team was able to cancel hotel reservations but that does not change the financial impact of having to return displays to their storage facilities and the myriad assets that will go into storage until the show is rescheduled. For many small businesses a cancellation and refund of booth fees would have been a more significantly positive response. In the end, every business is affected by this health emergency, big and small. Hotels must be in a state of crisis though that is merely a distant assessment based on our own cancellations.
As a business owner everything counts. Corporate responsibility is not only about one’s own corporation but the health and wellbeing of the many companies who touch you. We each, however big or small, have a responsibility to take the time to think about how our business choices can positively impact the lives and businesses of the many people we come in contact with.
#socialresponsibility #covid19 #coronavirus #smallbusiness #leadership #expowest #newhope #kindbars #smallbusiness #californiasmallbusiness