Capturing Lessons on Becoming Resilient During Times of Crisis

06.27.2022 | Dhruv Maroo, Leila Zarifi, Mahir Sheikh

Resilience, defined as the ability “to cope, survive, and recover from complex challenges and crises that represent stresses or pressures that can lead to a systemic failure,” is an essential component of sustainable democratic societies.

In times of crisis, local private sector organizations help local communities become more resilient by playing an instrumental role in response and recovery. This is especially true in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, where business associations and chambers of commerce have played a crucial role in response and recovery by delivering services, supporting businesses, and safeguarding jobs.

According to a survey conducted by the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the International Organisation of Employers (IOE), “it is estimated that 8 out of every 10 EBMOs [Employer and Business Membership Organizations] across the world renovated and adapted their service delivery model” during the public health crisis. This included measures such as offering advisory or consulting services to members by transitioning to the digital work environment, and establishing effective advocacy and communication strategies. The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted a growing need to equip business organizations with tools and resources needed to face crises. In turn, resilient organizations are better prepared to support local communities and societies to restart their economies.

To understand the challenges local business organizations face when seeking to become more resilient, CIPE captured best practices and lessons learned on adapting during times of crisis through a series of interviews with partners based in Asia, Latin America, Europe, and the Middle East. CIPE then developed a five-part mini-series titled “Strengthening Resilience: Global Perspectives” on its  Democracy that Delivers podcast. The purpose was to explore key elements of resilience and how local private sector organizations can better prepare, adapt, and respond during times of crisis and uncertainty:

  • Episode 1: “Strengthening Resilience of Private Sector Organizations and their Members,” hosted by CIPE Deputy Director for MENA Stephen Rosenlund, featuring Founder and President at Association Options William Pawlucy and Chief Executive at Pearce Global Partners Inc. Ines Pearce. The podcast explores key factors that help foster resilience and sustainability of business organizations and how they can strengthen the resilience of their members.
  • Episode 2: “Strengthening Resilience: Lessons from the Philippines,” hosted by CIPE Global Program Officer Morgan Frost and CIPE Asia Program Officer Anna Baldonado, featuring Ron Astillas from the Philippine LGBT Chamber of Commerce (PLCC). Astillas outlined the impact of the pandemic on LGBT-led businesses and highlighted PLCC’s work on supporting members to become more resilient.
  • Episode 3: “Strengthening Resilience: Lessons from Argentina and Ecuador,” hosted by CIPE Latin America and Caribbean Program Officer Tomas Mandl, featuring Marcos Falcone from Fundacion Libertad and Carlos Loaiza from the Quito Chamber of Commerce. The speakers shared their views on resilience and highlighted how their organizations have supported local communities in times of uncertainty.
  • Episode 4: “Recovery and Beyond: A conversation with OECD-WISE,” hosted by CIPE Global Programs Director Anna Kompanek, featuring Žiga Žarnić, Head of Unit, SDGs and Impact Measurement at the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)’s Centre on Well-being, Inclusion, Sustainability and Equal Opportunity (WISE). The podcast discussed the recently launched COVID-19 Recovery Dashboard from OECD WISE. The dashboard outlines key indicators that measure a country’s ability to recover in times of crisis and helps advance the longer-term goal of sustainability beyond resilience.
  • Episode 5: “Fostering Resilience and Embracing Digitalization,” hosted by CIPE Global Program Officer Morgan Frost, featuring the International Training Centre of the International Labour Organization (ITC-ILO) Program Officer Jorge Ramirez. Jorge shared examples of organizations that successfully strengthened their resilience and ability to weather disruptions to the business environment.

These timely conversations fed into CIPE’s partnership with the ITC-ILO to jointly develop and pilot an interactive e-learning course on “Fostering Resilience and Embracing Digitalization.” Designed for managers and board members of employers and business membership organizations (EBMOs), the curriculum highlights best practices and strategies to support local private sector organizations in becoming more resilient. It includes perspectives from CIPE’s and ITC-ILO’s partner networks and key lessons from the podcast series. CIPE and ITC-ILO successfully piloted the curriculum online with a select group of EBMOs, but portions of it are available to broader audiences here:

The COVID-19 pandemic not only demonstrated the value of private sector organizations in supporting their members through a crisis, but also in fostering resilience more broadly to prepare for future emergencies. Having the tools and strategies to respond to an unexpected crisis is fundamental to the sustainability and stability of not just business organizations but local communities, entire countries, and the global economy.