Chamber News

June 24, 2020 Likes Comments

A critical moment for today's critical conversation

We’ve reached a critical moment in our history.

Whether you are a CEO, managing partner, chief human resources officer, small business owner or mid-level manager, we have a responsibility and an opportunity to change the way we lead during these times when racial justice is at the top of everybody’s agenda, including our employees and our customers.
Last December, the Newton-Needham Regional Chamber formed a strategic partnership with Colette Phillips, President and CEO of Colette Phillips Communications, Inc., a public relations and Diversity, Equity and Inclusion expert, with more than 25 years' experience.

Phillips also founded Get Konnected! a pioneering diversity, inclusion and equity platform that brings professionals, business and civic leaders and entrepreneurs together across industries and sectors. She's on Boston Magazine’s 2020 Power list of the 100 Most Influential Bostonians, calling her “the undisputed queen bee of diversity in Boston." The Globe credited her with “changing the conversation on diversity and creating a more inclusive business climate in Boston.”

I’ve known Colette for more than two decades and was honored when she came to me late last year, offering to partner with the chamber on diversity initiatives focused on Greater Boston’s western suburbs.

(And if you’re looking for a resource for you and your company to tap as you work on the important issues of inclusion and racial equity, I’d suggest you reach out to Phillips as well.)

Some of our work with CP Communications was delayed due to the pandemic. But the need could not be more urgent. Phillips has joined the chamber and the chamber’s Diversity Committee and we’re planning programs and initiatives that we’ll be rolling out in the days to come.

First up is today’s 1 p.m. Zoom conversation featuring Phillips, and two other prominent Black CEOs: Darryl Settles, president of Catalyst Ventures Development, Quincy Miller, president of Eastern Bank.

Please join as we explore how we can lead to support racial equality and create an inclusive economy.
Sales tax free weekend set
The state sales tax holiday has been set for the weekend of Aug. 29 and Aug. 30, Gov. Charlie Baker announced yesterday.
“This break in the sales tax has always been an important way for the Commonwealth to support many small businesses and consumers, but it’s obviously especially important this year, given the fact that so many of those businesses have just recently reopened,” Baker said.
Tripadvisor sees modest improvements
Here at your chamber, we’re always urging folks to shop local, dine local and bank local.
Add to that list: Book your hotel local too.
By that, I mean, once you’re ready to travel again, consider reserving that hotel room (and other elements) through the Needham-based, our region’s largest private sector employer and a chamber member.
COVID-19 has been brutal to the travel industry. Tripadvisor eliminated 900 jobs, about 25 percent of their workforce. 850 additional employees were furloughed. Others faced pay cuts.
As Jon Chesto reported in the Globe yesterday, Tripadvisor is “seeing a gradual improvement from its darkest days in April: It saw a roughly 38 percent increase in unique monthly visitors from April to May; April site traffic was one-third of last year’s levels, while the traffic in May was nearly half of the year-ago volume. The company expects continued improvement in June.”
Day Care providers face big bills
Massachusetts allowed 48 daycare providers to reopen Monday. Another 100 businesses have reopening dates. But four percent of the state’s child care operators recently told the state they won’t be able to reopen under the new health and safety restrictions, WBUR reports.
Emma LaVecchia, the co-founder of Pine Village Preschool (a chamber member), says she’s going to need to find an additional quarter million dollars to reopen her ten centers in August.
"We’re going to end up doubling our glove use and cleaning supplies,” she said. “Then the schools are cleaned every night by a professional company and they’ve increased their prices dramatically." LaVecchia is considering a temporary tuition increase but doesn't want to price parents out of coming.
Equal Opportunity Law updates
Thanks to Liz Adler of Beacon Law Group for noting that the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) recently updated its very helpful information, in Q&A format, regarding disability and other equal employment laws in the COVID-19 era. Covered topics include:
  • Part A: Disability-Related Inquiries and Medical Exams (including screening for employees entering the workplace, and the handling of employees with symptoms) This section, in particular, is highly recommended (and quick) reading.
  • Part B: Confidentiality of Medical Information
  • Part C: Hiring and Onboarding
  • Part D: Reasonable Accommodation
  • Part E: Pandemic-Related Harassment Due to National Origin, Race, or Other Protected Characteristics
  • Part F: Furloughs and Layoffs
  • Part G: Return to Work
  • Part H: Age
  • Part I: Caregivers / Family Responsibilities
  • Part J: Pregnancy
We’ve lost more than a restaurant
Anthony's Coal Fired Pizza on Needham Street in Newton is the latest business to close due to the pandemic, Jenna Fisher at Newton Patch reports.
Anthony's, a chamber member and popular location for many networking events, first opened on Needham Street in early 2017, the fifth of the chain to open in the state.
But we're not just losing a popular place to go after work or soccer practice.
We're losing livelihoods. Check what one employee wrote about working at Anthony's on Monday:
“I always loved talking about my job at Anthony's Coal Fired Pizza (Newton). I had so much pride in being a part of a team, and representing a place I loved so much,” Michelle Sullivan wrote on Facebook.
“When I applied here, I was so scared. I was completely going out of my comfort zone, and was so terrified that I’d fail and not be able to do it. This was my first serving job ever, and I had so much doubt in myself. Before I knew it, three years went by so fast. I learned so many skills, met so many amazing people that turned into a family, developed an amazing customer base, and learned so much about myself,”
“I will take these skills I learned through every new chapter in my life. I never thought a job at a restaurant would change me so much. I am so so thankful for this company and all my managers that have come and gone, who believed in me and taught me so much…Thank you to everyone who visited me every Sunday on my special bartending days (you know how much it meant to me!) and the amazing team I had.”
President, Newton-Needham Regional Chamber
Your chamber is here when you need us.

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