By Francis M. Walley III, CIC, CPCU | F. M. Walley Insurance, A Division of C&S Insurance
Each new year brings forth new resolutions. Most often, these are the goals we set for self-improvement and personal health. But as 2019 draws to a close and we open the door to a brand-new decade, I’d like to urge fellow Chamber members to focus on the wellbeing of their businesses. Specifically, I’d like to remind people about the coverage gaps that often exist in the areas of cyber liability and employment practices liability.
If you don’t know very much about these growing business risks, you’re not alone. Without totally boring you, here’s a quick look at both issues:
These days, cyber liability events can come in many different forms: phishing scams, malware attacks, a company-use cell phone lost or stolen at the airport. And the targets aren’t just mega corporations any more—far from it. According to a 2018 report, 58% of all cyber attacks targeted small businesses. Which begs the question:
What would happen if someone gained access to all your clients’ contact details and payment information? What is someone shut down your operating system for ransom? Between the cost of the business interruption itself and the cost of your legal fees, potential fines and penalties, forensic investigation, required customer notification and credit reparation services… experts estimate that recovery from even a “small” business data breach can cost between $36,000 and $50,000.
The good news is that cyber liability insurance can help you offset these costs, and protect your business from being victimized in the first place.
Employment Practices Liability
Now let’s talk about what’s happening inside your organization. You probably have insurance to protect your business in the event of a fire, right? But did you know: in today’s work environment, you’re more likely to be sued by an employee than experience a fire? It’s true. Employee lawsuits are on the rise. In 2015, in Massachusetts alone, small companies (those employing between six and fourteen workers) paid more than $1,400,000 in compensation for claimants’ lost wages and emotional distress.
The most common claims? Discrimination. Discrimination can mean denying a promotion, withholding a job offer, or firing an employee on the basis of race, religion, age, sex (including pregnancy), disability, citizenship, marital status, arrest record, gender identity, or military service. What’s more, in Massachusetts, you (the business owner) can be held liable for discriminatory actions made by your managers or supervisors.
For these reasons and many more, we believe it’s worth asking your agent for an EPLI (employment practices liability insurance) quote. EPLI helps companies pay to defend employee allegations (which can be pretty steep, even if you’re 100% in the right) and also address any settlements awarded.
Bottom line: we know there’s a lot of catch-up work to do after the year-end holiday break. And maybe your insurance program isn’t exactly top of mind this January. But if you have a free moment—in the coming weeks—we’re always here to help you review and reassess your Massachusetts business insurance program.
Meanwhile, we wish you all the best for a happy and prosperous new year. Cheers!
I write as I approach the end of my tenure as Chair of the Neponset River Regional Chamber to share some thoughts and reflections on what I have learned over the past year.
While attending a conference this past month on the state of education, I listened to Author Grant Lichtman present his new book, Thrive: How Schools Will Win the Education Revolution. Mr. Lichtman referred to Harvard Business School Professor John Kotter’s 8 Steps to Change which are as follows:
• Step One: Create Urgency
• Step Two: Form a Powerful Coalition
• Step Three: Create a Vision for Change
• Step Four: Communicate the Vision
• Step Five: Remove Obstacles
• Step Six: Create Short-Term Wins
• Step Seven: Build on the Change
• Step Eight: Anchor the Changes in Corporate Culture
I realized later, as I reflected on what I had heard, that we can use these principles to guide us as we recognize and accept our changing business landscape and the inevitable ways that these changes impact us as a Chamber, and call on us to make appropriate adjustments. So, while change is never easy, it is our challenge at this point in time and one that I think these guiding principles will help us to achieve.
Mr. Lichtman concluded his talk by saying that to be successful in this era of competition and competing demands, the key is to make your product irresistible. I am confident that we can achieve this goal. So, while I end my time as Chair with much work still to be done, I invite you all to participate with your time, talent and treasure as we shepherd our Neponset River Regional Chamber to becoming simply irresistible in the eyes of our business community.
Alisia St. Florian
Chair of the Board
Murphy, Hesse, Toomey & Lehane, LLC
It's hard to believe how quickly another year is racing by. With that in mind I want to remind our members of a few items to consider before the holiday rush takes our mind off of business and on to celebrations with family and friends.
It's that time of year to think about those businesses and individuals whose contributions to the Chamber and the community deserve recognition. Our Annual Meeting will take place on Friday, January 31st at the Four Points Sheraton in Norwood (mark your calendar).
