The 2022 Global Safety and Security Study is a survey of security and human resources professionals among the largest U.S. companies by employees, commissioned by Global Guardian. The study reveals which safety and security threats companies face in the current climate and measures satisfaction with, and effectiveness of, their current duty of care providers and practices.
The world is less peaceful and more prone to disruption today than it was three years ago. Corporate enterprise leaders are increasingly concerned about the growing volume of real-time domestic and international threats putting their operations, assets, and employees at risk. As companies resume normal operations and travel increases in the wake of a receding COVID-19 pandemic, additional threat vectors—including a surge in violent crime, increase in ransomware, and growing intensity of natural disasters—are emerging in the cyber and physical security domains. The urgent need to re-evaluate internal strategies, contingency plans, and current protections is growing among the country’s largest corporations.
Around the world, geopolitical events and regional conflicts continue to cause major disruptions for companies and organizations with a global presence. These events involving global powers not only highlight kinetic warfare as a threat vector but also the residual effects of conflict. The war in Ukraine is already causing major disruptions to agricultural production and Trans-Atlantic supply chains; a conflict in Taiwan would create similar disruptions - likely to an even greater degree - by threatening the lives of thousands of U.S. employees based in the Indo- Pacific and the hundreds of billions of dollars in trade and investment that flows through the region each year.
It is the primary responsibility of physical security, cybersecurity, and human resources leaders to ensure that corporate executives, employees, operations, assets, and customers are protected against threats. That protection also entails delivering robust and comprehensive duty of care services related to safety, security, and travel. To that effect, Global Guardian wanted to understand what the leaders in our economy, the largest U.S.-based corporations – those with 10,000 or more employees – are concerned about when it comes to protecting their enterprise. We commissioned a study of their outlook on global safety and security, and the findings confirm what our security experts have advised: that the current and future environment is one of high alert for large and multinational businesses.
About two-thirds of security and human resources professionals surveyed said that the number of security threats facing their companies and employees, including safety and medical risks, have increased in the last three years. Additionally, over the next three years, most of these executives expect major global threats to be more disruptive or at least on par with today, an already heightened level of risk.
Almost all of the professionals surveyed believe their company has sufficient crisis response plans in place to respond to current threats. At the same time, most companies have expanded their security budget in the past year, with many citing the need to address anticipated new risks as part of their decision. For enterprise leaders responsible for protecting companies, an increase in security or duty of care budgets reflects growing concerns and a recognition that what has been successful in the past may no longer be adequate in this more layered and complex threat landscape.
"...an increase in security or duty of care budgets reflects growing concerns and a recognition that what has been successful in the past may no longer be adequate in this more layered and complex threat landscape."
Despite companies and enterprise leaders indicating a high degree of confidence in their internal crisis response plans, there remains a significant gap in preparedness. A majority of companies needed to enlist help from additional duty of care providers to address their most recent crisis. Concurrently, the number of companies that expressed a high level of satisfaction toward their provider during their most recent crisis was lower than expected, implying that the coverage of their current crisis response structure may not be as sufficient as initially perceived.
The relationship between companies and their duty of care providers is becoming more complex as the threat landscape expands. In many instances, companies are working with three or four providers who are assessing and responding to the same threats independently of each other. That combination may be producing redundancy and holes in duty of care coverage, in turn becoming less effective in addressing companies’ duty of care obligation.
This gap between confidence and preparedness will likely remain an issue that affects the ability of companies to deliver effective duty of care services for their employees. It also suggests that merely increasing security budgets may not be adequate without consideration of specific factors such as communication plans and employee training.
Less than half of enterprise leaders, for example, believe that most of their employees would know what to do if they were to encounter an emergency while traveling. Duty of care services impact a variety of touchpoints within a company’s overall architecture, but people are the most important asset and priority to protect. With an ever-changing threat landscape, protecting employees through effective emergency response along with tracking and monitoring remain the most appreciated features in the duty of care domain.
"Duty of care services impact a variety of touchpoints within a company’s overall architecture, but people are the most important asset and priority to protect. With an ever-changing threat landscape, protecting employees through effective emergency response along with tracking and monitoring remain the most appreciated features in the duty of care domain."
As the volume of real-time threats not only increases but affects a larger number of touchpoints within companies and organizations, the ability to provide comprehensive duty of care services will continue to grow. How companies respond will not just fall on security and human resources professionals; CEOs, CFOs, COOs and other executives will be more involved in the decision-making process and will need to determine how security programs and budgets are implemented across their enterprise. These challenges bring crucial opportunities for companies and leaders to identify gaps in their preparedness and build responses that ensure resilience against threats to their operations and employees.