"As soon as we start to understand and see the benefits of private sector contribution, and then we set the roadmap, so we can understand how we can all play, great things will come from it." -Renae Hanvin
When businesses are resilient, communities can thrive! Join Jennifer and Corporate2Community Founder, Renae Hanvin as they discuss the crucial role of the private sector in recovery. Renae narrates how they were able to align the right corporate to match the specific needs of a community. She expounds further on this framework as a bridge to meet immediate needs and support recovery in the long run. They also discuss how the public and the private sector can serve as one instead of operating independently. The private sector is a vital component of recovery before, during, and even post-disaster. Press play and hear practical ways on how businesses can show up authentically during a crisis.
- 01:05: From Corporate to Community
- 05:55: Disaster and the Private Sector
- 09:33: Output vs Outcomes
- 13:01: The Relationship Between the Public and Private Sector
- 18:39: Capitalism vs Authentic Contribution
02:17: "If we don't have resilient businesses in our communities, we're not going to have thriving communities." -Renae Hanvin
05:55: "Recovery is a complex and a long-term initiative. The recovery, the rebuild, and the reimagine don't start until that first year." -Renae Hanvin
08:16: "We need every small and medium business up and running as fast as possible. If they can safely continue to trade, that's best for everyone as well." -Renae Hanvin
11:33: "The most important thing is asking the question, 'What do you need?' and 'How can we help?. By starting there and working backward, that's how we meet the needs of the community." -Jennifer Thompson
11:46: "People feel free when they reimagine what it is that they're trying to do." -Jennifer Thompson
12:22: "Never bring in a private sector that you know is not right for them to partner with. You have to be so respectful." -Renae Hanvin
15:38: "The public and private sector relationship is challenging and complex. It all comes down to relationship building and trust." -Renae Hanvin
17:14: "As soon as we start to understand and see the benefits of private sector contribution and then we set the roadmap so we can understand how we can all play, great things will come from it." -Renae Hanvin
18:26: "There's a huge difference between disaster capitalism and the role of the private sector." -Jennifer Thompson
Renae founded corporate2community in 2018, motivated by her personal experience of disasters and understanding of the role businesses can play in helping Australian communities before, during, and after impacts. As a leading partnership broker between industry and government, Renae shapes private sector solutions while bolstering government efforts in the delivery of community resilience-led outcomes. Renae leads forward-thinking approaches, processes, and partnerships; providing pathways for the private sector and government to collaborate and co-design community resilient solutions. Building resilient businesses and helping communities thrive is a shared responsibility that requires collaborative contribution.
Jennifer Gray Thompson: Welcome Renae, it is so good to see you again. I really appreciate having you on to How To Disaster. Can you please tell our audience a little bit about who you are and where your organization is?
"If we don't have resilient businesses in our communities, we're not going to have thriving communities." -Renae Hanvin
Renae Hanvin: Yeah. Hi, Jennifer. I always love talking to you. So my name is Renae Hanvin. I'm the founder of corporate2community, and I'm talking to you from Melbourne, which is one of the main cities in Victoria, the state of Victoria in Australia. My background is stakeholder engagement. I've done a lot of work in the private sector in Australia. About 10 years ago, I was leading the community response to disasters for our Australian postal service. And we had major floods up in Queensland in one of our states. And responding to that and leading the Postal Service, I started to identify and I guess think about what role could the private sector and what role should the postal service play when it came to disasters from the organizational perspective, from the community perspective, from how we should work with government in terms of, also how a lot of our small postal outlets or small businesses, how are they ready, and how are they responding. And I guess that set the fire in my belly to set up corporate2community, which is a business in Australia that's purely focused on activating and advocating for businesses before, during and after disasters. And we have three focus areas. The first one is to build resilient businesses. If we don't have resumed businesses in our communities, we're not going to have thriving communities. We need businesses to go to work, and obviously, earn the money, and to spend in communities. Our second focus is thriving communities or helping communities thrive. So we see the dual relationship between resilient businesses and thriving communities. And then our third focus, which I think is the most important is leading collaborations. So we lead collaborations across businesses, corporates to small businesses, businesses to communities, then private sector and public sector governments as well.
