9/11 one year on

first_img9/11 one year onOn 1 Sep 2002 in Military, Personnel Today Comments are closed. Previous Article Next Article Features list 2021 – submitting content to Personnel TodayOn this page you will find details of how to submit content to Personnel Today. We do not publish a…center_img Related posts: What long-term safetyimplications are there for HR one year on from 11 September? In our two-partreport Cindy Elmore, Bo Kremer-Jones and Liz Simpson exploreInthe first of our two-part special one year after the terrorist attacks on theWorld Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon, we look at what companies aredoing and how people have reacted, with changing priorities and new concernsTheterm ‘crisis management’ took on new meaning on 11 September 2001 when Al-Qaedaterrorists hijacked four American planes, flying two of them into the twintowers of New York’s World Trade Center and crashing another into the Pentagon,with the fourth coming down in Pennsylvania’s countryside. Prior to this event,crisis management had more to do with recalling contaminated or faultyproducts, whistleblowing or environmental disasters – with the emphasis ondamage limitation after the event. By12 September last year, however, after major New York-based, US and globalfinancial services companies and trading exchanges lost key employees in theattacks and smaller enterprises went out of business due to the loss ofessential corporate data, crisis management came to mean disaster preparednessand recovery on a very different scale.  Since11 September, the threat to businesses has shifted significantly, requiring anequivalent shift in security and in disaster planning – a shift few firms areapparently aware of or acting on. And where action is being taken, it is oftenunnecessarily expensive, intrusive and misguided.  Clearly,the events of last September were beyond the realms of understanding. Anexecutive vice-president at the American Stock Exchange admitted last Octoberthat the damage to its facilities wasn’t something it had ever made plans todeal with.Inthe intervening year, an abundance of advice has emerged on what to do in theevent of a similar attack and how to protect people, property and vitalbusiness information. This advice has come from the likes of nationalorganisations such as the American Safety and Health Institute, which recentlyreleased a ‘disaster preparedness’ video, as well as psychologists andspecialist consultants – many of whom are former military, law enforcement andsecurity personnel.But,as Larry Smith, president of the Institute for Crisis Management (ICM) based inLouisville, Kentucky reports: “On 12 September, our phones were ringingoff the hook with people wanting information and to be involved in creatingcrisis plans, but nobody wanted to spend any money. Over the past year we’veprobably not done any more significant business than we did the yearbefore,” says Smith. “Forwardthinking executives and HR managers, who understand it’s not a matter of ‘if’but ‘when’ their organisations will be struck by some kind of crisis, know thebetter prepared they are the less damage they will suffer and the quicker theywill recover. But getting them to do something before an event is anothermatter.”Indeed,HR professionals in a variety of businesses across the US and Europe aretight-lipped about the status of their corporate security. Outside the globalcorporations, many groups are exasperated that corporate America is doing solittle – or focusing on the wrong things.  “Ingeneral, companies are awakening to the fact that the ball game haschanged,” says Lance Wright, a partner with global executive search firmBoyden International and an expert on security issues. “Those who havesuffered bad PR in the past are probably further ahead than most – firms suchas oil companies, other large multinationals that have to deal withenvironmentally sensitive issues and those with less favourable reputations,such as the tobacco industry.” However,even these companies, Wright believes, “have yet to reach the point wherethere is strategic security function that operates at a top level and isresponsible to the board”, a position that he regards as vital in today’sworld of changing priorities.BuildingtensionsPerhapsthe magnitude of 11 September was so overwhelming that companies are in denialabout something of that nature happening to them, says Peter Power, managingdirector of Visor Consultants in the UK. “Too many companies are saying‘If we haven’t got two big towers near us, then we’re OK’.”Butmaybe it is just that firms are failing to appreciate the simple steps they cantake to ensure their people, property and corporate intelligence are protected,and that business can continue to operate without undue loss of working days.”Fearbrings business to a halt,” writes Alexis D Gutzman in the opening chapterof her book, Unforeseen Circumstances: Strategies and Technologies forProtecting Your Business & People in a Less Secure