Disaster Strikes. How Does Your Company Respond?

Aug 13, 2013 10:00 AM ET

Fire, flood, ice, tornadoes… The Insurance Bureau of Canada says the frequency, severity and cost of extreme weather in Canada is increasing and Canadian corporations are seeking to support affected communities.

While insurance and government are expected to cover the brunt of the costs of a disaster, customers and employees that live and work in communities that have suffered often expect corporations to step up and help. In a 2011 study, SiMPACT Strategy Group found that 88 per cent of companies polled included disaster response as a portion of their overall community investment strategy.

How will your company respond?

Do you wait and see what competitors are doing or do you have a plan to act when these situations arise? “More companies are building disaster relief into their formal community investment plans. While they may not know when or where Mother Nature will strike, they are certain she will affect their customers and staff somewhere,” says Stephanie Robertson, President of SiMPACT Strategy Group.

Laying out a process and a plan for your company’s response before disaster hits will make for a quicker, smoother response during a crisis. Showing visible, planned support for disaster relief is also an effective tool for companies looking to recruit and retain top talent.  

Is cash enough?

Although cash is important, is it the only way your company can support a community in crisis? Companies may have valuable resources to contribute based on their industry (e.g. communications companies providing free air time, transport companies offering the use of their trucks, storage companies offering boxes and packing material).  Looking at what your company does and helping out in ways that align with your business expertise will have an impact.

Can employees lend a hand?

People want to help in times of crisis and your employees are no different. Finding ways to arrange for your staff to either volunteer during their normal working hours or arranging for group volunteer opportunities on the weekends not only benefits the community, but makes your staff feel important and supported in their desire to lend a hand. During the 2013 floods in southern Alberta, many companies empowered their staff to volunteer during work hours. They found that with some judicious balancing, it was possible to continue to provide high service levels to their customers while supporting the community.

With all these ways to give it’s also important to know when enough is enough. Corporations can get inundated with requests from staff, customers and community partners, but it’s not realistic to think that you can support every request. Discussing your limits and having a plan up front helps you to know, as hard as it is, when to say no.


SiMPACT Strategy Group
@simpactstrat ; www.simpactstrategies.com