Jennifer Gray Thompson: So take us through a day, because this podcast is called How To Disaster. A disaster occurs, and we're going to leave COVID out of this for just a moment because it's such a long, slow moving different type of disaster could say, like the bushfires, for example. How do you deploy your skills and your talents in order to help people and also deploy their skills and talents? What does that look like when you walk into the room, and who's in that room?
Renae Hanvin: Yeah. Well, most importantly, our work starts before the disasters so we do a lot. And I'd say we do about 80% of our work in the preparedness and in the planning stage. So we work with a lot of corporates in terms of identifying what their corporate social responsibility plans are, and what their disaster response plans are. How are they actively connected with the communities or from an organizational resilience perspective? How do they understand the response of emergency services? How do they identify what role they can play when it comes to disasters? So for example, we talked to electricity providers about what's your business continuity plan? And then how do you inform your customers that the power is gonna get turned off? And then how do you support the vulnerable customers in your community to be able to survive? So is there that next kind of step that you can offer when an actual disaster happens? Obviously, chaos i's in. To be honest with you, we take a bit of a step back when that happens because we're not the expert responders. We have fantastic, amazing emergency services organizations in Australia, they're world class in many ways, particularly in fire. So we kind of--
Jennifer Gray Thompson: They showed up for us.
Renae Hanvin: Yes. Yeah, we do. Australia and California have a fantastic relationship from the fire perspective. So we tend to wait intil we're invited. Usually at that time, we have a lot of communities connecting with us. So for example, with the unprecedented fires we had at the start of 2020 and end of 2019. A lot of communities that were in the past that were potentially going to be impacted would connect with us and say: "We're assuming we're going to be impacted. This is what we need now to be able to respond and recover when it happens." So that's kind of the role being invited into roundtables and discussions are happening at that government level, but then we kind of kick in again with the recovery. So after the immediate threat, and response, and the fires have been put out in theory, as soon as communities and businesses then start going into the recovery process, then that's when we kick in as well.
Jennifer Gray Thompson: So we're a long term recovery organization as well. And one of the reasons why I'm so excited to meet you for a variety of reasons. One of them is I don't often meet people in the long term recovery part of the process, it tends to be the least sexiest place it has. If you used amount of selfies, it doesn't deal with donations in quite the same way. So tell me about the gap in services that exists in long term post disaster, and how it is that you help address it from small to large businesses and communities. How they address their needs, and sort of be surprised then 12, 18, 24, 36 months out?
"Recovery is a complex and a long-term initiative. The recovery, the rebuild, and the reimagine don't start until that first year." -Renae Hanvin
Renae Hanvin: Recovery is such a complex and a long term initiative. In fact, we're just in the process of writing a paper at the moment because it's world practice I think. That anytime there's a disaster, obviously, everyone wants to help and corporates want to help. And the corporate donations that came during the bush fires was also unprecedented. I mean, it was extraordinary the amount of funding and support that came. And it's all given then. So you have this exorbitant amount of money coming in for that relief, much of it coming into channels that can't actually be spent anything else except for an instant relief. And then we know that, and we're going through at the moment. So a lot of our bushfire impacted communities are just hitting that six month mark. So six months since the fires kind of went out in some of these communities. Yeah, let's not talk about COVID because that's a whole other layer on it. But so much of the funds, the questions are, why the funds not spent? Where are the funds? How come we don't have access to the funds? And Jennifer, the recovery really for communities, we find after previous major bushfires, it doesn't really start until that first anniversary.
