A discussion of the communities most impacted by the pandemic, ideas for a widespread vaccination plan and why virtual home tours work. A roundup of Rotman faculty insights on COVID-19.
In November 2020, scientists closed in on developing an effective vaccine, public health experts considered the road ahead in the fight against COVID-19 and economists considered how businesses and world economies would recover. Here’s how professors from across the Rotman School of Management helped us make sense of the issues of the day.
In his piece for The Toronto Star, Walid Hejazi highlights how racialized communities have faced the most challenges during the pandemic. In Toronto, Black people and other people of colour account for half of the population but represent 83 per cent of reported COVID-19 cases. Hejazi, an associate professor of economic analysis and policy at Rotman, and his colleagues at Brock University and The Canadian Arab Institute have embarked on a new study that will evaluate the impact of COVID-19 on Arab, Black, Hispanic, Indigenous, South Asian, and other equity-seeking groups across Canada.
“There remains a significant gap in understanding how the COVID-19 pandemic is impacting equity-seeking groups in Canada,” he and his co-authors write. “Without community engaged research, interventions by government and civil society to mitigate the implications of the pandemic cannot be optimized.”
Sarah Kaplan, director of the Institute for Gender and the Economy and a distinguished professor of gender and the economy, and Rod Lohin, executive director of the Michael Lee-Chin Family Institute for Corporate Citizenship, explain how financial recovery goes hand-in-hand with social responsibility. In their piece for The Toronto Star, they argue that companies will need to move beyond shareholder expectations and build organizations that are healthy — financially and socially.
In a separate piece for Corporate Knights, Kaplan emphasizes the importance of building a caring economy — one that prioritizes childcare and green initiatives. She writes: “Ultimately, creating a caring economy redirects our attention, instead, to the value that comes from assuring equal opportunities for people of all genders, drinking clean water, providing good jobs with livable wages, avoiding devastating wildfires, investing in our children’s development, breathing clean air and saving our homes from flooding.”
Offering a public health perspective, Anita McGahan, a university professor and professor of strategic management, reminds readers of the work remaining in our battle against COVID. In her op-ed for The Toronto Star, she highlights the importance of following public health guidance (such as wearing masks, staying apart and interacting outdoors), using the best tools to prevent outbreaks (such as rapid testing, contact tracing, advanced analytics and wearing PPE), and developing innovative ways to support safer interactions, especially as cold weather sets in.
Though a vaccine might be imminent, Joshua Gans, the Jeffrey S. Skoll chair of Technical Innovation and Entrepreneurship and professor of strategic management, stresses the importance of planning. In his piece for The Toronto Star, he questions who will get to the vaccine first (the most vulnerable or the most likely to be active in the community?) and what the official guidance will be for the vaccinated (are they still required to take precautions or can they engage in social events freely?).
In a piece for STAT, Gans makes note of the of the vital role the internet played in spreading public health messaging and information. “COVID-19 may go down in history as the internet’s first truly great informational triumph,” he writes. “When we look at 2020, it is reasonable to say that part of the system finally worked. When we look beyond 2020, we should ask what more it can do.”
On a different note — virtual home tours are quickly becoming a necessary part of home-buying, and some might be skeptical about taking real estate shopping online. Sam Maglio, an associate professor of marketing and psychology at the University of Toronto Scarborough and Rotman, urges doubters to look at the up side. The digital distance can still give viewers the gut feeling of whether a home feels right, without overwhelming them. In his piece for The Toronto Star, he writes: “Like a strategically shaken ice cube, virtual walk-throughs and browsing sessions temper an otherwise scalding affective heat without diluting it.”