Corporate pandemic precaution advocacy: The time is now

first_img(CIDRAP Source Weekly Briefing) – Business continuity planners say they’re talking to their employees and other stakeholders about pandemic preparedness. Is it really happening?At the start of CIDRAP’s February 2007 Business Preparedness for Pandemic Influenza: Second National Summit in Orlando, 45% of attendees said communication was the most important preparedness priority for their company “beyond health and safety.” That ranked it No. 1. By the end of the conference, communication was No.1 by an even wider margin—67%.I asked participants which of two kinds of communication took precedence. One priority is a standby crisis communication plan—developed now so you’re ready to roll if and when a pandemic materializes. The other priority is a pandemic precaution advocacy rollout—actual communications, now, aimed at alerting employees and others to the risk, telling them what the company is doing, and urging them to get ready. The pandemic precaution advocacy rollout eked out a narrow victory, 32% to 30%, with 38% saying the two were equally important. These are the answers I wanted to hear, but I don’t trust that they reflect what’s really happening.Just about every time I’m invited to give a speech or run a workshop on pandemic communication, I ask my client whether I should focus mostly on crisis communication (“when the virus hits the fan”) or precaution advocacy (“getting ready together”). The usual choice is crisis communication. I have to argue hard for some attention to the prepandemic communication task of sounding the alarm.When I have a chance to run a workshop that covers both, I have learned the hard way to start with crisis communication. If the group works on precaution advocacy first, the messages it comes up with tend to be awfully mild—largely because participants haven’t imagined their way into a serious pandemic yet. Working first on crisis communication gives people a sense of the horrific messages they would have to deliver in the middle of a catastrophic pandemic. That sets a very different context for the second half of the program: “What can we say to people beforehand to help prepare for the exercise we just went through?”Good pandemic precaution advocacy now, in other words, can make pandemic crisis communication later a less impossible task. Not much of it seems to be happening yet from companies.What’s happening, what’s notIn fairness, some pandemic precaution advocacy is happening for some stakeholders. In particular, many companies are talking to their suppliers about pandemic preparedness—mostly in search of promises (unenforceable though they may be) to keep the supply chain filled no matter what. I hope the dialogue will move to a more realistic level, something like this: “We can manage without X and Y if we have to. What can we do together to make you likelier to be able to keep us supplied with Z?” But at least a dialogue is happening.Companies are less interested in initiating pandemic conversations with customers. I assume this is because companies don’t have good news for customers and are in no hurry to offer up bad news. “Don’t expect us to be able to meet your needs” isn’t a fun message to deliver. But in many cases, these crucial conversations are happening anyway, initiated by the customers.So far I have seen virtually no pandemic communication between companies and their shareholders. But the investor community may finally have pandemic risk on its radar screen. For a while, articles speculating on the likely economic impact of a severe pandemic became commonplace. As the lead sidebar article in this issue points out, the business press has lost interest in the pandemic story, at least for the moment. We can only hope that investors got the message already, and will start asking companies how prepared they are. The sooner the better.At the Orlando conference, Michael Evangelides, principal of Deloitte Consulting, LLP, presented data showing that CFOs were a lot less interested in pandemic preparedness than were continuity managers. That would change fast if huge pension funds started asking hard questions. Imagine how companies might respond, for example, if they got a letter from the California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS) indicating that CalPERS was planning to screen its investments for pandemic preparedness.Corporate pandemic communication aimed at neighbors or the general public still seems to be extremely rare. In fact, business leaders have been shockingly silent in the general-interest media about pandemic risk. Thanks to Google News, I am able to read a lot of media stories (local as well as national and international) about pandemic risk. The main sources are usually health officials, politicians, or academics, not companies. The companies that manufacture antivirals are an obvious exception, and I’ve seen other exceptions—articles on the preparedness efforts of the grocery, telecommunications, and banking industries, among others. But finding examples of corporate CEOs speaking out on pandemic preparedness is hard.In late 2006, the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard University sponsored a 3-day conference on pandemic news coverage. I asked a lot of participants what they were writing about business preparedness. “Not much,” reporter after reporter told me. “It’s hard to find a company willing to say anything on the record about its pandemic planning.”Are you talking to employees yet?The single most important audience for corporate pandemic precaution advocacy is, of course, employees. Are companies actually talking to their employees about pandemic preparedness?I don’t mean vague assurances that employees should “rest assured that your company is doing everything possible to be fully prepared in the unlikely event of a bird flu pandemic.” I’ve seen some of those. I mean detailed, vivid communications that aim at three key goals:Briefing employees on company preparedness effortsInvolving employees in those effortsPersuading employees to launch their own preparedness efforts at home and in the communityI haven’t seen many corporate efforts to achieve these three goals.Judging from my clients, getting top management’s okay to talk frankly with employees about pandemics is an uphill battle. I hear two basic reasons for not doing so:”We’re not ready yet”—As if it made sense to wait till your corporate pandemic planning were nearly done before asking employees to get involved, and before urging them to do some planning of their own.”We don’t want to unduly frighten people”—As if the looming possibility of a severe pandemic weren’t “duly” frightening . . . and as if it were more important to keep employees unconcerned than to get them prepared.There’s a better rationale for not communicating right now: “Employees aren’t interested in pandemics. Until they are, there’s not much point in trying to talk to them.” This is, of course, the exact opposite of the we-don’t-want-to-frighten-them rationale; it suggests waiting for a teachable moment when frightening your employees will be more feasible. If your company already has its pandemic employee precaution advocacy messaging done and you’re just waiting till employees are in a mood to listen, okay. Don’t wait too long.But I’d bet my mortgage that’s not what’s happening. If anything, companies will be even less willing to talk candidly and frighteningly about pandemics when their employees are already buzzing with pandemic anxiety.Go ahead, get startedSo what are companies really waiting for? I’m afraid they’re waiting for a pandemic. The votes at CIDRAP’s Orlando conference notwithstanding, it seems to me that most companies have not yet made communication a priority in their pandemic preparedness work. In particular, they have not yet done much employee pandemic precaution advocacy.It’s time to get started.An internationally renowned expert in risk communication and crisis communication, Peter Sandman speaks and consults widely on communication aspects of pandemic preparedness. Dr. Sandman, Deputy Editor, contributes an original column to CIDRAP Source Weekly Briefing every other week. Most of his risk communication writing is available without charge at the Peter Sandman Risk Communication Web Site, which includes an index of pandemic-related writing on the site.last_img read more

