CSR-related Crisis Response -- Plan Ahead, But Expect Unique Challenges

As stewards of environmental sustainability, social impact and ethical governance, Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) professionals and their internal functional partners are often engaged in key aspects of crisis management. The global spread of COVID-19 is no exception. What I have learned from this and past events -- including regionalized business impacts from wildfires, rolling blackouts and earthquakes -- is that in each event, the general tenants of CSR-related efforts are similar. Strong policies and crisis management procedures are a must to have in place well before an event occurs, but it's imperative to recognize and expect unique challenges in each situation that may require careful consideration and sometimes novel actions.

General Tenants of CSR-related Crisis Response

While ever-present in normal business operations, during a crisis event I tend to field an increased level of questions from multiple corporate stakeholders about the following CSR-related aspects:

This is certainly not an exhaustive list of corporate crisis management aspects but are the ones that tend to bubble to the top in the CSR space. As mentioned earlier, having strong policies aligned to the above before an event occurs is critical. That also goes for crisis management team structures to ensure designated individuals are tasked to lead crisis response within a defined decision-making hierarchy for quick decisioning as needed.

At Keysight we rely on our global as well as country- and site-specific crisis management teams to direct our formal response during such incidents, utilizing global policies and procedures already in place, including our:

With such policies in place as a basis, the unique aspects of each event may require distinctive actions.

COVID-19 Response Challenges

The reality is that no amount of planning can uncover the nuances of every crisis. Sometimes unique challenges without precedence do occur. In such times, fast action and decisioning is important to maintain employee health and productivity, customer success, supply chain continuity, community prosperity, and overall business continuity.

The COVID-19 pandemic, and its unprecedented impact on businesses and communities worldwide, certainly has raised some never-before seen challenges. Here are just a few to consider.

Even though defined policies and crisis management plans may not directly address all these sorts of incident challenges, when combined with defined decision-making processes they can provide guidance in addressing unique circumstances and help determine appropriate business response.

Onward Toward Recovery

While many businesses and individuals worldwide are experiencing a new, hopefully short term, reality in their daily lives, there will be a brighter day in the future. At that time, efforts will transition to recovery and best practices for business to return to normal, or maybe even in a better state than before as it relates to some of these topics.

In the meantime, we should all lean on our current policies and procedures, support human health and prosperity and incorporate any learnings from this event into our future crisis response management.