CIVIL UNREST – IS YOUR BUSINESS AT RISK?
It seems anymore that there are a number of things that may happen in our daily lives that have the potential to create a risk for civil unrest.
In today’s world the trigger points have been with regards to police incidents where someone is injured or killed, and community members, and in some cases people from outside the area begin to peacefully assemble to protest. However, what often starts off as a peaceful gathering can quickly become a dangerous event that may include rioting, looting, arson, and numerous injuries to participants and innocent victims.
With that being said, how can or does this possibly affect your business if it happens in another city or state? Simply put there are numerous examples of how a rally in America’s heartland can result in rioting and looting thousands of miles away.
The question you have to ask yourself is this, if a similar incident were to occur in your city (e.g. controversial death of someone in a police action), is it possible that members of the community, or outsiders, will gather and demand “Justice?”
Before you answer that question think back to the reaction after the LAPD officers were acquitted in the case involving Rodney King. Although that case was in Los Angeles, there were demonstrations held throughout the United States and in some other countries.
Identify and Mitigate Risks
Now back to the question at hand; if you said that it is possible that people could gather and demonstrate in your community, what has your community done to prepare? For that matter, what has your business done to prepare? We have to keep in mind that the police will be stretched thin in most communities if a peaceful gathering turns into a riot, so if your plan is to rely on the police to ensure your safety, and the security of your business, you may be disappointed.
Ask business owners in Ferguson, Missouri, Oakland, California, or Baltimore, Maryland, to name just a few cities if their local police departments were able to protect their businesses. To be blunt, law enforcement did not have the resources to provide security for any private business, it just was not possible.
That being the case what can and should you do to protect your business? First, start with a plan. Develop a security plan that includes things such as emergency numbers and contacts. Look at moving critical assets to a more secure location until such time that the threat of violence has been eliminated. For example, move company records such as tax papers, payroll information, client/customer information, computer records, and anything else that you need to keep your business operating, even if it the physical location of the business is destroyed.
Also ensure that your employees know exactly what to do in the event of any type of civil unrest. For example, do your employees know how to protect themselves and your customers?
In the end it comes down to business continuity as well as the safety and security of your staff and customers. If your entire business is under one roof, and that location is in an area that is at risk of civil unrest, you need to start looking at either moving critical assets to a safer location, or ensuring that you have backup records and all of the required infrastructure to get your business up and running somewhere else if it comes to that.
Oh, and for those that originally said they were not at risk, I hope you are right. But either way you should consider business continuity all the same just in case.