World. Yet the knee-jerkreaction of many US building owners and managing agents in increasing buildingsecurity to levels exceeding that of airports, says J Paul Beitler, constantlyreminds workers that they’re operating in a dangerous place. Suchthinking plays into the hands of terrorists who are less concerned with blowingup buildings or killing people than undermining the fabric of Western society.According to Beitler, a Chicago-based real estate and asset management expert,security costs in that city up to 11 September were running at 30 cents asquare foot. Now they’re $3 a square foot because of the installation ofdetection devices and the small army of additional security guards. Theseincreased charges are likely to outrage executives and possibly cripple smalland medium-sized businesses in the city when companies receive their annualbills. Yet most of that expense is being badly deployed.”Noneof the measures that have been installed in office buildings would haveprevented the events of 9/11,” says Beitler. “Those terrorists didn’tattack the World Trade Center because it contained corporate offices, butbecause it was an icon of American capitalist society. It’s hard for me toenvision that somebody is going to die for Allah by crashing into the worldheadquarters of Hyatt, for example.” Manyfirms across the world already had in place emergency plans for if the buildingcaught fire, if a bomb went off, if someone entered the building with a gun –but how many companies had prepared for a Boeing jet coming through the window?The answer: Not many – if any at all.Attemptingto predict possible terrorist or other attacks is an area that Lance Wrightthinks that HR should be involved in, given their “basic facilitationskills to help others think the unthinkable”. Butgiven that bombing incidents do occur in buildings – for example, thedevastation of the Oklahoma City Federal office building in April 1995 and,almost exactly two years earlier the massive IRA bomb in Bishopsgate, Londonthat killed one person and damaged 72 city buildings – what kind of securitydoes Beitler, a Vietnam veteran, recommend?”I’mnot advocating no security,” he answers. “But it should be reasonableand not turn office buildings into armed campuses. Most office buildings todayput primary focus on the front doors, entrance hall and reception areas. Yet in95 per cent of cases where theft or some traumatic event occurs theperpetrators enter – usually unhindered – through the back of thebuilding.  It’s ironic that thestrenuous screening of office workers’ bags is not being done for deliverypersons. And there’s often little or no security under the loading docks ornear dumpsters where vehicles carrying large bombs or weapons can cause realdamage to buildings.”ContingencyplanningThefact is, says Beitler, most security measures that have been installed wereundertaken with no real mission or direction in mind. But to succeed atdisaster preparedness and recovery – whether caused by natural events such asfloods, earthquakes and snowstorms or man-made ones such as fires, chemicalspills or bomb threats – a plan is absolutely essential.Indeed,poor contingency planning is considered to be the reason why a third of thecosts attributed to major disasters like the 1993 World Trade Center bombing,and those perpetrated by the IRA in London, are linked with the inability tocontinue doing business  And it’s notjust a plan that is necessary, it’s a whole new function with new skills andcompetencies that firms need to consider (see right).Forexample, when Verizon Communications’ network went down after the lowerManhattan attacks it took with it New York recruiting firm Digital MarketResearch’s ability to communicate beyond its own four walls – despite the factthat Digital is located midtown, some distance from Ground Zero.  Only after setting up a duplicate networkinfrastructure – something few companies based well away from key terroristtargets would normally think of doing – could the company get back tobusiness.  That loss of accessibility tocustomers and potential clients is reported to have cost Digital $120,000.Butothers were more fortunate – or just more prepared. In a totally unplannedmove, a well-known asset management firm, for example, had within 48 hourstaken over two floors of one of the hotels of a large multinational chain andwas running business ‘as usual’ from there.Usingformer military and law enforcement personnel as consultants when drawing up adisaster preparedness plan also produces previously unthought-of links betweenIT and people. John Bucciarelli is president of WMD Task Force, a USorganisation whose subject matter experts have more than 500 years ofexperience between them, covering terrorism, weapons of mass destruction anddisaster preparedness. Thankfully, they’re the good guys. Since forming earlierthis year, the WMD Task Force has worked with companies to help deter terrorismand reduce vulnerabilities.However,not everyone with former military