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5:30pm - 8:30pm
Museum of Science
The Fierce Urgency of Now Festival brings Boston’s diverse young professionals together with business leaders, organizations and their peers to build connection, advance careers and ignite positive change.
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2:00pm - 3:30pm
Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce
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On the second day of the Fierce Urgency of Now festival, a world-class panel convened to discuss how businesses impact our region, how people can advocate for change no matter the industry they work in, and what Boston’s tomorrow will look like.
As the panel kicked off, a quote from Massachusetts State Representative, Ayanna Pressley, was shared, “the people closest to the pain should be the closest to the power.”
The moderator and panelists detailed as follows:
In this event, questions were posed for the panelists to discuss. Below we recap the key takeaways.
The Boston Chamber of Commerce’s President and CEO, Jim Rooney, replied:
Even before COVID, the population of immigrants was increasing in Boston. We are in a moment now where 1/3 of the workforce in the region, and 22% of Bostonians, are immigrants. Immigrants hold $36B in spending power, and contribute $10B to federal taxes and $5B to state taxes. The business case is clear. What we need is advocacy at the federal level. We need to:
Weber Shandwick’s Micho Spring, who came to this country from Cuba at age 10, replied:
After managing the communications of the racial riots in the 70s at City Hall, for American Airlines during 9/11 and the Boston Athletic Association through the Boston Marathon bombing, Micho says the important thing to do is “meet the moment and bracket it – this is the end, and we are now going to move forward.” COVID-19 defies bracketing in that there is no marker to take it back to what we knew.
Nothing has as ever impacted every human being on the planet at the same time – the dynamics of work/family, employer/employee, and business/society. Here’s what we’ve learned about communication from this:
Windwalker Group’s Herbie Duverne shared:
We already see a prime example of how we are coming back from this history as a city by looking at the diversity in the candidates for the Boston mayoral election. People are focusing on making change. It is not just enough to invite a marginalized community to a space, but they have to be involved in the planning efforts. We need to examine their needs so that we can address them. Urban planners should focus on prioritizing green space so that everyone is able to go to parks.
The Barr Foundations’ Jim Canales replied:
Boston ranks second in the United States as having the largest number of residents within a ten-minute walk of a public park. We are doing well, but one thing we have not done is to go to the neighborhood level and invite them to tell us what they want from open space, streets, and communities. We did experiments during COVID with turning converted parking to restaurant space in order to serve more people outdoors. This created spaces for dining and helped restaurants. We need to continue to drive a narrative that is more inclusive and inviting.
Micho Spring replied:
The most important things are to define your values and what is important to you while looking for opportunities that reflect and channel your values through an organization’s leadership. Think about where you will grow as a person. For many, the ability to grow personally and professionally means more than pay itself. As the lines between work and personal lives blur, find an environment where you will learn from the right people, that will make you proud each day, and that allows for progressive change. The pandemic has also shifted power to employees, so be bold in asking for what you want.
A couple of our panelists weighed in on this final question:
Micho Spring said: “they not only demand business have a plan, a conscience and that it delivers. They believe in the role business can play in societal change, they don’t take no for an answer and expect a diverse workplace.”
Jim Canales added: “the level of energy, ambition and the push for bold and aspirational solutions. They hold managers accountable, are flexible and able to pivot and have a high level of engagement to help Boston fulfill promise.”