The Russia/Ukraine conflict was the defining security issue of 2022, highlighting how geopolitics and the threat of interstate conflict are back on the corporate risk agenda. 24 February 2023 marks one-year since the conflict began and in recognition of this milestone, International SOS shares insight into how it supported clients, key lessons learnt and how this significant geo-political conflict impacts organisations’ risk outlook.
International SOS & Ukraine
International SOS’ support for clients began before the conflict started. On 12 February 2022 International SOS advised clients to fully evacuate Ukraine and several months prior to this a team was deployed to the country to audit resources and gather information. This preparation was critical in preparing for the potential eventuality of conflict. It involved engaging with network of providers on the ground and providing information directly to clients on first-hand basis.
This ‘boots on the ground’ approach also included meeting with local clients, gathering and analysing information which included route, hotel, railway, and airport assessments. With disinformation remaining a constant challenge for many, verifying information was also part of this preparation enabling thorough, effective, and efficient planning for clients. Also ensuring critical lines of communication were fully functioning was key, particularly satellite phones and telecommunications.
Since the conflict broke out International SOS’ support has included conducting complex security and medical evacuations, advising on the security and medical situation on the ground and in the bordering countries, briefing clients’ Crisis Management Teams and providing security advice, emotional & medical support for organisations with employees who remain in Ukraine.
International SOS handled over 1,900 cases, supporting over 640 clients. It successfully completed more than 60 secure ground movements from conflict zones, moving over 170 adults, three babies and 10 pets.
Critical lessons learnedHaving dealt with the pandemic for several years numerous organisations were not prepared or equipped to navigate such a significant geo-political conflict, with many turning to International SOS for support.
Lessons learned for clients which International SOS supported include:
- The need for stronger and more robust crisis management processes and capabilities
- The ability to verify information and access to trusted, timely facts during times of crisis
- The importance of the systems and processes in place to be able to enable faster, better decision making
The corporate risk agendaThe conflict will certainly continue to have an impact in 2023, so it is beneficial for organisations to learn how to effectively handle the shifting global risk environment. It is likely that geopolitical volatility will spread beyond Russia/Ukraine in the next 12 months, as increasing fissures between Russia and the West will impact other conflicts and exacerbate longstanding geopolitical tensions.
Sally Llewellyn, Global Security Director, International SOS comments
Considering the last 12 months’ events, security has proven to be key in geo-politics and is firmly on the corporate risk agenda. Many organisations did not anticipate the scale operations needed to effectively manage the impacts of the Ukraine/ Russia conflict. As best practice organisations need robust risk mitigation strategies which should include security awareness, understanding the risk environment, thorough preparation and ensuring that they have all the tools and resources they need.
Ongoing education is key. Employees and employers need to be knowledgeable about risk and understand the steps necessary to keep their workforce as safe as possible. It is recommended that organisations consistently revisit the likelihood and possible impacts of security risks to understand potential implications for their business and people.
Managing crisis management fatigue is key in moving from ‘perma-crisis’ to crisis resilience and organisations who effectively embedded learnings from the events of the last three years, particularly, the conflict in Ukraine, will emerge with more robust capabilities to manage challenges in the future.
About the International SOS Group of CompaniesThe International SOS Group of Companies is in the business of saving lives, protecting your global workforce from health and security threats. Wherever you are, we deliver customised health, security risk management and wellbeing solutions to fuel your growth and productivity. In the event of extreme weather, an epidemic or a security incident, we provide an immediate response providing peace of mind. Our innovative technology and medical and security expertise focus on prevention, offering real-time, actionable insights and on-the-ground quality delivery. We help protect your people, your organisation's reputation, as well as support your compliance reporting needs. By partnering with us, organisations can fulfil their Duty of Care responsibilities, while empowering business resilience, continuity and sustainability.
Founded in 1985, the International SOS Group, headquartered in London & Singapore, is trusted by more than 9,000 organisations, including the majority of the Fortune 500, as well as mid-size enterprises, governments, educational institutions and NGOs. 13,000 multicultural medical, security and logistics experts stand with you to provide support & assistance from over 1,200 locations in 90 countries, 24/7, 365 days.
To protect your workforce, we are at your fingertips: www.internationalsos.com