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Special report: ACTE risk conference

ACTE London education forum

ACTE hosted a one-day education conference in London, entitled Risk: legal vs professional obligations, on March 26 at the Grange Tower Bridge hotel.

Matthew Judge, group managing director of the Anvil Group, opened the conference with a wake-up call: in 2013, 8,000 people were killed in terrorist attacks, a 61 per cent increase on 2012; 24 countries experienced terror attacks that killed more than 50 individuals and since 2000, there has been a five-fold increase in the number of deaths from terrorism.

And in 2014 alone, events that put people’s lives at risk ranged from the shooting down of Malaysia Airlines MH17, through Ebola in West Africa to the worst flooding in 100 years in Serbia and Bosnia-Herzegovina. Increasing amounts of legislation addressed companies’ failure to provide adequate duty of care, he said, and recent anti-terrorism legislation in the UK made it illegal to pay a ransom to a terrorist group, forcing many organisations to review their risk insurance policies.

Judge warned that companies need to know who they are doing business with, taking into account human rights or sanctions – the EU and US has sanctions against 34 countries, and trading with them can incur a multi-million dollar fine. Emerging economies are giving incentives to attract investment, companies are travelling farther afield to do business and going to areas that have traditionally been regarded as not safe. Security measures taken by participants include pre-trip reports, traveller tracking, real-time messages about security issues in the country to be visited.

Policy and risk
In round-table discussions, travel buyers discussed risks associated with travellers’ names and companies displayed on placards at airports and in hotels. Recommendations to mitigate risk included re-writing travel policy with greater onus on travellers to take responsibility for their health and security; education and e-learning for travellers; and involving staff in regular crisis management scenarios.

Delegates agreed that change management requires working out who is able to influence change. Getting PAs on side works, as does identifying relevant stakeholders. One expert witness advised that if the main barriers to change are political, technical and cost, you should work out whether stakeholders are pro, anti or neutral – and work your proposals accordingly.

Matthew Judge proposed post-trip travel surveys as a way to highlight risks and problems. One delegate said his company has board-level representation in the security group it uses, and said that travel and risk managers need a “champion” on the board – or at least close to it.

Change management
Driving change is difficult because there is always a reason not to do something, said Telefónica UK’s Wayne Buckley in the final presentation. Buckley, head of business improvement on the telecom giant’s strategic change team, said organisations need a compelling story to ensure structures, processes and systems reinforce changes. Introducing a new tool or system without education meets with heavy resistance, he said, adding that role models can help companies see leaders, colleagues and staff behaving differently.


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