Employment policies and corporate responsibility critical for mitigating risk

According to a recent survey conducted by Lockton, 80% of property professionals believe that businesses are ill equipped to cope with a terrorist incident.

The same survey, emerging from a Property Issues Seminar attended by two members of the Metropolitan Police Counter Terrorism Command, showed that 78% feel that insurance cover for terrorism should be mandatory given the current political climate.

Beyond just the damage to property, research shows that many businesses would simply be unable to get back up and running as the necessary continuity procedures are often not in place.

Contingency and disaster recovery plans are areas that Lockton has encouraged businesses to focus on, even more importantly, they say than mandatory covers.

Richard Owen, chief executive of real estate and construction at Lockton, said companies often focus on basic evacuation plans such as fire drills but don’t necessarily have plans in place for where employees will work from if their offices are damaged in an attack or disaster.

Clients need to know that a business can continue operating regardless of the political climate.

According to Owen, palm pilots have been a major stride in allowing the show to go on in the face of disaster by keeping employees in contact with one another and clients.

The problem is for many companies, testing disaster recovery plans can be quite costly. Companies need to be willing to evacuate staff and set them up in alternative offices and risk the consequences this may have on operations.

But some companies have been strategic in their efforts to put plans to the test. Just this week Polaris, which runs imarket, decided to close its office for a couple of days for renovations and at the same time, put its disaster recovery plan in place.

For those who find the testing process to be cost prohibitive, Lockton’s managing director of Real Estate and Construction Steve Bracey said it is imperative for senior managers to be aware of the disaster recovery plan and ensure it is up to date and relevant.

According to another report, recently released by Lloyd’s, insurers and other financial companies must urgently close the gap between awareness of the terrorism risk and what it actually means in practice.

Lloyd’s agrees action plans and information gathering are key to mitigating risk but aside from that, the report says financial institutions can play a role in helping to prevent attacks from ever taken place.

Things such as promoting diversity within the workplace, being responsible stakeholders while operating overseas and displaying appropriate sensitivity to local cultures can all have significant impacts on how the West is viewed by some Islamic societies.

For example, companies should consider whether investments and employment policies can help mitigate risks by helping to foster economic activities in deprived areas of the country where there is a high population of British Muslims.

Muslim graduates typically find it much more difficult to find jobs than their similarly qualified non-Muslim counterparts, the report said.

The report, entitled Home-grown Terrorism: What Does it Mean for Business, said: “No amount of planning will ultimately ever completely eliminate the threat from home-grown terrorism, however, some careful forward planning will help business manage the threat more effectively and will ensure that your business is able to continue operations in the wake of a strike. Such resilience will furthermore strengthen the message that society as a whole rejects the terrorist effort to disrupt and alter our way of life.”