Security Barometer: Is Social Unrest Having an Impact on Your Organization?

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Social unrest and disruptive behavior seem to be expanding. In this Security Barometer quick poll, we wanted to investigate if and how corporations are being impacted (directly or indirectly) and whether the Security function has a role in risk mitigation plans.

For the purposes of this Security Barometer, we used a broad definition of unrest, to include not just protesting and rioting but also disruptive activities such as unruly behavior.

The results appear to indicate that most all organizations are feeling the effects of civil unrest in one form or another with only 9% of respondents claiming that their organizations are not being affected.

chart showing results from the question what is the magnitude of the impact or social unrest and disruptive behavior on your organization? low impact and medium impact represent 83% of the respondents.

Most of the respondents that selected "Other" in the quick poll did so because the magnitude of the effects depended on the location of their various facilities (i.e., urban versus rural).

Threats Being Faced and Actions Taken

The quick poll asked respondents to provide additional information regarding what kinds of disruptive behaviors is their organizations were facing and in what ways, was the Security function becoming involved in addressing them.

Below is a list of selected responses to this question (edited to protect the privacy of the respondents and the organizations they represent).
  • Targeted protests, threats, inappropriate behavior. Our team manages the threat assessment/management process and are members of the overall risk assessment team.
  • From a supply chain perspective, we need to deliver our goods and have our products and drivers remain safe while transporting them. We worry about unrest in streets and drivers getting caught in the middle of this. Putting our driver’s safety at risk, as well as our product.
  • Increased social conditioning, exploitation of human kindness and tangential victimization of increased workplace violence. Violence and activity assailants plague our in-market personnel. We have always been engaged in education, actionable awareness programs, compliance training and mitigation strategy. Our involvement is not new, but the risk has become tangible.
  • Little to no impact originating from political or social issues. Our consistent problem is from the "routine" potential WPV situations such as direct or indirect threats to management and/or other employees.
  • Demonstrations and protests in cities where we operate impact our associates directly (road detours and closures) and indirectly (uncertainty over whether to return to working at the office).
  • Employees downing tools protesting to demand pay increase. Security have intelligence gathering mechanisms to alert management of possible disruptions, working closely with workers representatives and management to defuse such disruptions through dialogue and seeking amicable solutions
  • 1. Road access and travel 2. General staff safety 3. Morale and stressors
  • Speaking mostly for Latin America, we have had some social unrest and protests events in places where we have operation and not specifically against our company with road blockages (such as many in Argentina and recently in Brazil), high level of violence (such as in Mexico - Culiacanazo I and II), social movements with invasion of properties (such as with MST in Brazil). This kind of incidents has been impacting our logistics and plant / office operation for no more than couple of days, with some exceptions that have reached couple of weeks. No major impacts were recorded in our general numbers or work.
  • Although we have not been a target of any civil unrest, our facilities and retail sites have been slightly impacted during protests in the form of congestion, site closures, minor property damage.
  • Anger and morale issues.
  • Monitor and provide updates and mitigation recommendation to site leadership.
  • Mostly in Latin America- it impacts our truck distribution routes in some countries.
  • Mostly incidental impacts from demonstrations directed at government entities occurring near our facilities. This has impacted associate travel and commuting, and led to some safety concerns. Given that the majority of the corporate workforce continues to work from home, the impact has been minimal, but could be higher with larger in-office populations.
  • No impact; our industry is in gaming and entertainment and hasn't observed disruptive behavior or unrest.
  • Civil unrest/protests have disrupted deliveries and delivery routes. Disruptive behavior, threats, and workplace violence has doubled each of the past three years and our Security function conducts threat assessments and takes mitigating action.
  • In Urban areas, we have seen a dramatic increase in mentally unstable and homeless persons, as well as an increase in violent crime. While not in our workspaces due to our efforts, they are outside the doors. Police resources down in these areas, and the judicial system is just a revolving door. One incident involving an employee might cause a building or the brand to become stigmatized, and therefore retaining or attracting employees could become an issue. Security has increased visibility, aggressively promotes escorting (physical and virtual), and messaging on security awareness and personal responsibility.
  • Protests that turn violent. Significant amount of Intelligence capacity is required. Cost of additional security and off duty law enforcement presence is incurred.
  • While I have only been at my company for a few months, social unrest has not impacted us. But this can obviously change depending on where the unrest of taking place.
  • Civil unrest for any number of reasons resulted in facility closings or production reductions.
  • Derogatory comments about company locations on social media. Planned demonstrations caused us to ramp up security. None of the demonstrations impacted our locations. Selected international travel was postponed due to planned protests.
  • Our workplace violence rates have increased dramatically as everyone seems to be more defensive, on edge and anxious. Our security team has been stretched and tasked with more duties, as well as we have deployed weapons detectors in our main entrance.
  • Social unrest leading to protest has, on occasion, prevented facilities located near the activity from operating. Our GSOC attempts to identify and communicate these activities in advance to allow the business to shift operations to other facilities, if possible. If disruption occurs without warning, GSOC escalates to the appropriate internal functions to mitigate risk to people and operations, as well as disruption to customers.
  • We have offices in Nigeria. The current unrest revolves around the currency exchange - or lack thereof - and the upcoming elections. We are reducing our risk by closing the offices and having employees work from home in a remote manner.
