Businesses who do the right thing will be rewarded when crisis ends - Beckie Hart

Over the last few weeks I’ve tried to tackle in my columns some of the issues and challenges that coronavirus is bringing to businesses and the wider economy but also shine a local light on some the other areas that might be in the media a lot, like protective equipment, and others that aren’t like mental health.

Today, I want to touch on business reputation and why, I think, good businesses will be rewarded at the end of this crisis.

My starting point is a simple one, in times of need companies can really make a difference – and customers will notice. You can, as I keep saying on the phone or in the many virtual calls that are taking place, cement a lifelong relationship – but you can also do irreparable damage.

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In coronavirus, the world is currently facing an issue the like of which hasn’t been seen for many generations and brands and the businesses behind them are now showing their true colours.


The dramatic effect of the coronavirus on the British economy has posed serious challenges for the country’s companies and their employees.

Some have been applauded for their actions – making donations to health workers, for instance – while others have quickly fallen foul of politicians, the public and their own workers.

Companies like LNER have re-deployed their staff to help with the vital food distribution effort that Fareshare operate. In turn, FareShare have been supported by a multi-million-pound donation by Asda.

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Many other companies deserve our praise, I am humbled that the list is so long from SMEs like Twinkl providing free access to learning resources to support the home schooling of our regions’ children to large corporations like Drax donating laptops to local schools.

Beckie HartBeckie Hart
Beckie Hart

Whether they are in our region or not, all of them are our business heroes and this is a topic I will continue to return to in the days and weeks ahead.

Yorkshire and Humber businesses are facing unprecedented levels of economic disruption as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, with many struggling to survive the sudden ceasing of trade and subsequent negative cash flows.

Lack of cash is rendering previously healthy companies unable to continue in business, facing a significant threat of insolvency despite considerable government intervention.

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The £330bn funding programme for UK businesses incorporates, amongst other measures, government-backed loan schemes, funding to support jobs, and assistance for the self-employed.

The speed with which coronavirus has impacted the economy means there is an inevitable time lag whilst the schemes are developed and implemented, however, and during this time businesses have little access to cash.

Organisations like our regions’ LEPs, trade associations and business organisations are fully focussed on supporting businesses and helping them access the funds they need or signposting them towards experts.

This is something that, I hope, is making a difference but businesses can and must protect their reputations throughout this.

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I do believe though that when businesses get through this tough period, good firms throughout our region will be rewarded. Our good values will be rewarded.

People like firms who, when hard times happen, stick by their staff, suppliers and their communities – invest more if they can and double down on those who supported them from the beginning.

Businesses that cherish their reputations during this critical period by acts of kindness and by having a considerate approach to their customers and employees alike, will have a much brighter future.

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