Moving Forward: Lessons Learned from Resiliency


Disasters reveal where our society falls short. The coronavirus pandemic has uncovered the economic and racial inequalities beneath our social surface. But it uncovered a lesser-known inequity, too: the digital divide. Healthcare, education and our social lives all moved online during social distancing measures, and it’s become clear that not everyone has equal access to the internet.

While disruption from the pandemic has revealed society’s greatest inequities, it also provides a roadmap to an equitable digital revolution. Speakers and attendees of the Resiliency micro-conference on Friday, May 15th gathered digitally to understand the ramifications and opportunities afforded by disruption.

“Opportunity is found in disaster,” says Iam Christian Tucker, president, CEO and owner of ILSI Engineering. Tucker was joined on the virtual stage by Carlos Calix, Sarah Sharif, and Sean White. Here’s how you can take advantage of disruption to move the needle towards digital equity.

Find Opportunity in Disruption

Without major disruptions to work or economic instability, we tend to become complacent with our systems. But disruption reveals the cracks in our foundations, Visanji points out. For entrepreneurs, this is an opportunity to understand the real, pressing needs of your customers and clients. “[Disruption offers] a stronger alignment with customer expectations,” Sharif says.

This is a period of realigning, reorganizing and rebuilding. But we can’t fall into the trap of recreating broken systems, White says. He points to the birth of the internet as a time of disruption that revolutionized society. We’re at another such moment now, and how we proceed could change old standards and create new pathways for equity and excellence.

Innovate with Intention

Despite the economic shutdown, entrepreneurs have been busier than ever. But the priority has to be intentional and meaningful change. “Don’t do it all,” White says. “Do the important things.” If we want to make an impact on the future, then we have to be intentional about our evolution.

The pandemic has given entrepreneurs a chance to rethink and shift their digital strategy. Take the time to identify the essence of what your customers or clients need, and innovate around that, Sharif suggests. Calix, assistant VP of business development at the Ochsner Health System, points out that boundaries must be rethought to increase equitable access to healthcare. The same concept applies to digital equity.

Break Down Barriers to Equity

Disaster exacerbates unfair systems, and COVID-19 has revealed digital access inequity. “We are moving towards a virtual-first world,” Vishanji says. Entrepreneurs are uniquely positioned to be on the cutting edge of technology while still maintaining human connection. You can be agile in your response to large-scale change without losing sight of the people in front of you.

Being available and agile is critical moving forward, Tucker suggests. Lack of digital access perpetuates unfair social systems, but being present to the needs of your community will help you find solutions. In times of crisis we think of our options as binary: fight or flight, White points out. But the third option is to come together, and that’s the only way we’ll be able to bridge the digital divide.

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