experience will be useful as a securityadviser, warns Visor’s Peter Power.”Inmy experience there are too many charlatans out there that say that justbecause they defused a bomb 10 years ago during some war, they can deal withthe security implications of this kind of threat in Bruges, for example. It’snot much good bringing in a bomb disposal expert when the ball game has soclearly changed. We need to change with it,” he says.Awarenessis cheap but preparedness can be costly, adds Washington DC-based psychologistand organisation development consultant Paul Camper, who specialises in thearea of HR-related disaster management. He says it is critical to devote moretime, energy and money to respond to the psychological and emotionalconsequences of disasters – particularly technological disasters, which havethe greatest effect on worker productivity.Whilethe Employee Assistance Programs in place in many organisations in the US havebeen a boon for many company employees, particularly those who live alone anddon’t have the all-important emotional support outside of work, they aregenerally not equipped to cope with crisis management and response, saysCamper. What is important, he adds, is for HR to partner with community-basedorganisations and authorities that have established educational awarenessschemes to help employees understand what to expect and how to adequatelyrespond to disaster incidents.Indeed,companies such as Morgan Stanley – having devised a comprehensive disaster planand ensured that its employees rehearsed those measures regularly and had inplace no-cost ‘buddy systems’ – got many of its people out when terror struckthe twin towers in 2001. After all, it’s one thing to have a plan, but quiteanother to ensure employees know what it’s like to walk down 50 flights ofstairs already crowded with panicked co-workers.Inplanning what needs to be done in a crisis, one communication factor frequentlyoverlooked is the importance of taking advantage of lower level knowledge.”Oneof the key people to get on board is the janitor, because they know what isgoing on in the building whereas few high level folks would know where thepower switches are,” says associate professor Bev Sauer, who runs crisismanagement workshops at Johns Hopkins University and is the author of TheRhetoric of Risk which studied crisis communication and planning in the coalmining industry.Itis difficult to engage employees in disaster preparedness if management doesn’tunderstand what is needed or – as with the FBI operative’s memo warning of MiddleEasterners taking flying lessons which failed to reach senior levels prior to9/11 – if important information is ignored, says Sauer.Achievinga balance between making people aware of potential crises and scaring them outof their wits is also a consideration. And here it seems the Europeans havedeveloped considerably more resilience than their American counterparts.Psychologists in the US have coined a new term, “anticipatoryanxiety”, whereby individuals display symptoms of anxiety, stress and depressionto an event that hasn’t even occurred – such as the possibility of furthermainland terrorist attacks on the first anniversary of 11 September.Indeed,much of the American public’s super-charged reaction to 9/11 may have much todo with their isolationist nature – and the insularity that exists even betweenthe different US states. The US populace is regarded as not being as wellversed in overseas issues as their European cousins and seem to have a shortmemory when it comes to disasters that have occurred on US soil.Ever-changingterrorism”I’vejust finished a new book in which I make the observation that 11 September wasreally nothing new,” says the ICM’s Larry Smith. “When my editorcalled to dispute that, I pointed out that hijackings have taken place in theUS since the 1970s. A US bomber crashed into the Empire State Building in 1945,and a single-engine Cessna flown by a deranged man hit the west side of theWhite House in 1994.”Inthe past 15 years, environmental accidents have dropped significantly becauseof training after incidents such the explosion at a plant owned by UnionCarbide in Bhopal, India and the Exxon Valdez oil spill into the Gulf ofAlaska. So management can learn lessons from the past when it wants to,”adds Smith. “However, from all we can tell from literature, news coverageand anecdotal evidence, the majority of companies affected by 9/11 did not haveadequate disaster plans and, as a result, when their building collapsed, thebusiness collapsed with it.”Becausethe business of terror has changed, Boyden’s Wright points out that businessesmay be threatened by terrorist activity that takes on ever-changing shapes,depending on the nature of the business itself. “The concern now for, say,burger chains such as McDonalds or Burger King is that some politically orreligiously motivated organisation traces their beef supplier and places acontaminant in the beef in such a way that it undetectable for some time.Imagine