As always we will be presenting four awards based on your recommendations: Small Business of the Year; Large Business of the Year; Business Person of the Year and the Paul Smith Award for Outstanding Volunteerism.
Please take a moment to consider whom you think might be a worthy recipient and submit a nomination for them. The form is easy to complete and can be downloaded here.
You can view a list of previous winner's here.
Our partners at Chamber PG are beginning their work on the annual printed Membership Directory and Community Guide. If you haven't been contacted yet about placing an ad in the guide, you will be soon. Or you could reach out to Kenneth Leonard at email@example.com. The guide is distributed to all members and also to area hotels, town halls and libraries.
You should also have received an email recently asking you to update your contact information so that it is correctly displayed in the guide. Please click the link to your member portal to ensure that your listing is up to date. Or you could login from the Chamber homepage by clicking the "Member Login" button.
President and CEO
The school buses are rolling again and so is the Chamber's Education and Business Committee.
Last spring we asked members to participate in a survey of Massachusetts businesses to provide information about the business community’s views on education, workforce and skill.
The Massachusetts Business Alliance for Education, Associated Industries of Massachusetts and the Massachusetts Business Roundtable sponsored the survey and the MassINC Polling Group, prepared the report.
Thank you to those who participated from our Chamber. The results of the survey are in and we wanted share them with you.
Here are some of the key findings:
• Employers are struggling fill positions in their companies, in part because of fierce competition in a hot economy, and in part because candidates lack the skills needed for open jobs.
• Education matters to the business climate. “Access to a talented workforce” is the single most important factor in evaluating the state’s business climate.
• Employers continue to see a gap between the overall performance of schools and the job the schools are doing preparing students for the workforce.
• Business leaders want to focus their advocacy on improving the applied skills taught to students, hiring better teachers, increasing hands-on and vocational/technical education, and forging business partnerships with schools.
Read the full report here
The Chamber along other business groups throughout the state will be using results in our engagement with the legislature on a variety of issues including education funding reform, increasing student access to in-demand industry skills, and expanding opportunities for students to earn credentials and benefit from work-based learning opportunities.
The Chamber's Education and Business Committee meets next on Tuesday, September 10th at 8:30 am at the Chamber office. All are welcome.
President and CEO
The Chamber held its 125th Anniversary Celebration on September 19th at the Paul Revere Heritage Site in Canton. Fittingly, 125 guests turned out on a beautiful late summer evening to enjoy the festivities.
Current members, new members and some old friends we haven't seen in years, all assembled to commemorate the milestone occasion. A delicious menu was prepared by Northern Spy restaurant, who will soon be opening their new location within Paul Revere's original copper rolling mill on the site.
A pictorial timeline was on display highlighting notable events and people in the Chamber's history. A video loop was played that also chronicled the Chamber's history and featured interviews with current and past leaders of the organization.
All of this while guests enjoyed music from the Canton High School Jazz Combo.
There are many people to thank after an event such as this. Namely our 125th Anniversary Planning Committee, our sponsors, the Paul Revere Heritage Commission, Northern Spy Restaraunt, the Town of Canton, Norwood Video, Matt McKee Photography, Rob Peters Entertainment and the Canton High School Music Department.
To view our program and all of our sponsors, click here.
On behalf the Chamber board and staff, thanks to all who made the evening so special.
President and CEO
The Neponset River Regional Chamber was recently approved to join the AARP Network of Age-Friendly States and Communities
and the World Health Organization Global Network of Age-Friendly Cities and Communities.
Wow, what does that mean? Basically, we will be leading an effort to empower each of the communities in our region to achieve recognition as an "Age Friendly Community". As our population ages, there are a number of ways that communities and businesses can adapt their way of doing things to accommodate an older population.
The Chamber's Elder Care Alliance has recognized that it has a unique opportunity to positively impact the communities where its members both live and work. The Alliance, has for a decade provided information and education on aging, and access to supports and services, including their recently completed "Aging with Dignity" video series.
The Town of Norwood has agreed to partner with the Chamber as the first community to move forward on this initiative (Dedham and Stoughton have already become "Age Friendly" on their own). Over time, with help from the members of the Elder Care Alliance, we hope to include all of our towns.
In the coming months the Chamber will engage with various stakeholders within the town of Norwood and local businesses to begin identifying the best ways to address the 8 areas of focus that define an age-friendly community as outlined by AARP.
