Slack CEOs fail to take serious view of security

Employers’ groups have admitted that many chief executives are not taking responsibility for the security of their staff and are urging them to do so immediately.

The commissioner of the City of London Police has estimated only 50% of the City’s businesses have adequate plans for dealing with terrorist attacks because there is a lack of drive from the top.

“[Staff reassurance and management] should be sitting fairly and squarely on the desk of CEOs,” said commissioner John Hart. “It is terribly difficult to get CEOs, chief operating officers and managing partners to embrace this sort of thing.”

Richard Wilson, head of business policy at the Institute of Directors (IoD), said the statistics reflected recent IoD research and urged top figures in business to do more to ensure staff safety.

He said employees had two fundamental rights: the right to a competent commander and the right to work in a healthy and safe environment.

These are issues that some CEOs have to reacquaint themselves with, he said, despite renewed attention following the London bombings on 7 July.

Wilson also warned that interest in these issues could fade if there were no more terrorist attacks. “At the moment it will be something high on the agendas of [executives], but if things go quiet I fear it will drop down their list of priorities,” Wilson said.

Rachel Goodison, director of security at business campaign group London First, said the matter was often dealt with by security and facilities managers and it was difficult for details of contingency plans to make it up the chain of command.

This makes it essential to have someone right at the top to drive the issue, she said.

“A lot of businesses think security is all about building up security systems – and since the millennium bug it has been all about IT,” she said.

“But one of the main concerns [on 7 July] was getting hold of staff. It was a big wake-up call.”

What can HR do to minimise the impact of a security threat?

  • Make sure everyone knows staff are the key concern
  • Have all staff contact details including mobiles
  • Know how best to contact staff
  • Consider how you are going to track staff down if the mobile network fails
  • Make sure staff have a number they can call to get information
  • Give staff constant updates even if the situation hasn’t changed.

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