LP Magazine

MAR-APR 2019

LP magazine publishes articles for loss prevention, asset protection, and retail professionals covering shrinkage, investigations, shoplifting, internal theft, fraud, technology, best practices, and career development.

Issue link: http://digital.lpportal.com/i/1096225

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Page 24 of 76

Safety As noted at the outset, employee safety sits atop most LP leaders' list of international priorities and as a cause for concern. Disease outbreak, terrorist activity, worker uprisings—LP leaders regular contend with myriad real and potential risks to workers around the globe. Are retailers prepared to meet those risks? According to Matthew P. Branigan, CEO of Watermark Risk Management International, "levels of preparedness vary widely." A typical blind spot that his firm sees is the failure of companies to fully understand the complexity of security in an international context and to appreciate the full universe of threats. "Many companies inventory threats and prepare to mitigate them, never realizing internal biases may prevent them from identifying all or even most of their critical threats," said Branigan. "There needs to be greater awareness of the need to prepare to respond to any threat, or any incident, at any time—by developing a preparedness and response program that is 'threat agnostic.'" With Gap's extensive global footprint, enabling safe travel is a top priority for Debbie Maples. She noted some of the questions that she thinks LP departments need to ask: "How do we protect them? How do we meet our duty of care? How do we make sure people have a grasp of what the concerns are?" While Gap has a particularly mature travel safety program, it's an area in which she sees, from her position on the Retail Industry Leader Association's advisory council, that the industry still has room for improvement. But still-maturing programs have new advocates on their side, Maples said: traveling employees themselves. Today's workers have started to be more proactive about their own safety and increasingly interested in learning about the risks they face abroad, she said. Global risk information is critical, added Siemers, for both intelligence and to adjust security as needed, as well as understanding when threats are being embellished. Also critical are relationships with global partners that can provide assistance to employees in a medical emergency, an evacuation, and other emergencies, he said. His team focuses extensively on gathering and analyzing risk information and automatically generating relevant safety and health information to traveling employees. He even flew out to Korea to meet with US embassy representatives at the height of the Twitter war between President Trump and North Korea's "Little Rocket Man" to get a realistic understanding of the nature of the threat. Risk analysis needs to be dynamic to be effective, added International SOS's Matthew Bradley. He suggested that a country's risk level isn't stagnant and may be drastically different in the weeks following an election, for example. "It's not just where employees are traveling that's important—but also when," he said. Bradley added that mobile phone apps designed for use by traveling employees provide a critical avenue for delivering safety information, providing updates, issuing alerts, and facilitating safety check-ins. "Driving all travel risk management from the same app is the way the solution is going today," he said. On most any day, American Eagle will have at least twenty employees traveling to remote parts of the globe, as they look for chances to enhance global operations or scout out emerging garment factories. McBride said that it is the top responsibility of the LP team to know exactly where those employees are and to help keep them safe, making those new business opportunities possible. "We work to stay ahead, studying emerging markets to have a pulse on what the geopolitical risks are, what the societal risks are, and what employees need to know to travel safely to those countries." Often, that means aligning security with business contingencies. If a trade war with China escalates and pushes manufacturing elsewhere, for example, where is it likely to go? "We're constantly networking within the organization and keeping up with sourcing teams," said McBride. "So we know that if something goes down where the volume will move and where people will be traveling to." Although globalization has leveled off in recent years, as retailers focus on improving existing operations and e-commerce, operating outside one's home country is commonplace. Among the 250 top retailers, 66.8 percent have foreign operations, which account for 23 percent of total retail revenue on average, according to a report by Deloitte, Global Powers of Retailing 2018. Among the eighty retailers from the US in the top 250, 59 percent have stores abroad. On average, they are in more than nine different countries. Whether it's protecting company personnel or addressing any of the other challenges described above, LP is clearly on the front lines of enabling global opportunity. Indeed, as retailers scramble to capitalize on globalization, the ability of LP teams to help their company navigate risks has been proving to be a bottom-line asset. For LP leaders who face the prospect of expanding into a new region internationally, the question of how to find people locally who can lead the effort has no easy answer. There are no shortcuts to establishing a program where you've never had a presence, and recruiting and retaining the talent to do it, say LP leaders. Matthew P. Branigan continued from page 22 24 MARCH–APRIL 2019 | LOSSPREVENTIONMEDIA.COM MAKING A WORLD OF DIFFERENCE

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