Last week, my LinkedIn feed was full of pictures of people holding bags of take-out food from their local restaurants. When I researched further, it turns out every commercial and small business account manager from RBC ordered lunch from a local restaurant. It was a way to show their support for restaurants and businesses in communities throughout the region during the lockdown.
As a business owner in times of COVID, I tend to put my guard up when it comes to banks. However, this act of corporate leadership made me realize that big corporations have the power to influence the local economy and lead by example — one wallet at a time.
It is no secret that one of the most improved industries is e-commerce; with most retail not deemed essential and forced to reduce or shut down operations, people have changed their buying habits and have moved online. Supermarkets and pharmacies are other industries that have boomed. Even with stay-at-home orders in place, they have remained open as “essential businesses.” Other benefited industries include cybersecurity, some manufacturing, pharma — all for obvious reasons.
I’m so sick of writing about our struggles. I’m so sick of reading about gloom and doom in the news. We could all use some uplifting news of collaboration, support and local leadership.
What if we match the most benefited industries with the most affected ones and create some good news for a change?
There are consumer campaigns to support your local businesses, but what we need is for those at the forefront of thriving industries and businesses to lead by example and be what the local community around them needs them to be.
I challenge Shopify, the Ottawa Amazon campus, the leadership team at our local Loblaws, Sobey’s, Shoppers Drug Mart and the thriving tech sector in Ottawa to show your hyper local corporate leadership and encourage and support your staff to be the agents of change.
Choose an affected industry: restaurant, arts and entertainment, non-essential retail — and reward your employees by giving them a budget to support those businesses. Take pictures, tag, post, have fun doing good. We all need more good news on our feeds.
This “swarm effect” might be the difference between a business being able to pay rent and not. Call me an idealist, but I believe that hyper local corporate social responsibility is needed now more than ever and it can make a difference.
But let’s stop the lip service and start doing.
Karla Briones is a local immigrant entrepreneur and owner of Global Pet Foods Kanata & Hintonburg; Freshii Westboro; founder of the Immigrants Developing Entrepreneurs Academy; and an independent business consultant. The opinions here are her own. Her column appears every two weeks.