Women changing the way they work

Nancy Shaw, CEO of the Greater Oshawa Chamber of Commerce. Photo credit: Courtesy of Greater Oshawa Chamber of Commerce

Greater Oshawa Chamber of Commerce (GOCC) has been supporting women in business for years. GOCC CEO Nancy Shaw says she has noticed a new trend emerging during the pandemic, as business owners nimbly shift to each restriction placed on them.

“For instance, one of our members, she has a hair salon. She started making up touch up kits for clients to colour their hair during the pandemic, while the salon was closed,” said Shaw in an email. “They arranged curbside pickup of the kits.”

Shaw also provided another example form the food industry.

“A restaurant, owned by one of our members, she never had done take out…started a whole meal takeout, that you take home with the instructions on how to prepare the meal,” said Shaw.

She said the dynamic shift in business will probably continue to evolve that way.

Shaw also said there has been an increase in business partnerships and she believes it’s pandemic-related.

“More people working from home, feeling a little more secure and not having the overhead and being able to open a business from home while keeping their costs down, so we may see more of that as well,” said Shaw.

“There aren’t a lot of women-led businesses or owned by women, what I do see is a lot of partnerships with their spouses,” said Shaw.

Although Oshawa municipal government is a separate entity from GOCC, Shaw works closely with officials at city hall to guide women starting in business to the right areas.

Shaw says finding the right location for the business is important so the owner will be able to have a steady flow of traffic.

She also says it is her priority to connect owners with city hall so they can obtain permits and any other legal documentation.

Shaw encourages women to join GOCC as they host women in business conferences, usually four times a year, but have adapted to virtual events over the last year.

“We’ll have 50 or 60 women come out and we have guest speakers, we do interactive exercises so that they can really have strong networking women-to-women, peer-to-peer, and be able to learn from one another,” said Shaw.

She says the event is happening less because of the pandemic, but past events have had guest speakers and informative panels.

“You want to make sure that when you’re bringing it together virtually, it has quite a bit of value and it’s different than in person when you can do a lot of networking when you arrive and leave,” said Shaw.