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Climate adaptation measures and our BCM approach - a user perspective
Dentons is a global law firm driven to provide clients a competitive edge in an increasingly complex and interconnected world. A top 20 firm on the Acritas 2013 Global Elite Brand Index, Dentons' clients benefit from approximately 2,600 lawyers and professionals in more than 75 locations spanning 50-plus countries across Africa, Asia Pacific, Canada, Central Asia, Europe, the Middle East, Russia and the CIS, the UK and the US.
The Firm serves the local, regional and global needs of a broad spectrum of clients, including private and public corporations; governments and government agencies; small businesses and start-ups; entrepreneurs; and individuals.
The legal industry is changing rapidly and Dentons is compelled to challenge the status quo in delivering consistent and uncompromising quality and value to its clients in new and innovative ways.
Dentons commenced its development of BC planning in the UK in March 2009 after the impacts of a variety of incidents including impacts from 7/7, power failure, snow days and floods.
They achieved BS25999 Certification in March 2010 and upgraded this to the ISO 22301:2012 standard in February 2013. Dentons were the first law firm in the world to achieve this.
Business Continuity is now an essential part of Dentons' global planning and risk management and is firmly embedded in the operating culture.
Awareness of Climate and extreme weather effects
The direct impact on the firm from Climate-related incidents, e.g. ash cloud, storms and snow days, and information gained from Continuity Forum workshops motivated Dentons to start thinking about the importance of climate adaptation in its Business Continuity Management (BCM) programme.
How climate adaptation measures affected Dentons - their BCM approach
Business Continuity professionals could be said to be in a unique position within most organisations. It is their job to maintain business processes in the event of an incident and assess what events or incidents could cause disruption.
Based on recent experience, and considerable scientific evidence, it is clear that extreme weather is going to be more frequent and severe. Consequently it is important to look at how Dentons' operations are likely to be affected by climate change. Measures are in place already, and these are tested on a regular basis, but it is vital that planning keeps pace with the risks the Firm is likely to face in the coming years across all business operations around the world.
The BCM programme gives the opportunity to engage with our key personnel across the Firm and discuss not only how weather events seen in the UK, North America and elsewhere have affected operations, but how they can inform how the Firm's plans and capabilities could be improved globally.
In practice this is not really any different from the usual review process, though, by using more reliable data and examining how extreme weather actually could impact the Firm's business, we have the ability to effectively and accurately predict the financial and operational consequences.
It is particularly important that the Firm looks at how climate is changing and at the increased levels of risk the Firm is likely to be facing. As a result it makes sense to reassess some of the planning in light of the long-term trends likely to occur.
Better understanding of how climate change is affecting the frequency and severity of extreme weather is likely to improve the return on investment decisions we may need to make. It will help us to build overall resilience to extreme weather and will link in with our ISO14001 and other environmental initiatives already achieved (e.g. energy burn).
When it comes to the impact of extreme weather events, effects can range from the negligible to the disastrous. Dentons' clients require the Firm to be resilient and maintain effective service delivery consistently. The firm's delivery of services to its clients is at the heart of Dentons' BCM programme. Clients expect us to be there when they need us. By having developed plans to circumvent the effects of climate events and extreme weather we can maintain client trust. Not having planned for such disruptions or incidents would suggest a lack of commitment.
BCM is also about people. We have a global network of thousands working around the world and the need for BCM is intrinsic to enable these professionals to undertake their work when there are incidents. This kind of global exposure to weather risk really helps focus the mind. Through its BCM work the Firm can define the right balance of measures and maintain financial returns locally and globally. BCM helps our staff cope when confronted with the challenges presented by an incident.
Comments on the climate adaptation guidance
As members of the Continuity Forum we participated in a number of workshops looking at climate risk, adaptation and extreme weather. These showed how best to address the issues, and led to a number of recommendations being submitted to the Environment Agency, resulting in the publication of the Smart Guide "Adapting to Climate Change" using a BCM system.
The Smart Guide provides a roadmap based on ISO 22301:2012 that enables BCM professionals to review, assess and update their BCM programmes using best practice methods.
It can be used on its own, though it has been designed to plug into ISO’s Business Continuity Standard. It uses the ISO framework to help integration.
Throughout the guidance it takes a business approach and provides the steps needed to identify how best to adapt BCM planning.
The Smart Guide provides "thinking points", identifies credible sources for information and further reading, along with a few template examples.
We would like to thank and congratulate Katherine Corbishley and the whole team at Dentons involved in the project. By applying the Smart Guide advice at Dentons - you are all creating positive change!