the amount of people they could affect with that,” he warns.Workplaceviolence, however, has been all too familiar to the US, in which death andinjury have been caused by assailants no-one would have thought of barring fromthe workplace. Such is the case of the fatal shooting of seven people –including the HR director – by a co-worker on the morning after Christmas 2000at Edgewater Technology, an internet consulting firm in suburban Boston,Massachusetts. Larry Smith was called that day by a frantic woman who had beendirected to the ICM by the Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM), some ofwhose employees had attended a workshop of Smith’s.Ashe recalls: “The week after, when Edgewater employees went back to work,the company arranged for each one of them to see a critical incident stressdebriefing counsellor paid for by the company for as long as needed. Thecorporate culture was excellent before the shooting, with the CEO ShirleySingleton being a very people-oriented person,” says Smith. “This wasan excellent example of employees, who had established a strong bond in theyears that they had worked together, wanting to get back to console each otherand grieve together. Their way of not letting that crazy gunman get the best ofthem was to make the business productive again.”Thisexample of enlightened management behaviour, supported by creative HR systems,is exactly the kind of approach that organisations need to take to ensureemployee loyalty and performance in these fearful times, according to DonChristian, a partner in PricewaterhouseCoopers’ Global Risk ManagementSolutions practice and the leader of their New York Operational EffectivenessTeam.”Companiesthat implement HR systems and methods which engender employee connectivity,including helping people manage stress and change, will operationally winconsistently in the market, as opposed to only being successful as they ride awave,” says Christian. “The human psychological and social impact ofrising safety concerns are still being understood. However, it is increasinglyimportant to focus on doing the right thing even if all the right methods areunknown. “Attitudesare strongly linked to experiences. Given that 9/11 was our first majorexperience, it is difficult to predict the lasting effect. However, fear forsafety and protection of family will continue to emerge and accelerate withmore provocation – real or perceived – until our expectation for fear andconcern reach another level.”ByBo Kremer Jones and Liz SimpsonChangingpriorities: Reactions post 11 septemberSince11 September, many Americans have actively changed the way they work. Accordingto a Maritz poll conducted in January, 41 per cent of US employees said theyhad reviewed their work-life priorities since the World Trade Tower attacks.Ofthat total:–52 per cent have chosen to work from home or ask for flexi-time arrangements tohave more time with their families–20 per cent planned to find another job or career path more personally rewarding–21 per cent planned to establish stronger relationships with their co-workersInaddition, 28 per cent of Americans polled by Maritz Research planned toparticipate in more community volunteer opportunities sponsored by theiremployer.Source:Maritz Poll – www.maritzpoll.com or call (US only) 1-800 446 1690Anational telephone survey on post-11 September reactions, conducted by thesociology department of the College of William and Mary, a small publicuniversity located in Williamsburg, Virginia found that:–More than one in three US workers (around 49 million) felt more stressed on thejob–One in four felt their jobs had become more dangerous–Around 33 per cent of workers polled reported that their workplaces hadimplemented tighter security measures after the 9/11 attacks. However, of thosereporting higher security, 40 per cent said these precautions did not make themfeel any safer, although the majority felt they were necessary measuresFullreport available at: http://faculty.wm.edu/jtrobeWhatabout the disabled?”Whatmany of us realised after 9/11 was that while for the past 50 years we havebeen focused on getting people with disabilities into the workplace, we hadoverlooked how to get them out in a disaster situation,” says JamesWilliams, president and CEO of Easter Seals, a US-wide voluntary organisationthat has provided services to children and adults with disabilities since 1919.Findinga solution for the safe evacuation of the 13 million Americans in the workforcewho have disabilities, plus the additional 25 per cent with special needs, iscritical, says Williams.”Immediatelyafter the disaster, President Bush’s speech to the joint session of Congressincluded reference to a worker with disabilities who didn’t make it out of oneof the towers, and another who did. That elevated interest in this issue andled to our Safety First campaign, encouraging communities to work together tohelp find necessary solutions.”Indeed,the issue concerning co-workers with mobility problems, who might find itdifficult to walk down 18 floors in a crowded stairwell – such as a pregnantemployee or someone with epilepsy that might be triggered by a warning system’sflashing lights – was addressed recently by Easter Seals, given that thecompany is housed in a Chicago high-rise.TheHR director asked all employees to communicate, strictly confidentially, ifthey wanted to be identified as needing special assistance in the event of anemergency. Many more than had been expected did so – including one with severediabetes.  “Don’tassume that the solution to these issues needs to be high tech or highcost,” says Williams. Something as simple as a buddy system can make allthe difference for a person who is hearing-impaired and may not pick up cluesfrom an auditory alarm system,” he adds.Inaddition, the organisation has bought two ‘evacu-chairs’ with tracks that gripthe stairs, enabling those with mobility problems to safely descend at the samespeed as someone walking.”Theseevacu-chairs are situated at the entrance to each stairwell and everyone hasbeen shown where they are and how to use them. Aside from planning what youneed to do in a crisis, the other advice is to practice, practice,practice,” says Williams. “We’ve had three or four drills since 9/11,most of which called for a complete evacuation of floors 18-24 using thestairwells.”Suchdrills have the added benefit of highlighting the employees who need specialassistance, even those who don’t look as if, or admit that, they do.Takingon the terrorists Howcan firms cope in this new unsafe world?Inthe post-11 September world, says Boyden International’s Lance Wright,”there is no such thing as business and then security as a separateissue”. Whattoday’s organisations must have, he says, is “a strategic securityfunction operating at the top level of business. Whoever fills this role mustbe responsible to the board”.”Theymust have a strategic focus rather than an operational focus,” he says.”It’s not about ‘guns and badges’ anymore.”Theevents of 11 September have forced security issues further into the boardroomthan ever before. To deal with these new risks effectively takes a whole newway of thinking – and a new set of skills. Before, business continuity was verymuch an IT issue – getting the machines back up and running – but with 11September, HR has very much come to the forefront of the security issue.Notonly must a high-level corporate security expert interact with and advise theboard, but also with HR, IT and other critical departments. They should besomeone with experience in handling this sort of role in a large organisation.And that, he points out, “doesn’t necessarily mean that it should besomeone from the military”.Whenlooking for these new skills, Wright suggests that former intelligenceorganisation operatives might produce the right candidate. “They have tohave emotional intelligence too,” he believes. “They have to be ableto read the signals that people are sending out, both inside and outside theorganisation in terms of important issues. In addition,” he adds, “ithas to be a top-notch manager who understands data and can manageeffectiveness. They should be a change agent, someone who is comfortable withthe new paradigm we live in.”Wrightoffers other suggestions about seeking this skilled new employee. “Whatabout an MBA,” he asks, “who has two languages and a background indata analysis? Individuals with technical depth and who have demonstrated anorganisational and strategic capability are probably the most likelycandidates. You can then quickly get them up to speed on the ‘guns and badges’aspect of all this.”People– your most important assets?”Companiesare paying more to secure their IT systems because that clearly has an impacton how you continue to operate. But we challenge clients to give some time andthought to their most important resources – the individuals who work forthem,” says Mallary Tytel, head of ETP, the Connecticut, US-based non-profitHR and management consulting firm.Shereports that for several months following 9/11 she met with a corporate clientlocated at Ground Zero and on asking the senior management team how things weregoing, was told: “Great – we’ve been able to get our IT systems up andrunning.” Yet when Tytel dug deeper she discovered this company of 100people had a 12 per cent turnover rate, compounded no doubt by managers who hadbegun counting their employees’ changed priorities – like going home on time tobe with families – as lost productivity.Whichraises the question: is HR up for the stepped-up challenge of 21st centurycrisis management?Fewcompanies in the US have taken succession planning into account, adds Tytel,meaning they are ill prepared for the loss of key personnel, by whatever means.The picture is not much brighter in Europe. In Germany, for example, recentresearch suggests 80 per cent of its small and medium-sized enterprises have nosuccessor to the CEO.Achievinga balance between the cost of increased security