The renovated complex of Dubrovnik Lazarets has opened its doors

first_imgAs part of the final conference of the project “Lazareti – the creative district of Dubrovnik”, on Sunday, July 28, the grand opening of the renovated historic complex Lazareti was organized. Now, after a thorough renovation, Lazareti has received a new life cycle through the valorization of cultural heritage as a place of cultural and tourist facilities. Mihaela Skurić, director of the Institute for Reconstruction of Dubrovnik, the main partner in the project, emphasized that this is the first project of the City of Dubrovnik in which funds from European funds are invested in the restoration of cultural heritage and giving new function and purpose, ie life to heritage. local communities.  The Lazareta complex, located right next to the city walls in Ploče, the eastern entrance to the historic center, in the past served as a quarantine (French quarantine: forty days), an international anti-infective measure that separates and controls people, goods and means of transport (ships) they are suspected to come from infected areas. In Dubrovnik, as early as 1377, the Grand Council issued a provision according to which newcomers from plague areas had to spend a month in certain supervised locations before they were allowed to enter the city. Although there have been several quarantines in Dubrovnik throughout history, Lazareti (whose construction was completed in 1647) was the largest commercial transit center on the Adriatic and one of the best organized quarantines in the Mediterranean in the 17th century. In the past, the eastern suburb of Ploče was a meeting place for trade caravans and travelers from the Ottoman Empire. Therefore, as early as 1377, the first quarantine for the isolation of passengers and goods from eastern countries was built in Ploče, because epidemics of infectious diseases often prevailed.  The infirmaries, with 8 preserved buildings and 5 courtyards, were renovated in 1623 from the sea side so that larger ships could approach. They had spacious warehouses for goods and livestock, and rooms for longer stays of merchants and travelers in isolation. In the 17th century, Dubrovnik’s Lazareti was the largest commercial transit center on the Adriatic and one of the best organized quarantines in the Mediterranean.  The project is worth HRK 33,8 million, of which as much as HRK 25,9 million was provided from European Union grants through the European Regional Development Fund. HRK 21.078 was spent on the renovation of three previously unrestored ships, while other funds were intended for equipping seven ships that have already been renovated, as well as for developing and designing cultural programs and facilities. As the future cultural center of Dubrovnik, Lazareti fully fit into the vision of sustainable destination management and through the valorization of cultural heritage sites and the expansion of cultural and tourist facilities is expected to make a major contribution to sustainable development at the local and regional level. In addition to the City of Dubrovnik, ten other partners participated in the project – the Institute for the Reconstruction of Dubrovnik, DURA, the Dubrovnik Tourist Board, the Linđo Folklore Ensemble, the Lazareti ART Workshop, the Lero Student Theater, the DEŠA Association, the DEŠA Social Enterprise and the Dart Association, and Art Sebastian Design. “The opening of the Lazaret is seemingly a small step for our city, but it is extremely important and full of symbolism. It is the year 2019 of culture, when we celebrate many anniversaries and we can finally say – Lazareti are over. We know how and in what way to take care of our historical heritage, we have EU funds at our disposal and we have just shown that we know how to use them, that we know how to manage EU money and invest it in what is important, and that is caring for our heritage. It is up to us to move on”, Said Mayor Mato Franković at the opening of the Lazaret. Source / photo: City of Dubrovniklast_img read more

