The department has launched Ready Business, an extension of Homeland Security's Ready campaign, which has helped millions of individuals and families prepare for emergencies. The new initiative, which was developed in partnership with the Advertising Council and a variety of business organizations, focuses on business preparedness. Ready Business will help owners and managers of small- to medium-sized businesses prepare their employees, operations and assets in the event of an emergency.
"The terrorist attacks of 9-11 and more recently hurricanes Charley, Frances and Ivan showed that disastrous events can paralyze business operations," said Tom Ridge, secretary of Homeland Security. "Ready Business was created to help encourage every business to develop an emergency plan, thereby making our nation and our economy more secure."
An emergency preparedness plan can greatly improve the likelihood that a company will survive and recover from all emergencies, natural disasters or terrorist attacks, but, too few businesses are taking the necessary steps to prepare, said Ridge. One of the key findings of the 9-11 Commission report was the need for the private sector to prepare for potential disasters. "If all businesses are prepared to survive and recover, the nation and our economy are more secure," said Andrew Howell, vice president, Homeland Security, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which hosted the launch of the campaign. "Having an emergency plan can help protect a company's operations, assets and employees."
Ready Business, is designed to make emergency planning easier. The Ready Business Web site at www.ready.gov provides businesses with practical steps and easy-to-use templates to help them:
- Plan to stay in business
- Talk to their employees
- Protect their investment
The Business Roundtable applauded the Ready Business initiative. The roundtable, comprised of CEOs of 150 companies with more than 10 million U.S. employees, worked with Homeland Security and other business groups in the development of the Ready Business initiative.
"The private sector owns more than 85 percent of the nation's critical infrastructure, and business preparedness is essential to response and recovery," said John J. Castellani, president of the Business Roundtable. "Companies of all sizes should benefit from best practices and suggestions that will help us in our common goal of protecting our employees, our customers, our facilities and our communities."
A recent roundtable CEO survey shows that member companies have been strengthening physical and cyber security, increasing investments in security improvements, and improving crisis communications and emergency response plans. CEOs are personally focusing more attention on security, and more than half of companies have made security a board-level issue.
"While roundtable companies continue to undertake steps to improve preparedness, we are committed to working with the smaller companies that are part of our supply chain," Castellani said. "Helping these companies improve their preparedness for a disaster or an attack is essential for keeping our nation's economic engine running following an incident."