measures, training andcounselling and the potential risks is tricky, she admits, given that the USeconomy took a nosedive – due in part to 9/11. And the US was not alone, theripple effects of America’s economic slump were felt the world over.”Oftenwhat we see with our clients is that the moment the economy takes a dip, HR andtraining programmes are cut because senior management doesn’t recognise thatthese functions are protecting tangible and extremely valuable assets,”says Tytel.Somesolutions, however, cost nothing. One third of all terrorist incidents involvehostages and while your organisation may have chartered private planes forsenior personnel or reduced executive air travel since 9/11, have you everconsidered how your corporate website might be part of your threatassessment?  John Bucciarelli has.”Weadvised a top 10 Fortune 500 company with worldwide offices to think about howwise it was to list the addresses and locations of their critical operations ontheir website,” says Bucciarelli. “Then there’s the seeminglyharmless executive biographies with details of where someone lives, togetherwith names of family members.”HRprofessionals need to reorient themselves with the way we think about what weput on the internet so that key employees don’t become targets.” If theydon’t they will miss a serious opportunity and will undoubtedly be reduced oncemore to simply carrying out more mundane administrative tasks.BoydenInternational’s Lance Wright, adds: “Suddenly, HR is in a business it’snot had to be in before. HR should be in a critical advisory capacity. HRprofessionals should be key players in managing the strategic security process,and they should be involved in revisiting the approach to competencies andskill sets to understand what is needed of a strategic risk manager. If theskills are not in the company already, someone needs to say so.” AndWright believes that someone should be HR. TomMajor, regional security director EMEA and CIS with International SOS, seesHR’s role more as being involved in communication. “In a crisis, HR arethe communications line through which the rest of the company has tomobilise,” he says.Newconcerns AHarris Interactive survey conducted for Privacy and American Business(P&AB), an activity of the non-profit public policy think tank the Centerfor Social and Legal Research, shows “signs of new post-9/11concerns”. Amajority of employees feel that their employers should be strengthening IDprocedures for entering premises and accessing computer systems, and doing moredetailed background checks on job applicants. The report also says that 35 percent felt their employer should do more detailed background checks on currentemployees.Indeed,adds P&AB: “This attitude, formed by recent events, may explain tosome extent why Americans in this survey seem more accepting and open-mindedabout their employer practices as they relate to privacy.” Aclear example of this in the report notes that “four out of five employeesand managers say they would be willing to have an ID card issued by theiremployer that would have on it their photo, basic personal information and abiometric identifier, such as a finger print to enhance workplacesecurity”.Furtherinformation–Institute for Crisis Management 950 Breckenridge Lane, Suite 140 Louisville,Kentucky 40207-4687, US www.crisisexperts.com  Tel: +1 502-891-2508–The American Safety & Health Institute 4148 Louis Avenue Holiday, Florida,34691, US Tel: +1 800 246 5101 www.ashinstitute.com–Unforeseen Circumstances: Strategies and Technologies for Protecting YourBusiness & People in a Less Secure World Alexis D. Gutzman, AMACOM 2002–WMD Task Force: www.wmdtaskforce.com     Toll Free (US only) :Tel: 1 888 401 3136–Vanguard Integrity Professionals HQ: 2950 E. Flamingo Road, Suite D-1, LasVegas, Nevada 89121, US. The company maintains R&D centres in Californiaand Canada, as well as a wholly-owned subsidiary in the UK.  www.go2vanguard.com–Another company that largely comprises professionals with federal and local lawenforcement or military and security backgrounds is Talon www.talonexec.com–The Beitler Company has produced two booklets: A Practical Guide to TenantSafety and Practical Security Guidelines for Building Managers.  www.beitlerco.com–For details of the Easter Seals’ new ‘Safety First’ programme or to request aSafety First kit, visit www.easter-seals.org or call toll free (in the US) 1866 BE SAFE5–The Rhetoric of Risk: Technical Documentation in Hazardous Environments byBeverly Sauer of Carnegie Mellon University, published by Lawrence ErlbaumAssociates, 2002–For details of surveys and publications on IT security offered by the InformationTechnology Association of America, go to: www.itaa.org/infosec/surveys.htm–www.boyden.com–www.internationalsos.com–www.dti.gov.uk–www.watsonwyatt.com–www.crisis.fr–www.crisis-management-and-disaster-recovery.com–www.law-now.com–www.pandab.org (Privacy and American Business)last_img

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