The Pandemic is Shifting us Towards Stakeholder Capitalism

Very few people predicted that a few months after social distancing and other restrictions were imposed, the United States would be seeing such huge spikes in COVID-19 cases. Most people thought that by fall, we’d be almost back to normal.

With no end in sight, businesses and individuals are having to restructure and reassess. People are thinking more about their values and organizations are struggling to adapt to a new way of doing business. Some industries are (at least temporarily) collapsing before our eyes.

So, what does this mean for the future? Many Americans are resigned to wearing masks and social distancing at least for the rest of the year, but we also have to think about how the pandemic is changing the business landscape—possibly on a permanent basis. COVID-19 might be ushering in a new era of stakeholder capitalism in the United States.

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Current Update on the Pandemic within America 

If you live in the United States, then chances are very good that the situation is getting worse, not better, in your state. Though we know what type of virus COVID-19 is, there is still a lot we don’t understand about how it affects people who have it and their overall health in the future.

One thing we do know, however, is that as the pandemic drags on and only continues to get worse, people are suffering in many different ways. The economic fallout of the pandemic has been enormous, affecting huge industries like restaurants, bars, and the travel sector. Americans are losing their jobs, and disagreements about aid continue to make life financially unstable.

How COVID-19 is Impacting Businesses & the Economy

Looking at charts relating to the economy right now is very alarming. Seeing the huge drop in consumer spending and the crushing 9.5% drop in economic output, it’s easy to see why so many people and businesses are struggling right now.

Although the stock market is performing relatively well, the stock market alone does not deliver a full picture of the American economy. Many small businesses are on the brink, and some have already been forced to close due to lockdown losses and reductions in revenue due to the pandemic.

Relief for small businesses has been limited. Even those that have received aid are unclear as to what the terms of the loans and grants are. Other businesses are facing layoffs or closures because they have still not been able to reopen, and won’t be able to for the foreseeable future due to rising case numbers in many regions.

How is the Corporate Landscape Changing? 

Though the pandemic has been a death knell for many companies and has crushed many industries, it is also changing the corporate landscape in other ways. Companies that have been operating during relatively prosperous times are realizing that they’ll need new strategies to survive and even thrive during the pandemic. Clothing manufacturers are making masks, distilleries are producing hand sanitizer, and business leaders are pivoting to stay afloat.

Some of the big changes in the business landscape involve corporate governance and messaging. In the past few decades, corporations have been concerned mainly with pleasing their shareholders. Thanks to the pandemic, however, we might see a shift that moves America toward stakeholder capitalism—which requires that companies cater to all stakeholders, including employees, customers, suppliers, and the community.

Under stakeholder capitalism, we could see some huge improvements. Companies might start taking a greater interest in social and environmental responsibility, make the working environment better for employees, and source more responsibly and ethically. Profits are important, but the current economic climate might be just what we need to shift toward a more friendly economy that supports our communities.

Could this Lead to a Shift in Popular Occupations? 

Lots of people have lost their jobs during the pandemic. Some industries have contracted heavily, such as travel and hospitality. But others have thrived, such as home delivery companies and digital services. We’re even seeing a resurgence in waning businesses like drive-in theaters.

Since many in-demand jobs are in the tech industry and can be performed virtually, such as data analysts and programmers, we might not see a huge shift in popular occupations. But we will definitely see changes in many industries, causing the workforce to adapt in the next few years.

It’s hard to predict what the world will look like in 2021 and beyond. For now, though, businesses have to adapt as best they can.

You may be interested in: “The Bright Side Brought (somehow) by COVID-19 Pandemic to Businesses”