Prepared Boards Lead When Natural Disasters Strike
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November 06, 2017
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The Agenda article, “Prepared Boards Lead When Natural Disasters,” written by Russell Reynolds Associates Consultant Stephen Morse discussed how corporate America has proven it is prepared to respond to natural disasters and elaborated on the important role Boards can play. The article is excerpted below.

Article Published in Agenda

Stephen Morse is a managing director in Russell Reynolds Associates’ Houston office who leads the firm’s Energy and Natural Resources Practice and is a co-leader for the Industrial and Natural Resources Sector globally. 

It has been an especially devastating year in the U.S. and Caribbean Islands for natural disasters. Despite the challenges of responding to such crises, corporate America has proved it is prepared to respond to natural disasters better than before, and boards have a big role to play. 

At the end of August, Hurricane Harvey made landfall in my city of Houston, Texas, and caused widespread devastation for many of our residents. Since then, it has been amazing to see how well government officials have responded to this tragedy, but also how effective corporations have been in helping their employees and the community. It has truly had an impact. 

In speaking to a number of CEOs, board directors and senior executives who shared how their companies responded during the disaster, it has struck me how well prepared they had been for Harvey and hence how efficiently and effectively they have been able to respond. 

Previous natural disasters have shone a spotlight on how prepared, or unprepared, companies were for these unexpected catastrophes. The 2017 hurricanes wreaked havoc on the southern coast of the U.S. and Caribbean islands. This, along with the wildfires in California, has provided a huge challenge for corporations to demonstrate once again their ability to prepare for natural disasters. Compared with their responses from five years ago, this time it is clear their preparation has paid off. 

Well-prepared Houston business know that human capital is a corporation’s most valuable asset. This ideology coincides with a “people first, business second” approach to management. 

Protecting and prioritizing employees is a critical first step in putting this philosophy into action. Corporate boards can and should play an essential role by not only supporting the efforts of cross-functional teams to develop best practice crisis management planning — often with the help of outside consulting and benchmarking firms — but also mandating annual reviews of these plans. 

To read the full article, click here.