Organisations need to prepare for the possibility of more protests amid rising tensions and COVID lockdown restrictions, argues Renata Elias
Violence across the US this week, as thousands defy curfews to protest over the death of a man in police custody in Minneapolis, are a reminder of how civil unrest can quickly develop and threaten people, property, and communities. Beyond the US, protests against COVID-19 stay-at-home orders have erupted in several countries in recent weeks.
Organisations need to take action, preparing for the possibility of more protests and readying themselves to respond appropriately.
1. Plan in Advance
Organisations should formulate plans of action in the event of civil unrest in areas where they operate and their people live and work. If you do not already have an emergency response plan, it is important to start planning in case a protest affects such an area.
The foremost concern should be for your people — including employees and customers — who could either be confronted by protesters or unable to leave affected locations for extended periods of time. Monitor local law enforcement and government authorities’ communications. Consider temporarily closing potentially affected locations and posting security personnel.
Consider advising employees who can work remotely to do so. At the same time, have plans in place to help on-site employees evacuate or take shelter if necessary.
2. Communicate Effectively
The safety of your people is your top priority, making how you communicate critical during incidents of civil unrest. Consider how you will communicate to key stakeholders, including employees, customers, and news media. Ensure you have updated contact information for employees working at impacted locations and have the tools in place to communicate with them in a timely manner.
3. Safeguard Business Continuity
Business operations may be disrupted if a specific geographic location or key infrastructure affected by a protest becomes temporarily inaccessible. Plan for the possibility of suspending business operations, rerouting or delaying shipments and deliveries, and assigning employees or business functions to other work locations.
4. Consider Insurance Options
Property, workers’ compensation, and general liability coverage could apply if an event becomes violent or destructive and causes damage or injury to your property, employees, or other individuals. Regularly review — including before an event — these and any other applicable insurance policies. Take a close look at limits, sublimits, deductibles, and reporting requirements. In the event a claim must be filed, be ready to provide insurers with:
- A detailed list of extra expenses, including temporary repairs and lost income.
- Evidence of damage, including photos and videos, if available.
- Information about closures or restrictions by civil authorities and others.
Organisations and people in any location can be affected by quick-developing civil unrest and subsequent violence. You may not be able to prevent such unrest, but organisations can prepare for it. Well-planned and tested crisis management, crisis communications, emergency response, and business continuity plans and appropriate insurance coverage, can help you respond in a crisis, protect your people and assets, and more quickly resume normal operations.
Renata Elias is senior consultant, Marsh Risk Consulting Strategic Risk Practice