We cannot avoid talking about the pandemic currently affecting the global business environment, described as the “worst global health crisis in a generation” by Prime Minister Boris Johnson. The Director General of the World Health Organisation, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, recently called for an enterprise-wide approach to battling the pandemic, placing enterprise risk management at the centre of this crisis. We will see how our education, training and professional development has equipped us, and our organisations, to tackle this major risk.
The true impact on business will not be able to be gauged for some time, although we can see many businesses – from major airlines to local SMEs – already voicing their concerns about sustainability and requesting assistance and guidance from the government.
Public health measures in the UK are currently focusing on delay – slowing down the spread of the virus and reducing the numbers affected. The aim is to lower the peak impact and push it away from the winter season, initially by detecting and isolating early cases.
More severe measures have been put into place globally, for example reducing public gatherings, closing schools and restricting public transport, and such measures are beginning to have a significant global economic impact. As risk professionals we are skilled at framing and understanding these difficult policy choices.
Preparedness is key – effective risk management and business continuity plans now kicking into place will play a pivotal role. But some less risk-mature organisations will be in uncharted territory, which will sadly and inevitably lead to some businesses folding as we have already seen.
A core principle of risk management is to learn from experience and improve. There will be lessons from the experiences of dealing with the challenges of Covid-19, which will result in improved resilience and better risk management in the future.
With global supply chains being affected, the IRM recently launched its new Supply Chain Risk Management Certificate, in conjunction with the Supply Chain Risk Management Consortium. “Most businesses do not embrace or embark on a strategic risk journey until they experience a risk event,” says IRM founder Greg Schlegel. “If they do it’s all hands on deck 24/7, in an attempt to survive the event. If they do survive the event a lot of companies will go back to business as usual. Many companies do not survive a moderate-to-severe global risk event such as the Covid-19 virus.”
One of the challenges for risk managers will be to ensure there is a balanced, proportionate and common-sense approach. It is imperative that risk managers are qualified to deal with macro and micro issues confidently and competently. IRM is open for enrolments on all of our online distance-learning qualifications, suitable for anyone working in any business globally.
To view a recent webinar on risk management and the pandemic please click here.