  • We have incredible lines at our drive thru's. However, the lines, along with a lack of patience, has proved to be a disrupter at several locations. The problem is not chain wide, but enough where our security team is developing de-escalation techniques and best practices to provide our franchise operators.
  • Primarily threats and intimidation from individuals (i.e. harassment and direct threats). Security is heavily involved with investigations and establishing protective measures.
  • Many of our offices and people in large cities reside in areas that have experienced civil unrest. Although we have not felt direct impacts to the safety and well-being of our people or the tangible impact of physical damage to our facilities, the intangibles (feeling safe & diversity and inclusion and understanding) are felt company wide.
  • Social political unrest created by population, political parties or unions in different countries. Global Security has an active seat on every regional or global crisis management discussion.
  • We do a great deal of mining and remote site operations, also in cities in many areas deemed high or extreme risk so social upheaval causes that much more turmoil. Security at the local level is crucial to mitigating risk and establishing a strong foundation at each location.
  • Civil unrest and protest due to social issues (Covid, abortion), police-involved shootings, sports-related celebrations, gun violence, drug trade, and homelessness.
  • Mental health and drug addiction problems that filter into our campuses from the larger community.
  • Kids developing a gang mentality and acting out on our open campus is about the extent. We have a good relationship with local PD and they are quick to respond and assist.
  • Intelligence and physical preparations on sites.
  • We are typically only impacted on a secondary nature where one of our offices is in close proximity to where a protest is occurring and we become collaterally impacted.
  • We (my org includes crisis management as well as security) play a large role in identifying unrest that could potentially be impactful, sharing intelligence and checking in on local operations to ensure preparedness. We also play a role in helping the business make decisions on whether or not to close or re-open an office during or leading up to a period of unrest. Our intel is shared with ERM, coms and many others who will also make decisions regarding business exposure or internal communications. We only weigh in on those decisions heavily if the unrest is significant. Due to our ability to get much critical work done remotely, unrest is much less impactful than pre-COVID times.
  • Personal safety concerns for field-based sales employees who by happenchance find themselves transiting through or working in / near a protest area.
  • Our main site for protests is in San Francisco, usually rally points are blocks from our office. We put out Everbridge notices to advise people of impending issues and encourage them to keep abreast of local news and traffic implications. We also partner with corporate comms to assist with messaging on high profile cases (social injustice/police matters).
  • We are dealing with challenges around (1) road blockades and kidnapping by gangs in Haiti. (2) Dealt with disruptive protests in Brazil during the presidential election. We proactively moved our flight crews from downtown hotels in Rio and Sao Paulo, to hotels closer to airports. Similarly, in Mexico and Colombia, we have had to move airline crews to airport hotels due to strikes by taxi drivers and others. (3) Strikes have also impacted us in cities like Paris and London.
  • Community forums obstruct access to mining operations. There are different mining houses in the area. Although only 20% of these protests were directly aimed towards our operations, the rest also impact the operations because protestors obstruct access logistic routes at strategic intersections. The security function can only monitor situations when on public roads - as security function does not have authority to act. The issue is that the Police services are slow to react and do not enforce the law. On site at the operational facilities, security has the capacity to deal with the protest and protect life and property
  • We are a faith-based organization and have relatively large numbers of missionaries / volunteers in diverse locations, who's movements and operational abilities are often affected, necessitating a "shelter in place" scenario. We have standard plans in place for storage of basics for a few days.
  • Seeing increased vandalism.
  • Spontaneous protests at airports have become problematic for business travel in Africa. We use a secure transport vendor to help mitigate this risk. Generally, WFH orders are issued when it’s too risky for local employees to go to the office.
  • Impact on commuting and business travels, Safety of employees near protest actions, Strikes at healthcare facilities.
  • In our company we have implemented home office with good results. We don't have buildings or physical offices, our personnel work from home and they don´t have need of go out at the street.
  • Our organization is a hospital. More patients and their companions feel empowered to treat our patient care employees with rudeness, disrespect, and physical assault. Our security officers have taken the lead in training patient care staff in Workplace Violence prevention and response. The Security Department teaches classes to staff, provides proactive notice to patients and visitors that violence is not tolerated, and responds to violence reports in a swift and decisive manner.
  • Employee violence, customer violence, employee social media posts - addressed with extensive osint searches.
  • Employees responding negatively to procedures that suggest 9-911 as a partial solution claiming that they feel uncomfortable with any armed police in their presence because of 'recent events', and also suggesting that active-duty police officers should not be allowed to carry sidearms in clinics when responding as police officers on duty.
  • Rallies, protests, building occupation post public operating hours, consuming resources to support these disruptive events. Our involvement comes through scouring open source/known site along with LE sensitive information to coordinate appropriate responses. Having our security team be onsite to support/represent property interests, notifications and coordination to ensure business continuity is in place.
  • We are seeing significant impact in specific, localized countries across the world. In countries like El Salvador, Sri Lanka and Lebanon, the unrest has led our national associations to implement contingency plans to protect our people and stakeholders. Beyond the unrest, we are very concerned about the impact of very high consumer price inflation that appears to be a factor in the unrest, but also in undermining our organization's financial ability to accomplish their goals.
  • Political driven unrest and insurgency unrest. Security is involved in providing awareness and developing contingency measures.

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