While the spread of the Zika virus is hard to grapple with, risk managers can take this opportunity to bring value to the organisations that they work for, advised Mr Steve Tunstall, the General Secretary of the Pan-Asia Risk & Insurance Management Association (PARIMA) and Director of risk consulting firm Tunstall Associates.
Speaking during a PARIMA webinar on the Zika update, Mr Tunstall noted that people would go online to get information during such situations, which may not be in the their best interests, as can be seen from the number of falsehoods and conspiracy theories about the virus on the internet.
Work to allay unnecessary fears
“It’s very important that risk managers work with their teams to allay any unnecessary fears within their organisations – one of the strategies I would look at is how would I engage the human resources and communications teams,” he said.
He added that organisations can show their care and concern by giving employees the right information so that they would be prepared, particularly in firms where there is a lot of business travel. He also cautioned against having an “alarmist” or “knee-jerk response” such as issuing a blanket ban on travel.
Advising on the Zika virus situation, Dr Philippe Guibert, Regional Medical Director, Consulting Services, Asia at International SOS, said there are now about 52 countries with local Zika transmission, with 31 of them in the Americas and Thailand, the only Asian country where it was an ongoing risk with several transmission cases in the past.
Mr Tunstall added: “This is also about getting a broader organisational resilience and to kick off related projects that have been shelved for a while, as well as how to upgrade and revise systems to make sure one is prepared.”
Speed and flexibility
In response to a question on how to ensure that one’s emergency risk management plan is robust, Mr Tunstall said an organisation should look at its speed of communication and response, and whether its systems are flexible enough to cope and adapt quickly to the crisis.
“If you’re used to triggering your crisis management system through your security or crisis management team – check how you can make the process be more open for your senior management …or directors so as to get permission to trigger other parts of the business as it could be a HR or communications issue, or even finance,” he said.
“These are really good questions to ask yourselves now, before your organisation is in crisis.” A recording of the webinar can be viewed at www.parima.org