Industry Bodies Unite to Tackle Shipping’s CO2 Emissions

first_imgFour major international trade associations have made a joint proposal to the UN International Maritime Organization (IMO) concerning ambitious CO2 reductions by the international shipping sector.In a detailed submission, BIMCO, INTERCARGO, International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) and INTERTANKO proposed that IMO Member States should immediately adopt two “aspirational objectives” on behalf of the international shipping sector.These include maintaining international shipping’s annual total CO2 emissions below 2008 levels, and reducing CO2 emissions per tonne of cargo transported one kilometre, as an average across international shipping, by at least 50% by 2050, compared to 2008.In addition, the industry associations have suggested that IMO “should give consideration to another possible objective of reducing international shipping’s total annual CO2 emissions,” by an agreed percentage by 2050 compared to 2008, as a point on a continuing trajectory of further CO2 emissions reduction.The shipping sector, which is responsible for transporting about 90% of global trade, accounts for 2.2% of the world’s annual man-made CO2 emissions.The IMO Marine Environment Protection Committee will meet in London this July to begin the development of a strategy for the reduction of the sector’s CO2 emissions aligning the international shipping sector response to the 2015 Paris Agreement’s call for ambitious contributions to combat climate change.last_img read more

Softball: Badgers sweep double-header with two mercies

first_imgWisconsin softball hosted the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay Phoenix for a double-header during a chilly afternoon Tuesday, but the weather did not seem to affect the Badgers.Wisconsin’s (26-19-1) bats came alive as the team dominated both games 8-0, thanks to a strong performance at the mound from pitcher Taylor-Paige Stewart and situational hitting.The Badgers were held in check for the majority of the first game, only leading 2-0 going into the bottom half of the fifth inning. But the team would go on to score six in the final two innings, invoking the mercy rule for an early end to the game.Wisconsin expanded on their two-run lead thanks to an RBI single by Ashley Van Zeeland in the fifth and a sacrifice fly by Melanie Cross increased their lead to 4-0.Sara Novak sunk the dagger in the sixth when an RBI single and an error allowed another score, putting the Badgers up by six. Wisconsin would add two more in the frame to get the final score of 8-0.Stewart, who received the win in both contests and improved to 15-10 on the year, was on cruise control for both games. The senior allowed only one hit in each game while striking out nine in the first of the twin bill, tying her season high. Stewart added another five punch-outs in game two and again allowed only one unearned run in her three innings pitched.With an ample amount of run support in both games, Stewart said games like these ease the pressure when pitching.“The atmosphere of our dugout changes and the stress on the mound definitely decreases when you know your offense is lighting it up,” Stewart said.The Badgers picked up right where they left off in game two by getting to Phoenix pitcher Katie Rossman early in the bottom of the first. Both Kelsey Jenkins and Van Zeeland reached base, and were followed by Chloe Miller’s three-run blast to right — all before Green Bay recorded an out.“[Hitting a home run] always feels good,” Miller said. “It happens in practice, but until you get it in the game, there’s nothing like seeing your team when you cross home plate.”Wisconsin continued to pile on hits and runs in the following two innings.In the second, Jenkins ripped an RBI-double down the left field line and followed with a third inning that saw Katie Christner hit a line-drive home run down the left field line, which got out in a hurry to give the Badgers a 5-0 lead. Wisconsin chased Rossman in the same inning while tacking on three more runs and would hold their eight-run lead to the end of the fifth to again force the mercy rule.Coming into the day’s double-header, Wisconsin owned a 4-6-1 record at home, but head coach Yvette Healy said wins like these are what her team needed as they try to qualify for the Big Ten Tournament in two weeks.“Just to play well on our field is a big deal,” Healy said. “This weekend is another huge weekend and I think these mid-week games give us a little momentum going into it.”The Badgers will welcome the Northwestern Wildcats this weekend for a three-game set and the team’s final home series of the season. First pitch is slated for 3 p.m Friday.last_img read more