A study by the National Institute of Standards and Technology and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration shows that historically underrepresented group operated (HUGO) businesses or companies operated by veterans, minorities and women were disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
NIST and NOAA researchers surveyed over 1,350 companies from July to August in 2020 and found that HUGO businesses reported greater negative impacts from COVID-19 alone than non-HUGO companies that experienced natural disasters during the pandemic, NIST said Monday.
“Based on the self-reported responses, we found that businesses belonging to the HUGO group are more likely to experience things like business closure, decreased revenue or decreases in the number of customers,” said Payam Aminpour, a NIST postdoctoral research fellow and co-author of the study.
According to the study, the proportion of HUGO businesses that strongly agreed that the health crisis would leave their organization unable to deal with a natural disaster in the next year was significantly larger statistically than the proportion of non-HUGO companies who did so.
“It is critical that we understand how climate events amplify existing social and economic vulnerabilities,” said Ariela Zycherman, a co-author of the paper at NOAA’s climate program office. “For HUGO populations in particular, research like this demonstrates the ways preexisting social inequities threaten resilience. This information is essential for supporting just climate futures across communities.”
The study was published in the International Journal of Disaster Risk Reduction.