During COVID-19 we’re continually hearing from business experts, economists and data scientists, but it is the stories from business owners and leaders that give us a true understanding of what’s on the minds of Australian businesses. We asked these leaders what they’re focussing on coming into this new financial year and the drivers for their business engagement.

1. Introducing new services

Rachelle Towart OAM, Pipeline Talent

 “2020 started off with a bang. Pipeline Talent (Indigenous Executive Recruitment) went from doing one or two jobs a month to 15-18 jobs a month.  Then COVID happened! I was challenged with working-from-home on a number of fronts: my husband was at the end of the make-shift desk, my dogs thought it was OK to ‘help’, and my coffee shop decided to renovate! Just like the coffee café, this candidate café has been renovating:

  • We’re working on a new website format and design and asking for feedback on your experiences with our services – we’re serious about being great!
  • Pipeline Talent will incorporate Board Appointments into its service offers (so if you know a Board in need of a great Indigenous leader send them our way)
  • Our coaching service now has a senior (former) Public Servant to help navigate the government lingo
  • We’re giving back by developing a ‘tool-kit’, including tips on how to prepare a CV, how to write a great cover letter, responding to selection criteria, preparing for interviews – anything to give you the best chance of landing that job!

Looking to July, we’re celebrating NAIDOC Week. This year it’s particularly important to pause, consider and listen with deep respect and genuine hope, with the connections between NAIDOC’s theme “Always Was, Always Will Be” and #BLM so strong and relevant.”

2. Seeing opportunities in difficulty

Monika Tu, Black Diamondz Property Concierge

“The 19/20 financial year has been like nothing I have experienced in my life, and I know I’m not alone in that statement.  I am a big believer in the quote, “An optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.”  It is after times of great hardship we see the very best in the human spirit and all we can achieve. 

Since founding Black Diamondz, I have built a culture of premium service with a focus on in-depth understanding and nurturing of our clients.  These fundamental values have ensured our business not only survives but thrives amid Covid-19.  The impacts of the pandemic are enormous, and there is no downplaying how much it has affected the property industry.  I am working with a broad spectrum of clients right now.  Some have to sell due to the impacts of Covid-19, while many are looking for opportunities. It’s an interesting time.

For me, the FY21 will emphasise on rising to new challenges, embracing a new world, continuing to remain resilient, and focusing on the community.  There are so many challenges right now, and as business leaders, we must be at the forefront of showing people that they can achieve success after tough times and empower those around us to continue to believe in themselves and their dreams.”

3. Businesses at the forefront of social change

Jarin Baigent, Jarin Street

“2020 has been a rollercoaster for Jarin Street. Like many other First Nations business owners we have been hit hard by COVID-19, negatively impacting shipping and manufacturing, and it’s been hard to see that it took for the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement in America to highlight the Indigenous rights conversation here and put the Aboriginal and Torres Strait community - and businesses - in a spotlight.

The focus has been triggering for many, including myself, fielding questions on social media. There has also been a mass change in online Indigenous support with people checking their own privilege, feelings, knowledge, and of course their buying power, investing in Aboriginal business and economy by buying from us (in doing so supporting four Aboriginal owned businesses with families).

As a result, Jarin Street went from being almost completely unknown to thriving, and for that I am humbled. The Aboriginal business community has banded together drawing support from each other. I am proudly the founder of @tradingblak, a collective of 11 Aboriginal owned businesses that support ‘blak’ owned businesses and buying ‘blak’. 

2021 hopefully will see Australians and the world continue to invest in black businesses, not just while they're trending. What will I take into 2021?  To stand strong in my strength as a Wiradjuri woman and an Aboriginal business. Unapologetically.”

4. Refreshing and refocussing existing services

Donna De Zwart, Fitted for Work

“At Fitted for Work, we have seen first-hand how severe drought, unprecedented bushfires and a global pandemic has affected women’s economic security.

Women are over-represented in casual and part-time roles (68.7%) and are almost twice as likely to be underemployed, making them more vulnerable to financial insecurity and unemployment during times of adversity. This disadvantage is compounded by current social distancing restrictions, in which disproportionate caring responsibilities and rising reports of domestic violence further impact women’s economic security.

What’s next? Our team have been busy adapting our services to meet the growing needs of women, including:

  • Our new online women’s employment recovery program, Emerge, provides women with skills, knowledge and resilience to emerge from this crisis ready to take their place in the workforce and build a financially secure future.
  • With physical distancing restrictions changing the way people work and recruit, we have also introduced a new and very popular service offering: Virtual Presentation Appointments.”

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Things you should know

  • This article represents opinions and views of the interviewees personal experiences only.  It does not have regard to the situation or needs of any reader and must not be relied upon as advice. It is not intended to imply any recommendation or opinion about a financial product. Before acting on this information, consider its appropriateness to your circumstances. Commonwealth Bank of Australia ABN 48 123 123 124.