People or profit

Once upon a time I was at a conference listening to someone providing guidance to Public Affairs practitioners on effective crisis management. It was something I will never forget as I couldn’t believe what I was hearing.

I think I had come off the back of managing the communications around several incidents where people had been injured. One incident in particular had really impacted me due to the graphic nature in which the injuries were described to the incident management team call I was on. I remember dealing with what had to be done, but then struggling with my emotions in the wake of the incident.

Thankfully I sat next to this amazing HR colleague who counselled me through what I was experiencing. Something I’ll never forget and am always grateful for.

Back to the conference … the bit that disturbed me was an assertion that the number one focus of companies in a crisis is and should be the financial position of the company and its reputation. I just couldn’t equate that view to the focus on people and safety that the company I worked for had, and without doubt had as it’s first priority in responding.

It’s tough to disagree with a conference speaker. Particularly when they’re an expert. But it’s one of those times where there really was no other option. I looked around. I could see some of my colleagues from other industries looking uncomfortable as well. “Put your hand up” I thought to myself. “Say something”.

And so I did.

People have to be the focus. Their health and their safety really is more important than all the money in the world. And the reputation of a company will come quickly unstuck if its people are not the absolute priority.

Don’t let anyone tell you differently.

People or Profit