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Who Are You?

Who Are You?

  • Denise Branco • Owner at TrackChanging (TC)

Organizations, like individuals, have their own DNA. They possess a particular set of values, a mission founded on premises which aim to achieve a specific outcome, a set of practices which guide the why and the how of operations and procedures.

In 2020, all dimensions of corporate culture and leadership were tested to extreme levels, calling for new paradigms, new models, new ways of doing things, in the hope that such contributions would motivate the change, or enhance the agility and resilience required to navigate unfamiliar circumstances.

Some failed. Some survived. Some flourished. Some were born. In 2021 the challenge resides in how each organization will materialize the experience acquired: will they seek comfort zones? Will they seek change? Or will they choose to transform?

For those looking to change and/or transform, the impact of diverging perceptions of risk might be worthy of closer attention. For those working in foreign locations with risk-related operations, a more detailed analysis of what diverse cultural risk perceptions entail requires a line of its own on any agenda.

While risk assessment and analysis has boosted the development of safety cultures to cultures for safety, the role of translation and interpretation has remained underserved as a risk mitigation tool, rendering disastrous results when organizations are left grappling for solutions in the heart of a crisis. What is to be gained or lost in a global connected world does not require too fruitful an imagination.

The pivotal role of effective, timely and accurate information and communication changed in 2020, with accuracy aligning with real-time production of knowledge. Fear, lack of trust, fake news, overall absence of risk literacy, access to the right information, at the right time, by the right person, in the right language, all played a decisive role in individual and collective behaviors. Global vulnerabilities were clearly unveiled. Cascading outcomes are yet to fully surface.

Industry has a price to pay for overlooking languages in risk, crisis and emergency communication. Who you are as an organization will dictate what you have to win or lose in the face of a multilingual crisis and emergency. Should your organization be reassessing risk communication and crisis and emergency response procedures in the aftermath of 2020, or as a result of other geopolitical and geostrategic variables, the checklist below might potentially contribute to enhance effective crisis and emergency communication planning.

1. Does your company have a language policy and does it include the local language(s)?

2. How many languages are spoken within your organization and by whom?

3. Does your company pose a risk to the surrounding communities or environment?

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4. Is your organization aware of the perception of risk within the organization and surrounding communities?

5. Is the risk being communicated capable of being conceptualized into local languages and local knowledge building systems in order to guarantee the effectiveness of the organization’s crisis and emergency communication plan?

6. Have translation and interpretation been explicitly included in the organization’s Emergency Communication Plan? Is a procedure in place? Who is in charge of guaranteeing its effectiveness and applicability?

7. Has the plan been tested?

Who are you? Does it matter? Are you prepared to rely on the surrounding community? Can the surrounding community rely on you?

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