Risk Insider: Quin Rodriguez

How Vendor Risk Management Affects Your Brand

By: | March 23, 2018 • 3 min read
Quin is Vice President, Strategy, for Riskonnect. He is responsible for leading Riskonnect's vision to drive growth and engagement in the Integrated Risk Management market. Quin has 18+ years of Executive Sales Management and Leadership experience.

There are a lot of famous quotes about people being judged by the company they keep. These quotes ring particularly true for businesses who, until recently, could largely partner with vendors without any scrutiny.

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But those days are over. Thanks to the demand for transparency from today’s consumers, people now consider a company’s social consciousness and action when determining brand perception. The proverbial company that businesses keep, including their vendors, is now a large part of their overall brand image.

Companies no longer have the luxury of the blame game when it comes to their vendors/suppliers. Instead, today’s economy squarely places the blame on the parent brand.

For example, if a consumer finds out your electronics company uses parts shipped from a warehouse that employs underage workers, they will take their business elsewhere, but not before broadcasting this information over social media. Likewise, if you outsource your cyber security and experience a security breach, your brand is front and center, not your outsourced vendor.

How to Protect Your Brand

As these vendor risks abound, what steps can you take to protect your brand? Three common practices I recommend are regularly conducting vendor evaluations to understand your exposure, developing proactive vendor risk practices to address risks as they arise and looking beyond your vendors to understand their suppliers.

When selecting your vendors, it is important to be vigilant in the vetting process, ensuring potential vendors align with your company’s mission, values and standards. Once selected, actively monitor your vendor practices to ensure they remain compliant and accountable.

Staying ahead of risks means understanding how worldly changes affects your vendor practices, including political leadership and government regulation changes.

Companies no longer have the luxury of the blame game when it comes to their vendors/suppliers. Instead, today’s economy squarely places the blame on the parent brand.

Being proactive is the key to understanding and mitigating vendor risks before they snowball into larger issues. Your risk management team should take note of common vendor issues and develop strategies to proactively combat these issues.

One recommendation is to follow competitor and industry news to identify vendor risks and develop strategies to address these risks. While these risks may not be currently affecting you, having a plan established and learning from your competition will help ensure you are ready to address any situations that arise.

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While it is easy to just look at your direct vendors/suppliers, having a true vision of your vendor risk requires you to dig deeper. Actively examine and monitor your third, fourth, fifth and even sixth-party vendors to understand their practices.

While this may initially seem excessive, when these vendors advance into a crisis, customers will extend the blame to all involved parties. The major brand will catch most, if not all, of the heat regardless of how much insight they had into the issue.

When it comes to vendor risk management, the biggest brand name is bound to face the most scrutiny. While companies may choose to finger-point to their vendors, at the end of the day, they, not their vendors, remain the face of the issue.

It’s all about the company you keep. Thus, brands must bring vendor risk management to the forefront of their initiatives to ensure they are actively monitoring and managing their key partners.

More from Risk & Insurance

More from Risk & Insurance

4 Companies That Rocked It by Treating Injured Workers as Equals; Not Adversaries

The 2018 Teddy Award winners built their programs around people, not claims, and offer proof that a worker-centric approach is a smarter way to operate.
By: | October 30, 2018 • 3 min read

Across the workers’ compensation industry, the concept of a worker advocacy model has been around for a while, but has only seen notable adoption in recent years.

Even among those not adopting a formal advocacy approach, mindsets are shifting. Formerly claims-centric programs are becoming worker-centric and it’s a win all around: better outcomes; greater productivity; safer, healthier employees and a stronger bottom line.

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That’s what you’ll see in this month’s issue of Risk & Insurance® when you read the profiles of the four recipients of the 2018 Theodore Roosevelt Workers’ Compensation and Disability Management Award, sponsored by PMA Companies. These four programs put workers front and center in everything they do.

“We were focused on building up a program with an eye on our partner experience. Cost was at the bottom of the list. Doing a better job by our partners was at the top,” said Steve Legg, director of risk management for Starbucks.

Starbucks put claims reporting in the hands of its partners, an exemplary act of trust. The coffee company also put itself in workers’ shoes to identify and remove points of friction.

That led to a call center run by Starbucks’ TPA and a dedicated telephonic case management team so that partners can speak to a live person without the frustration of ‘phone tag’ and unanswered questions.

“We were focused on building up a program with an eye on our partner experience. Cost was at the bottom of the list. Doing a better job by our partners was at the top.” — Steve Legg, director of risk management, Starbucks

Starbucks also implemented direct deposit for lost-time pay, eliminating stressful wait times for injured partners, and allowing them to focus on healing.

For Starbucks, as for all of the 2018 Teddy Award winners, the approach is netting measurable results. With higher partner satisfaction, it has seen a 50 percent decrease in litigation.

Teddy winner Main Line Health (MLH) adopted worker advocacy in a way that goes far beyond claims.

Employees who identify and report safety hazards can take credit for their actions by sending out a formal “Employee Safety Message” to nearly 11,000 mailboxes across the organization.

“The recognition is pretty cool,” said Steve Besack, system director, claims management and workers’ compensation for the health system.

MLH also takes a non-adversarial approach to workers with repeat injuries, seeing them as a resource for identifying areas of improvement.

“When you look at ‘repeat offenders’ in an unconventional way, they’re a great asset to the program, not a liability,” said Mike Miller, manager, workers’ compensation and employee safety for MLH.

Teddy winner Monmouth County, N.J. utilizes high-tech motion capture technology to reduce the chance of placing new hires in jobs that are likely to hurt them.

Monmouth County also adopted numerous wellness initiatives that help workers manage their weight and improve their wellbeing overall.

“You should see the looks on their faces when their cholesterol is down, they’ve lost weight and their blood sugar is better. We’ve had people lose 30 and 40 pounds,” said William McGuane, the county’s manager of benefits and workers’ compensation.

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Do these sound like minor program elements? The math says otherwise: Claims severity has plunged from $5.5 million in 2009 to $1.3 million in 2017.

At the University of Pennsylvania, putting workers first means getting out from behind the desk and finding out what each one of them is tasked with, day in, day out — and looking for ways to make each of those tasks safer.

Regular observations across the sprawling campus have resulted in a phenomenal number of process and equipment changes that seem simple on their own, but in combination have created a substantially safer, healthier campus and improved employee morale.

UPenn’s workers’ comp costs, in the seven-digit figures in 2009, have been virtually cut in half.

Risk & Insurance® is proud to honor the work of these four organizations. We hope their stories inspire other organizations to be true partners with the employees they depend on. &

Michelle Kerr is associate editor of Risk & Insurance. She can be reached at [email protected]