So from one year is when the communities have got through, they've sorted out the immediate needs. But the actual, the rebuild and the reimagine doesn't really start until that first year. And I think what we're trying to do with a lot of the corporate giving is play like an 80/20 rule, or even 20/80 rule. Put 20% into the instant now, and put 80% into the longer term recovery. And people say to me, oh, but we need a press release, like every other corporate to say that we're giving you know. We're part of that million dollar giver. So you can say that. You can say you're giving a million dollars, but actually give it. When you give it, have the strategy to give some now and then work with an organization like your organization. And we have some fantastic organizations, one called the FRRR, which is similar, they work in regional and remote communities. Give them 80% of it and they can use it over five years because that's when the communities are going to really, really need it. And you can still get, in fact, you get five years of [inaudible] because what's coming out of it is still being talked about five years later. For the small business side--
Jennifer Gray Thompson: True.
"We need every small and medium business up and running as fast as possible. If they can safely continue to trade, that's best for everyone as well." -Renae Hanvin
Renae Hanvin: Yeah. And I think small business, it's different. So the focus for us with small businesses is we do, and again, linking to our focus of building resilient businesses. We need every small and medium business up and running as fast as possible. In fact, if they can safely continue to trade, then that's best for everyone as well. So as communities are going through the recovery, much like getting the schools back up and running so you can get the kids back to normal. And getting small businesses economically, socially and mentally is really fundamental too. So we have a different approach to support them.
Jennifer Gray Thompson: So one of the things that we have really aligned on is outcomes based service. Can you talk a little bit about the difference, what does that mean exactly? How is that different from [inaudible] to serve?
Renae Hanvin: Yeah. I mean, the main thing that I am talking about here is, I guess, outputs versus outcomes. So a lot of the grant programs, the government structures and spending is soloed focused. What does my department or my team, what do we have to do? What has to be in the press release? How many numbers do we have to showcase for that? And I think, obviously, we all need to support and contribute when disasters happen. I think that's completely the wrong way of looking at it. Because at the end of the day, what you need to put as a checklist, what does that actually give to those who need it most? And is that actually giving what they need at most? So every time I walk into the room, I just flip every conversation. I was in a supply chain conversation earlier in March this year, and all of the food and grocery retailers were telling me about their system, how their system worked and what their system couldn't do. And I said, hang on a minute, let's flip this to, we have communities in X, Y, and Z location that are not getting food, and dare I say it toilet paper. But that's a whole other ridiculous story about here. So how can we actually just work together to work out as a collective system? How can we get the outcome of being these communities getting food and supplies because that's what we need to work to. And it was really interesting watching, and these are majority private sector, and also some governments sitting there and it was like silence. And they're all just like, oh, okay. And then 10 minutes later, we had an outcome where we work together. And so I supplied that, and they supplied that, and then they merged tracks, and we had an independent distributor and wow. It happens.
"The most important thing is asking the question, 'What do you need?' and 'How can we help?. By starting there and working backward, that's how we meet the needs of the community." -Jennifer Thompson
Jennifer Gray Thompson: Yes. And it's the traffic of ideas for disaster, and it's such an important role. We would wish for every community to have a Renae Hanvin, or ReBuild NorthBay where you can step in and say, this is actually all that we do. And we're happy to help you, just coordinate what could go where. But the most important thing is we always believe asking the question, What do you need, and how can we help? And by starting there and working backwards, like you did with the brochures, that's how we actually meet the needs of the community. I think it actually is any people feel a little free even when they reimagine what it is that they're trying to do there. And so they tend to react to other words that have that experience.
"People feel free when they reimagine what it is that they're trying to do." -Jennifer Thompson
Renae Hanvin: Yeah, 100%. I was gonna say we're 100% supportive of community-led. So whether it's community-led resilience, community-led preparedness, community-led recovery, you have to let the community be the latest in that. But communities are not expert recovery personnel. So supporting them to help them identify what are your capabilities, and what are your strengths? Here are the gaps. How do you want to fill those gaps? So we would never bring in a private sector off our own back to say, Oh, he's a bank, he's going to give you some money into a community. It's not right for them to partner with that sort of organization. You have to be so respectful. The traffic light system I think is a fantastic way to look at it.
