Business resilience in focus - Responsible Business in Action

Small business is the backbone of the UK economy, making up most of the private sector and providing over 60% of total employment1. Business in the Community's Business Emergency Resilience Group (BERG), believes responsible businesses are resilient businesses. We help small businesses to be more prepared for business disruptions such as a flood, fire or cyber-attack. We also respond to requests from Local Resilience Forums (LRFs) by asking our large business members to provide support for communities in the event of an emergency.

Each of our finalists in this year’s Barclays’ Developing Resilience Award has a unique take on how to help small businesses be more prepared.

BRE have developed a test-case house proves that making homes resilient to floods is possible.

CityCo are using experience of the 2017 Manchester Arena bombing to improve business continuity support across the city 

First Recovery are providing businesses with new temporary location after disasters 

Unilever Have trained a thousand business owners in the Philippines to build resilience and protect their supply chain 

The awards, culminating in the Responsible Business Awards Gala, offer a moment to reflect on our collective endeavours and successes; they help ensure that small business resilience stays firmly on the national agenda.

For smaller businesses, engaging with the concept of resilience can be overwhelming given the constraints on time and resources. Layer this with an all too common ‘it won’t happen to me’ attitude and you have a seemingly intractable problem. However, each small business is a customer or a supplier for a larger business. Large businesses, therefore, have several levers which they can use to encourage their small business networks to be more resilient. There is a compelling commercial imperative for large companies to encourage resilience in their suppliers and customers, it benefits the bottom line by reducing disruption costs and preserves and can even enhance, brand value and reputation.

Small Business Suppliers
We all operate in an increasingly interdependent and complex environment, a supply chain is a perfect example of this. It is an eco-system in which all constituent parts need to be healthy to enable all to thrive. In short, companies are only as resilient as the weakest link in their supply chain.

BERG’s Call To Action
We are calling on all businesses to enhance small business preparedness so that when the worst happens UK plc can recover quicker and small businesses are less likely to go under.  By offering support, businesses demonstrate responsible business in action and ensure the ongoing prosperity of the communities in which they operate.

Headlines from the finalists for BITC's Responsible Business Awards 2019: The Barclays Developing Resilience Awards
1. Demonstrating resilience can build momentum
The BRE’s Flood Resilient Repair House is a good example of how case study examples can help build evidence and influence stakeholders. The house proves that properties in flood risk areas can be designed to cope with the impacts of flooding, and features water-resistant insulation in the walls and membranes installed under the floor and in the walls to divert waterloo the perimeter of the room.
 
2. Businesses can continue – even in the wake of terror
In the wake of the terrorist attack at Manchester Arena, CityCo, the city centre management company for Manchester, ran free Counter-Terrorism Awareness Business Training session for all companies in the region. A number of local firms had issues getting back into their properties, so the organisation provided them with remote working space at its offices on the day after the attack.
 
3. Small businesses need more help than most
Small businesses are often run by people who are vulnerable to disasters. They rarely have a plan in place should the worst happen, affecting their staff, suppliers, customers, friends and family. Within 24 hours of disaster striking – perhaps a fire or flood – First Recovery’s Emergency Disaster Recovery service enables staff to be relocated to one of its more than 500 standby offices around the UK for one month.
 
4. Small business collapse can disrupt supply chains
With up to 80% of companies failing to reopen following a disaster, according to AXA Insurance, the loss of a small business can often affect a larger number of people than just the business owner. Clients are lost, staff can’t be paid and suppliers are disrupted. Preventing this outcome by adding resilience in a smart way continues to fuel First Recovery’s growth in recent years.
 
5. Training for micro businesses is crucial
Over the past two decades, the Philippines has endured 274 natural disasters, making it the third most disaster-prone country in the world. Small businesses are often hit the hardest. According to Unilever, cash flow is a major challenge in times of disaster, with a small business having just one week to survive. By training companies in how to survive and continue their business, the company is helping micro business that find it really hard to access or afford such training.
 
6. Helping suppliers to help themselves
Unilever’s work in the Philippines also includes giving local people the tools to facilitate the training beyond the life of its pilot programme. The training helps small business owners – many of which are suppliers to Unilever – to first identify the key risks and challenges it may face in the immediate aftermath of a disaster, such as loss of stock or interrupted sales. Having this understanding can then help the businesses work out how to get back up and running quickly following a crisis.
 
References
1.   House of Commons Library (2018) Business Statistics https://researchbriefings.parliament.uk/ResearchBriefing/Summary/SN06152...