In a year when our sense of community has been shattered—and many gathering places may have permanently shuttered—what might it be like this summer as we return to some semblance of normal, community life? How might you uplift your community and help prioritise well-being?
As our communities awaken from their COVID-induced, ‘lockdown’ hibernation, they’ll look and feel very different. Many retailers and restaurateurs will not be able to open their doors; many tourism businesses will continue to struggle while the travel industry takes time to restart. And many changes may be permanent—including our own personal preferences about how we choose to connect with one another and share time.
Our communities are essential to our well-being.
March is B Corp Month, an annual celebration of all things beneficial in business. This year, it’s particularly poignant in that one of the five pillars of the B Corp model (and the B Impact Assessment) is ‘Community.’ Each of us defines community in various ways: it’s our neighbourhood; it’s our family, friends, and acquaintances; it’s our professional and cultural communities.
Whatever scope we put around the word, one thing’s for sure: as social beings, our attachment to our communities is fundamental to our well-being.
Three Ways to Enhance Community Well-Being
Each of us—and each of our businesses—can contribute to the resurgence of community well-being, ensuring we #emergestronger from COVID. Here are some ways you can support community with your business—and think like a B Corp.
How might you bring the marginalized to the centre? Societal attention to justice, equity, diversity and inclusion (JEDI) may be at an all time high. Uprisings for race equity have consistently held headline space, particularly since the killing of George Floyd. Protests about economic inequities have persisted since the 2008 financial crisis, when Occupy Wall Street called our attention to ‘the 1%.’ And gender equity has been forefronted again during COVID, as we recognize the disproportionate impact of the pandemic on women.
While each of these is a massive, systemic problem, each of us can do our part to contribute to solutions. Embed principles for equity in your recruiting, critiquing and revising practices that may be exclusionary, despite your best intentions. Look hard and self-critically at how marginalized groups are represented among management and on your board of directors. Consider how you might expand diversity without also making people tokenistic representatives of significant parts of the community where you do business. And do the work to review pay equity. Even the biggest, most mature companies are finding space to improve in this critical way.
Local spending drives local communities.
How might you contribute to your local community economy? We know that spending in the local community has a dramatically higher economic multiplier effect than money spent with big, national and international brands. Money that stays in the community tends to stay with smaller enterprises, filling the pockets of local residents who then go out and spend with other local residents. Look at your purchasing or procurement decisions: how might you spend locally with partners in your community, so that your local community economy thrives?
How might you connect with community stakeholders? Communities are built when people come together. It really is that simple. And when people come together, we talk, we share ideas, we engage with one another. Community engagement has long been held as a professional discipline in public relations and politics. But it’s your business, too. If you’re not in conversation with community stakeholders, you’re missing the opportunity to understand what community wants from you, what opportunities there might be for you, and what issues or concerns community might have that you might improve or resolve.
Equity. Economics. Engagement. Whether you’re thinking about these things for the first time, taking your first tentative steps into community, or looking for deeper ways for your business and your brand to make a meaningful difference, now is definitely the time. Your community needs you.
Author Mike Rowlands is President & CEO at Junxion and a long-time B Corp Ambassador
If you’d like to chat about how to enhance your impact, get in touch and let’s have a juicy, generative conversation about how you can make a positive impact in your community.