NATO in Chicago – Ten Steps to Protect Your Business

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NATO in Chicago – Ten Steps to Protect Your Business

 

Business Continuity

By Sarah Jansen, Vice President, Business Continuity & Risk at Envestnet Asset Management, Guest Contributor

Ms. Jansen and Firestorm will host a no-fee webinar as a companion to this article on April 26th, 2012 at 2-3 PM Eastern: MAJOR CITY EVENTS, Social Media and Business Continuity – Ten Steps to Preparation
 
  
With G8 taking place outside Chicago and The 2012 NATO Summit scheduled for Sunday May 20th and Monday May 21st in Chicago there is a sense of relief in many businesses across the city; there will be fewer disturbances, fewer protesters, fewer road blocks and generally less people in the city. But does it?

NATO includes most all G8 leaders and makes up a larger number of dignitaries. Protest groups such as the Occupy Movement have communicated their intention to continue protests in Chicago.  City officials have reported that very little has changed in their planning; the Secret Service will continue to be responsible for security and the FBI will be responsible for law enforcement.

Chicago Consulates and the hotels hosting dignitary are primarily located along Michigan Avenue from Oak Street to Roosevelt Road and streets immediately surrounding. City of Chicago businesses and residents will experience heightened security surrounding McCormick Center in the south loop where meetings will take place, the locations of consulates and likely protest locations including Daly Center and residential neighborhoods. Keep in mind that rolling barricades are planned throughout the city for the fifty heads of states and their foreign and defense ministers, families and aids.

Advanced preparation and communication are key for all Chicago businesses so that employees and customers know what to expect and are prepared to use alternatives and meet business requirements.

As the leader of Enterprise Business Continuity in a large asset management company headquartered in the Chicago loop, I have begun preparations for employee safety and business resiliency. I’ve based my planning on the successful preparations carried out while I worked in close proximity to the 2005 G8 Summit location in Scotland and fully expect the preparations below to lead me through another successful, business resilient encounter with world summits.

Preparation and communication remain key for all Chicago businesses. It is important that all businesses consider specific risks and responses
 
 
 
  
 
Below are the ten steps to protecting and preparing your business ahead of the 2012 NATO Summit:

1. Ensure you have an updated Emergency Plan

Number one, you can’t ensure employee safety with an outdated emergency plan. Ensure your evacuation procedures, building contacts and emergency team are all in place. If you haven’t tested in the past year, now is the time.

2. Update your Pandemic Plan to an Employee Unavailability Plan

The Employee Unavailability Plan is essentially a Pandemic Plan; it defines Response Stages and triggers for a pandemic scenario impacting your company but it also includes planning for all events that could potentially disrupt employee availability including political disturbances and protests. What are the basic levels of preparations required for your business? What will your company do in a high alert issued by the local government?

At what stage will you:

• Restrict visitors to your office?

• Allow remote working?

• Close your office due to safety concerns?

• How will you handle PTO in your business critical departments?

3. Health & Safety Considerations

Special considerations must be made for government, finance, religious and politically affiliated firms. Are your employees a target of protests and does your company have an official political position? If the answer is yes, it is possible for protests to target your business and employees.

• Allowing “dress down” days during The Summit will reduce risks to corporate employees.

•Employees who commute through protest areas should consider alternative routes, limit walking in areas surrounding protests and be prepared to work remotely.

• Ensure planned visitors are communicated to in advance and alternatives provided such as rescheduling and video conferencing.

• Do you have a large number of employees leaving your office at the same time? Staggering finish times will limit any attention drawn on corporate employees.

4. Resiliency for Critical Business

How will your business ensure critical functions continue in order to meet regulatory, legal and contractual requirements? It is likely if you are reading this article you have a regularly reviewed and tested Business Continuity Plan and recovery strategy.  What impact will your company face if it cannot meet daily requirements because of street closures and protests? How will this impact your reputation with your customers?

All critical business departments should review and update recovery plans for key responsibilities, critical tools and resources and alternatives available for recovery.

5. Testing & Training

Now is the time to ensure that new staff is trained in BCP processes and existing staff are reminded of plan locations and roles. If plans haven’t been tested recently, schedule a walk-through or better yet schedule remote testing for all staff.  Does your company cross train staff in critical functions? Call trees should be updated before The Summit in addition to at least annual testing.

6. Technology & Information Security

Technology and security risk is heightened for government, finance, religious and politically affiliated firms.

• Ensure all staff is aware of escalation and communication procedures.

• Alert employees to be aware of suspicious activity on your network.

• Increase monitoring of your firewall intrusion systems and of course ensure your DR Plans for recovery are up to date.

7. Communication

Employee, vendor and client communication policy is the first step to preparedness. Specific considerations include:

• Template communications should be reviewed, updated and approved for use in advance.

• Provide advance notice to employees on the event, company policy and safety preparation.

•Ensure your call tree is updated immediately prior to The Summit.

•Remind employees how to report and escalate concerns and issues for both inside and outside business hours.

How will your company handle questions from customers?

• Provide staff with pre-approved messages for clients.

8. Social Media

Social media is an emerging threat for all businesses. Earlier this year the SEC issued a risk alert recognizing that firms are using social media at an increasing rate for all types of communications. The SEC advises that companies evaluate how their employees use social media in an effort to draft specific guidelines and advises to monitor the guidelines set out.

• Is your company aware of and in control of all social media about your company?

• Is key word and key phrase monitoring in place by social media policy owners?

• Communication to employees on appropriate use of verbal and written communication is a key component to city disruption preparation.

• Employees should be reminded to not speak to media representatives or be a part of media by posting information on protests and your company response.

• Provide employees with the contact details of your media spokesperson and encourage employees to report issues.

9. Management Awareness

Discussions of all points should take place at Senior Management and if applicable your Risk Committee.

10. Building Management & Local Businesses Preparedness

It is important to understand the policies and preparations of your Building Management and if applicable neighboring companies.

• Does building management have up to date emergency contacts?

• How will the building communicate issues to your company?

• Will the building close to the public? What will trigger out of hours procedures? Increased security?

• If your business and building accepts visitors are there alternative processes you must follow?

Federal government and many politically affiliated companies based in Chicago have announced that they are prepared to close offices and evoke their Business Continuity Plans to work remotely.  Are you ready?

 

 


Sarah Jansen is Vice President, Business Continuity & Risk at Envestnet Asset Management headquartered in Chicago and serves as the enterprise leader of Business Continuity, Disaster Recovery and Enterprise Risk at Envestnet.

Sarah has 8 years experience in Business Continuity and Risk Management within investments, corporate banking and private equity sectors in the US, Europe and India.

Ms. Jansen and Firestorm will host a no-fee webinar as a companion to this article on April 26th, 2012 at 2-3 PM Eastern: MAJOR CITY EVENTS, Social Media and Business Continuity – Ten Steps to Preparation

 

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