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

Some regional leaders to allow mass Idul Fitri prayers despite calls to worship at home

first_imgLumajang regency in East Java has taken a similar approach.”Mass Idul Fitri prayers are allowed as long as worshipers implement health protocols to prevent the spread of COVID-19,” Lumajang Regent Thoriqul Haq said in a statement on Tuesday as reported by Antara News Agency.Thoriq said his administration had issued a circular to mosques throughout the regency containing guidelines for the performance of prayers.Several other regions that have not reported any confirmed cases of COVID-19 such as North Gorontalo regency in Gorontalo and Natuna Regency in Riau Islands will also allow residents to perform mass Idul Fitri prayers.Univeristy of Indonesia epidemiologist Pandu Riono has said that allowing mass Idul Fitri prayers could create new COVID-19 clusters.”Well, if that’s the decision then whatever. Just brace for new clusters of COVID-19 transmission,” he told kompas.com on Wednesday.Coordinating Legal, Political and Human Rights Minister Mahfud MD said on Tuesday that all forms of mass religious activities were against the Health Ministry’s regulation on large-scale social restrictions (PSBB) and the 2018 Health Quarantine Law.According to the central government’s count, Indonesia had 20,162 confirmed COVID-19 cases with 1,278 fatalities as of Thursday. (nal)Topics : Some regional leaders are set to allow residents to perform mass Idul Fitri prayers despite the central government’s announcement that such gatherings were against prevailing public health laws during the COVID-19 outbreak.The Bekasi city administration in West Java, for example, has announced that it will allow 38 districts to hold mass Idul Fitri prayers, saying the districts are categorized as “green zones”, meaning they have a relatively low number of COVID-19 cases.The West Java provincial administration, however, has classified the city of Bekasi as a “red zone”, meaning that it is a high-risk area for COVID-19 transmission. In West Nusa Tenggara, Bima Mayor Lutfi has also announced that mass prayers are allowed, contradicting Governor Zulkieflimansyah’s decision to ban all forms of congregational prayer during the holiday.”The governor has prohibited mass Idul Fitri prayers, [but] we’ll do it anyway. It’s my decision,” Lutfi said on Wednesday as quoted by kompas.com.Lutfi said that residents had to follow strict health protocols when performing the prayers and that the city administration would deploy officers to oversee the gatherings.”We will only allow mass Idul Fitri prayers in mosques under strict supervision. Residents will not be allowed to shake hands. They are also required to use face masks and maintain safe physical distances,” Lutfi said.last_img read more

Silence is ‘complicity,’ say many white protestors

first_imgAs massive crowds take over streets across the United States in support of black lives, “white silence is violence” has become a recurring theme, a push to spread awareness that discrimination in a country built on racism extends far beyond police brutality.The recent police killing of a black man, George Floyd, in Minneapolis and the protests it triggered have revived long-simmering criticisms over the historic complacency of white Americans towards the systemic racism undergirding their lifestyles.Krista Knight, a playwright who protested this weekend in Manhattan, was among the many demonstrators wielding signs with slogans like “complicity” to indicate their solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement. The movement fueled a growing consciousness and organizing framework for years, building some of the forces necessary to foster the current explosion of protests.And according to Candace McCoy — a criminologist at the City University of New York who has written on protest tactics — “one of the major differences in these protests, compared to others in the past 30 years, is the significant percentage of white people protesting on behalf of equal rights for black people.”She compares this mobilization to the demonstrations for civil rights of the 1960s, in particular the August 28, 1963 “March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom” spearheaded by Martin Luther King Jr.Even Barack Obama has noticed a difference: It’s “a far more representative cross-section of America out on the streets peacefully protesting, who felt moved to do something because of the injustices that they had seen,” the former president said during a recent digital town hall.”There is a change in mindset that’s taking place.” ‘Tipped the balance’ For many young people, protesting was the obvious move.Ross, a 25-year-old musician who has lived in cities including New Orleans, Houston and New York, found it unnerving to see his black friends flinch at the sight of police.It’s vital, he said, to march in the name of equality for “our friends, our neighbors.””It’s not right to let that separation continue.”The marches that have for more than a week blossomed from New York to Los Angeles, including in many small towns and rural areas nationwide, are attracting older generations as well.”I’ve done a lot of marches for other things, but this is the first time I’ve come out” for Black Lives Matter, said Marianne Macrae, 58.”I don’t know why this was the one that tipped the balance,” said the employee of a non-profit that fights poverty, but “I think it’s really important to show my support.””We have to have some reforms… I think this needs to go on and continue, all summer, into the fall, into the election.”Some 49 percent of white Americans now say police are more likely to use excessive force against a black culprit — nearly double the 25 percent who said so in 2016. And 78 percent of all Americans consider the anger triggered by George Floyd’s murder “fully” or “partially” justified.It’s a sensitivity also growing on social media.Meredith Parets, a teacher from Phoenix, Arizona, last week joined a protest and has subscribed to two groups related to the movement on Facebook.One, “White People for Black Lives,” is aimed at helping white people detect and combat insidious forms of racism.”For all my life, when I thought of white supremacy, I thought of neo-Nazis and the KKK,” the 47-year-old said. “I thought, as long as you didn’t choose to be part of it, that you were not a part of it.”She doesn’t consider herself an activist but recently has written to her local politicians demanding a budget for a citizen’s police review board, as well as to her mayor about outlawing police chokeholds.After George Floyd’s death, she said she started “realizing how much of the world is constructed so that white people feel safe all the time.” Topics : It’s the first time the white 36-year-old has marched for the cause, but staying home “is like sending the message that I don’t care.””Silence is indicating complicity,” she said. The Black Lives Matter movement was founded in 2013 in response to the acquittal of the white man who shot dead Trayvon Martin, a 17-year-old black youth, in Florida.Since then, it has grown rapidly worldwide, founding dozens of chapters and organizing disruptions to draw attention to systemic ills — often ignored by white Americans, who are statistically affected the least by such issues — including police brutality, as well as housing, education and healthcare disparities.last_img read more

MSP Alpena Post Encourage Safe Driving Skills for ‘Distracted Awareness Month’

first_imgAddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to FacebookFacebookShare to TwitterTwitterShare to MoreAddThisApril is distracted driving awareness month. MSP is reminding residents to make sure to pay attention when driving.When it comes to accidents many are caused by distracted drivers, that’s why Michigan State Police Alpena Post is reminding everyone to keep their eyes on the road. Trooper Simpson said that most accidents range from drivers talking on the phone to having pets in their laps while driving. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration there were 3,477 people killed in motor vehicle crashes related to distracted drivers.During the day there are 660,000 people using cell phones while driving and that’s why troopers like Simpson on patrol around the area to make sure people are driving safe. When it comes to most of the crashes teens are the largest group reported as a distracted driver, which leads to most fatal accidents.AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to FacebookFacebookShare to TwitterTwitterShare to MoreAddThis Tags: Distracted Driving Awareness, msp, MSP Alpena PostContinue ReadingPrevious Upcoming: Countywide Clean-Up DayNext Pool Seeks To Increase Rateslast_img read more