Raising Awareness in Resilience

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Rina Singh is the Founder and Host of Resilience Pod and Winner of the BCI European Continuity & Resilience Contributor 2021. She is also Vice-Chair of the Business Continuity Institute Women in Resilience Group and Resilience Manager by day for UK’s largest Infrastructure company in an award-winning team.

She was interviewed by PANTA RAY’s Head of Research and Intelligence, Gianluca Riglietti.

Gianluca: Could you tell us about your podcast and the ideas behind it?

Rina: The podcast is called RESILEINCEPOD. It is your multi-media pod full of unapologetic blogs, podcasts and videos unmasking the many facades of the resilience industry. Inspiring, raising awareness and helping you invest in your resilience in our world full of disruptions.

Because the world is becoming turbulent faster, organizations and individuals are becoming more resilient. Each episode brings to you discussions with influential resilience industry leaders from around the world, working in all realms of this field including – but not limited to – Risk Management, Business Continuity, Emergency Planning/Incident Management, Cyber, IT/Disaster Recovery, Crisis Management and Crisis Communications.

Whilst these disciplines help organizations prepare, protect, respond and recover from disruptive events, people are a key factor. You will therefore see content on the personal side of resilience. This will feature stories from people who have overcome adversity in their own lives and adopted a growth mindset to become resilient. The podcast also covers insights with those working in complementary disciplines such as HR, Wellbeing, Coaching/Positive psychology industries and more. Why? Because Resilience is everyone’s responsibility.

Gianluca: Do you think the resilience community is doing enough to reach out to other fields? How can we get out of our bubble?

Rina: We are trying but we are not there yet.  It is important to highlight the levels of constraints we face. For example, there are wider resource constraints and budgetary constraints. Also, we should not forget that there is only so much one person can do. So, whilst we might want to integrate with other disciplines, organizational histories of siloed working are still prevalent.

To overcome this, we need to truly understand the resilience landscape of our business. We need to educate our staff about what resilience means, identify who is involved in resilience activities (the teams such as Risk, BCM etc.), and where and how the boundaries cross over. Then we need to understand who and how those complementary disciplines can work together. For example, our legal team helping with Crisis Communication Plans.

It’s a difficult undertaking trying to understand the resilience landscape of your business, especially when these disciplines are dispersed thoughtout the business. I know because I have taken on such a project. The key to success in this is taking a step back and thinking in a more strategic way even when working at a more operational level.  If you can do this whilst making it easy to understand for all your staff and using that as an awareness piece you have already started getting out of that bubble.

Gianluca: How can we make organizational resilience more popular?

Rina:  Resilient organizations generally use very progressive and flexible strategies, and that is the key. You must leverage sales techniques to promote progressive thinking and creativity. Being flexible in the way you approach your job is so important because if you’re very rigid you might hinder value-creation and creativity. Being innovative is the key to that.

Gianluca: Should we change the narrative around organizational resilience to reach a wider audience?

Rina: Absolutely we should. We have a habit of over-complicating the language unnecessarily, we need to make it accessible for everyone.

I once sat in a room trying to plan an internal resilience road show with key stakeholders involved in the resilience disciplines. An hour into the meeting, everyone admitted they were not sure what each other did. If we, in our vast resilience disciplines are struggling to understand other resilience disciplines how can we expect everyone else to? Can you even explain it without using fancy words and technical jargon?

I was at the hairdresser the other day, and the lady asked me: “What do you do?”. And I said:” When something bad happens in a business, for example, you can’t finish drying my hair because the power gets cut off what will you do? I help the business plan how to get past that and continue working”. It was just a simple way and it resonated with her because it was relevant.

I want to ask those who are reading this if they have ever considered how they are communicating to the wider audience (internal and external) based on demographics such as location, ethnicity, age, language etc. This is one of the hardest parts of the job because we’re not trained in the complexities of linguistics. If you are not sure how to overcome this, link in with your internal teams/communities and consider taking a one-day report writing and communication skills course. It really does help (I have done it!).

Gianluca: What do you believe are the most relevant issues in organizational resilience right now? 

Rina: Having resilient people who can demonstrate proactive, flexible, and adaptive behaviors. All businesses need to invest in training as it enhances employee’s psychological capital and helps foster resilience. It is also key to invest in specific training to break down business politics and create effective teamwork and cognitive functioning to mitigate a crisis at all levels.

E-learning alone is not the solution because after the ten plus mandatory training modules you risk being overloaded. How often do we do consider these issues? Not enough admittedly. Time, money, politics versus being resilient.

Gianluca: How is the resilience community doing in terms of diversity and inclusion?

Rina: I love this question! The misconception is that diversity and inclusion go beyond our responsibilities, whereas in fact it is everyone’s responsibility. At some stage in our careers, we are going to be hiring teams and we will be responsible for being considerate of diversity. But be mindful of positive discrimination to just tick a box, since it is illegal in some counties, such as the UK.

An example of this is choosing a female over a male even if the male is more competent/qualified for the role and it was evident you picked the female because of gender alone.  There is a fine line in wanting a diverse team and simply breaking the law of the land. Obviously, we cannot expect all resilience professionals to be diversity and inclusion or legal experts, which is why we need to work with those departments to get that the appropriate advice.

Moving on from that, our industry events have been notorious for the lack of diversity and inclusion representation; however, we are becoming more conscious about this. Expect people to challenge you if your panel is not diverse and be prepared to say why. I hear a lot of complaints on lack of diversity and inclusion at events, but I have never seen anyone ask the organizers the question. I noticed one recently and I asked the question. I never got a response, but I asked.

Since I have been on the BCI Women in Resilience committee, where I am now vice-chair, I found that people who look like me, or are from the same background as me, message me because they’ve seen the representation.  I honestly never expected how powerful this was and is until I experienced it.

Let’s not forget Inclusion too. For example, people with disabilities. Are we including them in our emergency evacuation plans? Not just how we cater to their needs but involving them in the strategies? I have a great podcast episode on this very thing and since we can be part of this population at any point in our life, we need to be considerate of it.

Gianluca:  How does diversity help resilience teams?

Rina: Diversity helps generate a variety of opinions and perspectives within a team. For instance, if we were working on something in Italy, I’d have no idea what the culture is like. There are specific customs in different countries that you need to be aware of, especially if your customer base is global and you’re talking to different people.

You’re going to have to adjust, not only in the way you use your language and make it accessible, but in the way you deliver it and how you come across. The more diverse our teams/network is, the greater the ability to respond to change, the more we become resilient.

If you liked this article on raising awareness you might want to check this one out as well.