Learning to embrace our new reality.
It goes without saying that the COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically altered many facets of Canadian life. The masks, the disrupted and rearranged working environments, the ongoing collective need to monitor and safeguard against virus transmission all testify to this. But there’s one very important thing that the virus hasn’t—and dare I say can’t—touch: Canadians’ willingness to pull together and do what is best and right to ensure the health of our communities and the economy. We’ve seen a lot over the past several months and no matter what we are yet to see in the months to come, we have been and are in this together. And it shows. This fact continues to give me hope that we will indeed reach the pandemic’s far side, more resilient than ever.
We cannot, however, expect to return to “normal.” This pandemic is one for the history books, in that its impacts will be lasting and felt for years to come. It has changed us—not completely but in ways both large and small that cannot simply be undone.
We cannot, in other words, turn back the clock. We need to prepare for a new, post-pandemic, reality.
First, we can learn from and take stock of our silver linings. Some of the changes we’ve had to make have been individually negative, but I think they will add up to a net positive. Physical distancing, for instance—a central feature of the initial and necessary reaction to the pandemic, as well as our continued approach to recovery—is fundamentally unnatural, but it has led to a tremendous increase in our understanding of the power and importance of digital technologies, as well as our ability to use them effectively.
Second, having learned, we can act—and not just to get us over the hump but to build the organizations, the communities and the leaders whose resilience and vision we’ll need to truly move forward and assure our ability to face the next crisis directly, decisively and together. After all, times like these heighten our awareness and provide an opportunity to rebuild better and stronger, ready for the next challenge. We have, in short, been reminded of our ability to adapt and move forward.
Third, and key to our actions, we must recognize the systemic and structural inequalities that life under the pandemic has brought into sharp relief. While these inequalities have sadly long been with us, there can be no excuse for failing, finally, to see them for what they are: unfair, unjust and unacceptable. We’ve shown each other that we are ready to do what is right even when it’s hard. We therefore owe it to each other not to let up.
But first, we’ll need to redefine the boundaries of our economic and our social activity. We’ll need to reimagine the contours of our daily expectations and routines. Probably most of all, we’ll need to rethink “business as usual.” I believe every Canadian should want to be a part of this conversation, and to actively engage how we reshape life, work and play in our country.
As the CEO of KPMG in Canada, I can promise you that we are doing, and will continue to do, our part to help our people, our clients and our communities not just to withstand today’s unprecedented pressures but to put them in service of a stronger tomorrow.
This means, as a firm, that we will always be honest and fair, even and especially when the stakes are highest. It means we will relentlessly refuse to rest on our laurels, and that we will do so not only with openness to new ideas but also with the courage to recognize our own limitations. It means we will draw strength from our differences, and strive to show care and consideration in everything and to everyone. And it means we will never lose sight of our role in building trust in the capital markets and in business generally.
KPMG is fiercely proud to serve Canadian businesses and to help our communities grow. That’s why we will do these things and behave these ways both inside and outside our still mostly virtual offices. The pandemic, of course, isn’t over, and we don’t know when it will be. But when it is and the new reality is upon us, one thing won’t have changed: we will still be in it together.
Chief Executive Officer and Senior Partner
KPMG in Canada
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