"Never bring in a private sector that you know is not right for them to partner with. You have to be so respectful." -Renae Hanvin
Jennifer Gray Thompson: Can you tell us a little bit about your 50 communities project? Because I was looking at your social media, and I think that people can underestimate the value of very practical things too. I just think at one point, did this call out for crock pots? And perfect sensitive post disaster community, but can you talk about that program? And what you've been doing with it there?
Renae Hanvin: 50 communities was the first initiative we set up. So when we created corporate2community, we had to try, and I guess work out, how can we teach people what we're trying to do? And how can we show people what the outcomes can be? So 50 communities was set up basically to ask communities around Australia, what do you need? What are two little things that you need to help your community be prepared, or to recover, or to build resilience? And we had really interesting requests, things like some high vis vests. So that when the next fire season happened, they could give it to other community leaders. So again, that's so small. We would match them with a corporate who could provide those so they got those, so they didn't have to try and find grant funding or raise sausages or barbecue money or whatever. And it worked really effectively. I think, as you said, the one that sticks out most for me, and I mentioned or alluded to it before was a community who had bushfires coming. They reached out to us and said: "We haven't used our two requests of things that you can potentially match with. Again, we think a fire is coming. We know that we're not going to have enough cooking utilities in our recovery center in the community. So if our recovery center survives, we're gonna have anticipating 250 people. Can you get us some crock pots or some local goods?" And we're like, absolutely. So we delivered and got delivered into that community what they would need literally within a few weeks, and they did actually need them a few weeks later. So again, it's those little things that can just make such a difference in those communities.
Jennifer Gray Thompson: I love that program. I think that we should study it more and build it into our own framework of resiliency, because people talk about resiliency all the time. And of course, we're all trying to become more resilient. I love the fact that they hadn't asked, they had used up their two wishes in this way and they were able to use them in a way that you easily and quickly were able to fulfill. So super impressive. How do you relate to the public sector? Because one of the things that we have found is much better as it goes. But initially, it would be when our massive disaster happened in 2017, the public sector also lost their homes, they were also completely stressed out, they were working crazy hours, but some of them contracted into themselves. They felt like they had to solve everything. And then so partnering with a non traditional nonprofit, we're a nonprofit, was a little bit surprising to them. We met with some resistance until they really understood what the model was, which was also to support them as well as small businesses. So how did that work out for you?
"The public and private sector relationship is challenging and complex. It all comes down to relationship building and trust." -Renae Hanvin
Renae Hanvin: Yeah. So the public and private sector relationship, I mean, it's challenging and it's complex. I think it all comes down to relationship building and trust. I do a lot with Daniel Aldrich, who is a US based academic intellectual capital. I love what he says about the foundation for resiliency people and people connections. So we bring into the room private sector, and we bring into the room public sector, and we see how they just can't even talk the same language, let alone get to the point where they potentially can work together. So again, very much of our role is to be intermediate to try and educate each side of the fence in terms of, well, that's the role you do play, and that's the role you do play. Here's the gap that's needed, so what part of who's going to do what, or do we need another organization to come in and kind of be that medium? To be honest with you, I don't think bushfires really changed. However, we are expecting a release of our royal commission into the bushfires. And an interim report was published last week, which has acknowledged the role and the contribution of the private sector. So I'm hoping that it means that we can open the doors for discussions. There have been recent capability frameworks that have come out of some of our states in terms of how we need to prepare for fires. And the private sector is no longer just a bullet point stakeholder group private sector, it's actually now being integrated into those frameworks. And I think that's the step. As soon as we start to understand and see the benefits of private sector contribution, and then we set the roadmap and the road rules so we can understand how we can all play, and how we can all be on the road together. Then I think great things will come from it. And to be honest with you, I know we're not talking about COVID, but COVID has been, I think, a key driver of that because COVID is impacting everyone so relevant to everyone.