The Chamber sees this opportunity as the next step in changing the landscape, and to provide a level of connection between the business community, municipal leaders and older adults that has not yet been developed.
We are excited by the possibilities with our communities and members to advance the overall livability and health of our communities. To our knowledge we are the first Chamber in the country to lead such an effort.
To learn more or to find out how you can participate, contact Elder Care Alliance chairperson, Sheryl Leary or myself .
President and CEO
The NRRC is growing and we need your help. As a member, you know the value of a strong Chamber to serve as the voice of business and to provide a network through which you can grow your business.
We are asking chamber members to reach out to their non-member colleagues and business associates and invite them learn about the benefits of membership.
Please bring a non-member business to our informational breakfast on June 14 where they can learn about the benefits of membership.
There is no obligation to join, however a number of incentives will offered to those that choose to join.
If you bring a prospect and they join you will receive $125 in Chamber Bucks!
Light breakfast and coffee will be available.
FREE admission for members bringing a non-member.
Thank you for helping our Chamber grow into our next 125 years.
President and CEO
The Neponset River Regional Chamber, along with more than a dozen other employer groups and their members will converge on Beacon Hill this Thursday.
Last year at Small Business Day, business owners from across Massachusetts sent a strong message to Beacon Hill legislators that their concerns matter too.
Once again, many of the state’s leading business organizations and chambers of commerce will gather to help educate policymakers on the issues most important to your small business.
The session will include briefing panels featuring experts on topics including Restrictive Scheduling, Teen/Training Wage, Energy Costs, Paid Family & Medical Leave, Transportation Infrastructure Funding and Controlling Small Business Health Costs.
The Keynote Speaker for the day is Senate President Karen E. Spilka. Several other legislators will also be in attendance.
Too often the voice of business goes unheard on Beacon Hill as so many business owners are at work running their companies. It is important for all businesses that one day a year we are able to magnify the voice of the business community to ensure that our elected leaders understand how their decisions impact business and what the ramifications of those decisions can look like in the real world.
President and CEO
The Neponset River Regional Chamber, along with over 100 other business, community, political and civic leaders from across the Commonwealth signed a letter delivered to Governor Baker, Senate President Spilka and House Speaker DeLeo recently calling for a legislative solution on school funding that includes measures that will close achievement, opportunity and skills gaps.
The letter came in advance of a Joint Committee on Education hearing at the state house last month where legislators heard testimony on several bills that have been filed dealing with school funding.
“Simply putting more money into a system that is failing far too many young people would be reckless,” said Edward Lambert, Jr., Executive Director of the Massachusetts Business Alliance for Education, one of the lead organizations behind the letter and a partner of the Chamber. “Crossing our fingers and hoping to get better results is not a strategy. We’re hearing from folks all across the state who want to ensure that new funding closes achievement and skills gaps and who agree money alone won’t accomplish those goals.”
The letter calls for new funding to be used effectively and efficiently stating that “Experience, research, and practice-based evidence (including evidence from bright spots of success in our state) have shown that just putting more money into the system – even when expressly for the purpose of addressing achievement gaps – does not get us improved outcomes.”
Read the full letter.
I hope by now that you have had a chance to check out our new website . We unveiled it at our 125th Annual Meeting at the end of January.
There are a number of new and exciting features about the site, so I hope you will take a moment to browse through it. I would like to point out two particular features today: the Job Bank and the Coupon center.
For many years we have had members ask us if there was a way to post job openings on our website. Well now there is! Any member can go from our homepage to the "Membership" scroll down tab and click on "Job Bank" . Simply select the option "I am an Employer" and you will be directed to a page where you can quickly and easily add your job postings. You will need to login to the website. If you need your login credentials, simply contact Denise Flynne in our office.
Best of all, there is no cost to post your positions, its included in your membership!
The second feature is not new, but has been enhanced. Members wishing to offer discounts or special deals to other members, the public or both can do so easily on the website. Again, go from the homepage to the "Membership" scroll down tab and then click "Coupons" . From there you can click to submit your own coupons. Your offer can be limited to members only or members and the general public, or two separate offerings for members and others. You can add your logo and have the coupon link to your own website. You can also choose how long to keep the coupon active.
People wishing to access the coupons can print them from the website and show them when making a purchase.
We always encourage members to do business with other members and by using the Coupon feature, you can make that even more attractive to do.
Give them both a try!
President and CEO