Posts Tagged ‘ risk ’

Locate the Nearest Exit: Corporate Responsibility Lessons from a Frequent Flyer

This is the second in our lighthearted series of Corporate Responsibility Lessons from a Frequent Flyer.  For our first post in this series, Don’t Leave Your Baggage Unattended, click here.

The onboard pre-flight safety demonstration is all about what to do when things go wrong.  It explains the safety features of the aircraft, and how to use them properly.  It describes how to exit the aircraft in case of emergency.  It reviews the rules established to ensure passenger safety.  And it refers to the safety information card available to each passenger.  Finally, passengers are invited to share questions or concerns with the flight attendants.  The briefing includes mandatory elements standardized by the International Civil Aviation Organization, and has changed over time to incorporate new elements shown by experience to be necessary.

In these respects, the pre-flight safety demonstration is a model for organizational crisis management.  The briefing provides a clear framework for action by the stakeholder – the passenger, in this case – in the event of an emergency.  It engages the stakeholder directly, articulating their role in crisis response.  It identifies reference material and sources of additional information, if required.  And the briefing is customized to reflect specific risks – flights over water, for instance, warrant additional safety measures – and updated to clarify new or revised procedures.

To the extent passengers are paying attention, the pre-flight safety demonstration can minimize the likelihood of injury and maximize the likelihood of survival in a real emergency.  Similarly, the chances of surviving a corporate crisis, like any other, are greatly increased when the organization understands the risks, has plans and procedures in place to enable efficient and effective action if a crisis occurs, and maintains a state of readiness – through training, exercises, and upkeep – to increase the likelihood of desirable outcomes.

Effective crisis management is an important element of corporate responsibility because it enables the organization to anticipate and better manage potential impacts of a crisis with the aim of protecting the health and safety of employees and the public, the environment, and property, including public and private property and the assets of the organization.  The better able an organization is to respond to a crisis in a timely and credible manner, consistent with its vision and values and responsive to the needs of its stakeholders, the more resilient it will be through times of trouble.

On an airplane, the nearest exit is often not the door through which you came in.  Similarly, the way out of a crisis is often not the way you arrived.  Just as the floor-mounted lighting system in an aircraft will guide you to the nearest exit, an effective crisis management plan will guide the organization through turbulence to a safe landing.

 

For fun, click below to enjoy Air New Zealand’s pre-flight safety video featuring Richard Simmons, ‘Fit to Fly’.

 

You might also like this rap safety briefing on South West Airlines.

Too Little for Too Long

At the end of September, the Institute of International Finance held its annual meeting in Washington.  The IIF is a global association of financial institutions, whose mission is to “support the financial industry in prudently managing risks, including sovereign risk; in developing best practices and standards; and in advocating regulatory, financial, and economic policies that are in the broad interest of [its] members and foster global financial stability.”

Prominent on the agenda was international financial regulatory reform, over which considerable debate is ongoing. On the one hand, the G20 plan tougher financial regulatory requirements.  The IIF, on the other hand, while acknowledging the need for reform, calls for a cautious approach, arguing that stricter rules could compromise a fragile economic recovery.  In his speech to the IIF’s annual meeting, Bank of Canada Governor Mark Carney was critical of the IFF’s position, in part because it fails to assume any economic benefit from reducing the risk of future financial crises and because banks already have until 2019 to adapt to the changes. The contrasting viewpoints are summarized succinctly in this Globe and Mail article by Kevin Carmichael, titled “Carney, Waugh spar over new banking rules” (September 26, 2011).

Bank of Canada Governor Mark Carney

What jumped out at me from Mr. Carney’s remarks is this gem of a quote:  “If some institutions feel pressure today, it is because they have done too little for too long, rather than because they are being asked to do too much, too soon.

This statement reflects the reality that increasing demands for transparency, accountability, ethical behaviour, and consideration of non-financial material issues (like environmental, social, and governance issues) have been apparent for some time, and there is diminishing justification – and tolerance – for delayed action.  This is relevant not only to financial institutions, but to other corporate sectors as well.

The pressure to which Mr. Carney alluded will only increase with prolonged inaction, as the gap between corporate behaviour and performance and emerging stakeholder expectations and regulatory requirements continues to grow.

 

Click here for Governor Mark Carney’s full remarks to the IIF.

Click here to link to the IIF’s paper, “The Cumulative Impact on the Global Economy of Changes in the Financial Regulatory Framework” (September 2011).

Click here to link to the IIF’s latest paper on cumulative economic impact of regulatory reform, addressing revisions (October 2011).

Advice for the Shoestring Practitioner: Sustainability Mapping

Are you a Shoestring Practitioner?  A Shoestring Practitioner is someone with a passion for doing good, for doing the right thing, for doing things better, but who is working on a shoestring:  constrained in his or her efforts by a lack of resources, such as staff, time, money, or organizational support.  This post is intended for the Shoestring Practitioner, especially one who is at or near the beginning of a sustainability journey in their organization, but may also be helpful to others trying to advance a corporate responsibility (CR) strategy.  I prepared this post in response to questions received through my network about how to engage employees in CR planning.

In an earlier post [Should sustainability have a seat in the C-suite? December 1, 2010], I talked about the need to develop a fulsome understanding of the sustainability landscape in order to guide decisions about corporate responsibility (CR) strategy.  A comprehensive and well-founded CR strategy will be informed by current and future business drivers pertinent to sustainability, including evolving regulatory frameworks, changing stakeholder expectations (including, but by no means limited to customers), emerging standards and best practice, pressing risks and opportunities, and the organization’s own capacities and competitive positioning.  It must also consider, especially in a complex, diverse organization, the range of perspectives and opinions, the differences in awareness and understanding about CR and sustainability issues that may exist among the employees who will eventually be responsible for implementing a CR strategy, as well as among other key stakeholder groups.

A key component of sustainability mapping is stakeholder engagement, particularly internal employee engagement.  Employees can provide unique insight into current and emerging challenges and opportunities, shed light on existing organizational strengths and weaknesses, and highlight areas where CR and sustainability programming could advance strategic business goals.  Moreover, early employee engagement around CR and sustainability issues increases the relevance of strategies developed in response to their input and the likelihood of later buy-in and support.

While sustainability mapping can be a significant undertaking, especially in a large organization, employee engagement is something the Shoestring Practitioner often can tackle on their own, with limited resources.  Click here to learn how…

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