Current world events, such as the Ebola outbreak, ISIS threats, and Super Typhoon Vongfong continue to alter the focus of emergency management. With each pandemic, security crisis, natural disaster, or emergency incident, a renewed emphasis on specific preparedness initiatives and associated countermeasures evolves. Despite site-specific operation hazards, a well-developed response plan should examine all risks and vulnerability factors in order to provide employees with the knowledge, procedures, and resources necessary to respond appropriately to any situation.
When companies expand globally, identifying, evaluating, mitigating, and planning for continually evolving location-specific risks and vulnerabilities is challenging. Those with the responsibility of global preparedness and planning must address site-specific regulatory compliance measures, inherent risks (including operational and location-specific), technological and physical security needs, and each operational response plan component. Cultural disparities, infrastructure challenges, or security provocations may leave sites vulnerable to particular events and heighten the urgency of preparedness initiatives and planning efforts.
Preparedness, operational sustainability, and employee safety requires a streamlined, coordinated, and exercised response plan. Response plans must be developed to account for each potential emergency and non-emergency scenario that could impact or cause damage to a particular facility or its operations. Aside from innate operational hazards, both physical site security and electronic security must be considered in preparedness measures. (Note: A security breach is just as likely to come in the form of a computer hacker or virus as it is from an actual intrusion, uprising, or physical attack.)
While emergency scenarios may affect the safety and health of employees, operations, and/or the facility infrastructure, non-emergency situations can arise that potentially impact company reputation and operational longevity. A poorly managed situation can negatively affect a company’s reputation, business interests, and relationship with key regulators and partners.
Below are some crisis management situations that could affect business continuity for companies with multinational facilities. Business continuity and crisis management plans should be developed for each of these scenarios that could likely cause significant damage to the business.
Environmental Stewardship: Disparity in international, country, state, county and corporate environmental standards. Environmental regulations may vary regarding:
- Facility or site requirements
- Hazardous spills
- Equipment safety
- Fire fighting methods
- Gas releases
Natural Disasters: Each geographic location has specific historical and potential natural threats.
- Sand/wind storms
Employee issues: While every facility must prepared for potential employee issues, global companies must pay specific attention to:
- Cultural differences
- Language barriers
- Labor relations challenges
- Workplace discrimination or harassment
- Disgruntled workers
- Health and safety disparagements
Marketing: Global markets and unethical business practices can create non-emergency scenarios resulting in the need for crisis management:
- Price gouging
- Supply availability
- Deceptive business practices
Security Breach: A security breach can affect multiple aspects of a company, from business continuity to the physical safety of employees.
- Computer hacking
- Catastrophic IT failure
- Facility security measures
- Civil unrest
- Personnel/employee security
Corporate Governance: Corporate changes can initiate unrest, disrupt operations, and company reputation:
- Organizational restructuring
- Facility closings
- Management successions/promotions
- Financial reporting integrity
Industry/Sector Issues: As industry specific equipment, regulatory advancements, and technologies evolve, preparedness should continually adapt to include safety processes, continuity procedures and best practices.
- Supply disruptions
- Punitive regulations
Illegal Activity: Faults in humanity may be intensified by location specific conditions, supply and demand, and/or greed. Preparedness measures should include business continuity and crisis management procedure for the following circumstances:
- Criminal Investigation
Political/Social issues: As companies strive to be profitable, political and social issues can interfere with daily operations. Situations that may affect productivity include, but are not limited to:
- Human rights
- Political or social unrest
- Economic disparity