Leadership is a test of how people and organizations react in a crisis. Do they allow themselves to be controlled by fear and the chaos around them? Or do they lean into a storm of uncertainty with a strategy that adapts to the current reality, accepts disruptions that cannot be controlled at the moment, and plan for the future?
NJBIA has led businesses through many uncertain times during our 110-year history. We have provided powerful advocacy and extensive resources for our members through world wars, stock market crashes, destructive storms and now the second global pandemic in just over a century. During all these temporary crises, NJBIA has pivoted in innovative ways to help New Jersey businesses be resilient in the face of upended business plans, workforce challenges, and economic uncertainty.
Our mission to work for the financial success of our members doesn’t change during uncertain times, only the way we adapt and carry on does.
After COVID-19 hit New Jersey in March, NJBIA put together a coalition of more than 100 business groups to fight for coronavirus assistance for businesses and clearer guidelines for reopening more “nonessential” businesses after government ordered shutdowns.
With most NJBIA staff working remotely during the pandemic, we continued to provide businesses with important information on the dozens of new coronavirus-related laws and regulations, various loan and grant programs, and the governor’s numerous executive orders affecting business operations. While working from their kitchen tables, NJBIA staff has answered thousands of calls and emails about individual business concerns and delivered more than 50 virtual events and webinars that have been viewed by over 30,000 people nationwide.
On Sept. 8-11, we’ll adapt again by transforming New Jersey’s largest annual professional women’s conference – the NJBIA’s Women Business Leaders Forum – into a video-conference event. COVID-19 will not waylay the mission to increase gender diversity in corporate leadership, and this virtual event will enable hundreds of women and men to join us without even having to leave their homes or offices.
The expanded conference features four days of engaging workshops, TED-style talks, keynotes and “Zoom-room” networking aimed at inspiring more women to build successful businesses and attain seats in C-suites and board rooms. Two nationally recognized keynotes will be with us: Dallas Mavericks CEO Cynthia (Cynt) Marshall, the first African American woman to lead an NBA team, and Bloomberg TV Anchor and Executive Producer Emily Chang, author of “Brotopia: Breaking Up the Boys’ Club of Silicon Valley.”
In October, we’ll be rolling out dynamic HR content on our website packaged in a way that makes it easier for members to access in-depth HR information updated for the COVID-19 world. The thousands of calls we’ve received since March have made clear the need to adapt to rapid changes occurring in the HR space by providing members with an online resource for HR compliance, including ready-built templates for job descriptions and other documents, tutorials, forms, notices and policies customized for each member business size, along with e-alerts for changes in state and federal laws. There will even be a ‘wizard’ tool to help businesses write their own employee handbooks, updated to reflect COVID-19 realities.
A decade of record economic expansion and job growth has been wiped out by a pandemic that has cost more than 15,000 lives, hundreds of thousands of jobs, and billions in lost tax revenues from business shutdowns. The challenges we face are enormous, but they cannot defeat us if we lean in, adapt, and act on the opportunities and solutions that can always be found even in the most uncertain times.
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