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Risk in Context

Terrorist Attacks in Paris Highlight Importance of Corporate Preparedness

Posted by Chandra Seymour 14 November 2015

Soon after word of the horrific terrorist attacks in Paris circulated, hundreds of global companies began a search for employees potentially in harm’s way. As France remains under a nationwide state of emergency and much of Paris’ business infrastructure closed, companies are contacting staff permanently in country, employees on temporary assignment, staff in transit, even those known to be vacationing there.

As with other disasters, the attacks are a harsh reminder of the ever-present threat of mass violence and the importance of developing, maintaining, and exercising corporate-level crisis management, emergency response, and business continuity plans.

Companies with such plans in place can better help employees through a crisis — be it a terrorist attack or a natural disaster:

  • Crisis management: You will be well-served by an overall framework for management, response, and recovery. After an attack, organisations need to move quickly and efficiently to understand the potential impacts to people, property, and operations, and make policy/strategy decisions to address and manage those impacts.
  • Crisis communications: You may potentially have to reach out to employees, customers, investors, and others. During a crisis, it is critical that your company’s messages and communications are linked to reinforce the overall strategies and decisions made by the crisis management team.
  • Emergency response: The tactical process designed to respond to physical incidents is critical if your company or employees are near the scene of the event. Life safety, event mitigation, and the protection of physical assets are all involved. You may need to evacuate and be able to fully account for all employees.
  • Humanitarian assistance: The provision of support during and after an incident should include physical, social, emotional, and financial help, as needed. Making professional counselling and support services available is just one example of how you can support employees.
  • Business continuity: Keeping the business running is, of course, a key concern once safety issues have been addressed. Plans should account for the management and logistical process for continuing or resuming, and recovering partially or completely interrupted critical business functions. In France, some organisations may need to implement business continuity plans in response to the closing of borders and the Paris lockdown.
  • Information technology/disaster recovery: In a tech-driven age, recovery includes detailed technical plans to ensure the availability of networks, applications, and data. Ensuring that technology is up and running efficiently may help support business continuity, including work-from-home and other strategies.

Nothing can prepare us for the human shock of events such as the Paris attacks. But integrated and well-practiced crisis and continuity plans can prepare you to meet a crisis and help those employees who may need it most.

Related to:  Marsh Risk Consulting

Chandra Seymour

Senior Vice President, MRC Reputational Risk and Crisis Management