3rd in our five-part special series, Fuqua Entrepreneurs’ Insights on the Road Ahead
Shankar Musunuri: Many businesses are contributing to society in this crisis including manufacture of PPEs (personal protection equipment). In our Pharma Industry, if they have ability to contribute to development of new vaccines, therapeutics or diagnostics, they are jumping in to contribute their part. Even though it appears to be chaotic on surface, many businesses including private/public sectors are working together to find a cure or protect people. Business are showing that they care about people and societies they live in. Bonding is going to increase between businesses and society.
David Snow: COVID-19 has re-enforced how essential healthy businesses and a healthy economy are to our wellbeing. Business models may change due the learnings from the pandemic but the essential relationship between business and society has not.
Amit Sharma: No matter where you are, we are all connected across the world. Our personal and professional live are blurred together. During this experience, we’ve seen TV hosts recording shows in their home and have had colleagues’ children and pets make guest appearances on conference calls. We’ve had a more intimate look into the lives of our professional contacts, which I think will result in an expectation for more authentic conversation between employers, employees, business partners, etc.
Andy Horwitz: In the near term, this disruption is clearly making it less popular for businesses to maximize profits and buy back stocks and lavish executives with bonuses amid government bailouts and the heroics of the front line workers. That will continue for a while (a year, two years, five, who knows), but ultimately the capitalist system (and greed) will return, as it did after the great recession, after 9/11, after the tech bubble burst.
Brad Hirsch: The ability to mobilize industry at scale to solve key problems where government faltered will lead to a shift in perceptions. The innovation and ingenuity of businesses has clearly been embraced by society. The view of the pharmaceutical industry is a prime example with a rise in patient’s perception of the companies to a level not seen in nearly a decade. However, the power of certain companies, particularly in technology, will also draw concern among many. Do we have to rely on Google and Apple to trace contacts? Do we trust them to do so? I believe the net impact will be positive in the relationship.
Hetal Pandya: The relationship between business and society has definitely changed. Consumer trust will have to be rebuilt by local businesses, especially personal service providers. Consumers will value local businesses more once they have reestablished that partnership and trust.
Beverly Sobel-Redler: We now have a recognition that one’s personal purchasing choices do make a difference for a business. Right now, many folks are buying intentionally, focusing their purchasing power toward businesses they want to support and exist after the pandemic subsides. Seeing places shrink, close, hearing local folks in their local networks expressing the effect of dwindling spend dollars helps illuminate that their consumerism matters to the vendors providing those products and services.