Risk Insider: Marilyn Rivers

A Call to Arms

By: | December 23, 2014

Marilyn Rivers, CPCU, ARM, AIC, currently serves as the director of risk and safety — city safety and compliance officer for a municipality in Upstate New York and is a director at large and delegate for the government and public sector division of the National Safety Council. She can be reached at [email protected]

There is a risk management team under siege somewhere in the depths of Sony.

They are managing a new set of risks that are exploding amidst the dynamics of government, law enforcement, advertisers, accountants, and international players. Add in a president, a tyrant, some glittering movie stars and a brave new world Orwell might just have gotten right.

Generations have fought and died for our freedom. There is no question that our society fights for the right to choose, to express ourselves freely, and to hold sacred the sacrifices our countrymen have made.

Wake up Corporate America and hear the call to arms.

Their strategies often went unnoticed or were dismissed because of the costs associated with something unseen that didn’t show a profit margin.

Gone is the cold, hard steel and the gunpowder of warfare. The smoke, the fire and the sounds of battle cries have been replaced by the programming sequences of 0s and 1s. Battles these days originate in covert back rooms where the corporate death knells begin with subversives and the malware they create.

All those risk managers you called doomsayers, those who continually asked you to prepare, to invest in technology professionals to build tighter firewalls, and to build redundancy into your systems, tried their best to prepare you for this moment.

Their strategies often went unnoticed or were dismissed because of the costs associated with something unseen that didn’t show a profit margin.

Here’s to every risk professional across the country who asked management to think before they hit the send button and to remember the whole world is watching on social media.

It’s a cold reality to fathom that all the risk mitigation protocols you’ve become accustomed to may have outgrown their usefulness in the context of the unknown.

Gone are the threats of physical violence. They are now replaced by open warfare on reputation risk and … a corporation’s financial bottom line.

How exactly does one prepare and instill in management the ability to listen to the echoes of attempted break-ins we cannot hear, the damage that is unseen until it hits the web, or the backlash that occurs as you try to do the right thing with the whole world watching.

Cut Sony some slack.

Tempering the risk they faced in the glare of the spotlight required a degree of courage as they thought out loud, as they managed a monumental risk as the world watched. They are balancing profit with lives, freedom against those who are fighting hard to suppress the free speech we hold so dear, and quite frankly, a perception of reality whose tinsel has tarnished a bit over these many weeks.

The balance they have fought to achieve is one which many of us fear in the future.

It’s time to listen and to learn more about technology and how it interfaces with our daily tasks. Time to bring our technology folks out of obscurity and into the mainstream to integrate themselves into who we need to be as risk management professionals as we strive together to protect our reputation risk.

It’s time to invite your risk management and technology professionals to the party.

Read all of Marilyn Rivers’ Risk Insider contributions.

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