Jennifer Gray Thompson: Sorry, but watch the private sector to take a lead in our country anyway. Because with our COVID situation as we refer to it, we're seeing our private sector step up. For example, yesterday, the Old Navy announced that they would pay all their employees, co-workers on the day of our presidential election because all of our workers are usually older. I would never have expected that, but that actually made me, I was pretty moved by that. I thought, well, that's incredibly smart because their workforce is much younger. And what a wonderful use of gender. Even sports are, it's interesting to see new people pop into the field of disaster. And there's so needed and so appreciated. And we understand, and I think we probably run into the exact same thing. There's a huge difference between disaster capitalism and the role of the private sector. So can you talk a little bit about how that shows up in a disaster, either preparing for it or responding to it.
"As soon as we start to understand and see the benefits of private sector contribution and then we set the roadmap so we can understand how we can all play, great things will come from it." -Renae Hanvin
Renae Hanvin: Yeah. So just quickly lay back. What you're mentioning about businesses starting to think differently, I have to say, since we met, I use the word reimagined. Now, almost every day, I love it, I think it's so fantastic. Because it is, we're not rebuilding, we're not building back better, which I can't stand that term. We are, we have to reimagine and it is not a new normal at all. There's so many words popping out. But we need to reimagine, and I think it's such a hopeful and a positive word. So I just have to say that I am using that everywhere. I made that famous, made that famous in Australia as well. I think though, in terms of the capitalism versus authentic contribution, I have a saying when I go into corporates is, the token is broken. So if I go into a corporate and I'm advising them during a disaster in advance to create the strategies to how they're going to give, as soon as I say the marketing person in the room with us, I know exactly where the conversation is wanting to go. And so I have very authentic morals and very genuine morals around what I say, ISN'T isn't acceptable. And if a corporate is wanting to purely commercially profit from what they want to get out of it, that's great. I'll have absolutely nothing to do with it. And in fact, I will let them know that I'll be watching them and I'll probably be poking some of what they're doing. Do you know to quit? I'll give you an example, Coca Cola over here. So when the bushfires happened, they had a campaign over here that was named, name a can . So you're buying the cans. I don't know if you had it over there, but you could buy cans and it had like, oh, I might have Renae on it, I would have mom, all that sort of stuff. So that was happening at the time. And then when the fires happened, they bought out these cans with [inaudible]. I was like, oh, okay. Well, that's gonna earn them like gazillions. Everyone's gonna be wanting to buy those cans. So I reached out to the--
Jennifer Gray Thompson: Hold on, one moment. They're doing construction next door, and I already talked to them. Sorry, okay, so good. Start with the heavy cans with all their names on.
Renae Hanvin: Yeah, so they had the cans with, do you want me to start at the start so you can edit it, or go just--
Jennifer Gray Thompson: Yes. You have three minutes and 32 seconds on our timer.
"There's a huge difference between disaster capitalism and the role of the private sector." -Jennifer Thompson
Renae Hanvin: Yeah. Cuckoo. Yeah. So they had these cans and [inaudible] on them. So I rang them up to basically say, what's going on here? What are you going to do with the profits? And they said to me: "Well, no, we're not making profits for it. We're making these cans to give to the fire ease as a gesture of how much we value them in what they're doing." And I thought that is just so authentic and genuine. And they had a lot of other strategic ways that they were helping from a financial and helping the small businesses in the impacted areas. But I was like, that's a genuine way of really recognizing the heroes of the bushfires. But he's not tokenistic, and it's not profit led. And I have to say, the Australian, a woman who looks after the community approach to disasters is absolutely a fantastic, great case study.
Jennifer Gray Thompson: I love that. Thank you so much. Renae, I just really want to thank you for spending this time with us. I am really grateful to personnels and for introducing us, and I look forward to having many more conversations with you in the future. So thank you again, very much.
Renae Hanvin: Thanks so much, Jennifer. Thanks.