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Strength in numbers: why big businesses are promoting SME resilience

Business in the Community, The Prince's Responsible Network, is on a mission to improve risk awareness among communities. Harriet Walker explains why it matters and how large companies can play their part.

We all have a role to play in supporting those that are most vulnerable to society's biggest threats, including the impacts of climate change. This includes business; however, one business cannot do it alone.

Business in the Community (BITC), The Prince's Responsible Network, knows that there is strength in numbers. We bring businesses together through our membership to activate change at pace and scale.

Small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) are the backbone of the UK economy; representing 99.9% of the private sector and providing over 60% of private sector employment across the UK. The Business Emergency Resilience Group (a BITC initiative) helps small businesses to be more prepared for business disruptions such as a flood, fire or cyber attack. We believe that a responsible business is a resilient business.

The Business Emergency Resilience Group (BERG) leadership team is made up of senior representatives from business sectors, including financial services and retail as well as charities and government departments. A number of the BERG leadership team members are insurance companies. Aviva, Axis Capital and HSB Insurance, together with brokers Marsh and loss adjusters Sedgwick all collaborate to influence the national resilience debate and shape the agenda, innovating to find sustainable solutions which support small businesses and reduce the frequency and value of claims across the insurance industry.

We believe that a resilient and thriving SME sector is vital for a strong economy which in turn benefits large businesses, many of which rely on SMEs either as customers or as part of their supply chain. The BERG Leadership Team co-creates resources for small businesses to help build their capacity to prepare for, respond to and recover from business disruptions.

As part of our Would You Be Ready? campaign we ask large businesses, both members and non-members, to share these resources with their small business customers and suppliers to raise awareness of the need for robust business continuity planning. This ensures the ongoing prosperity of the communities in which large businesses operate as well as helping to reduce disruption costs and preserve and enhance brand value and reputation.

According to Jason Groves, director of communications at Marsh, who leads the Would You Be Ready? campaign: "Helping organisations manage risk is something we do every day all over the world. Being part of BERG is another part of the way we make a meaningful difference in the moments that matter."

The rationale for the campaign is that the first step in facilitating resilience in small businesses is to ensure they are aware of the risks their businesses face. Would You Be Ready? uses impactful images designed by McCann Enterprise, another BERG leadership team member, to raise the profile of common disruptions and provoke small businesses into taking action.

As well as sharing resources the campaign encourages small businesses to participate in a Readiness Test, which takes less than five minutes to complete. Participants of the Readiness Test can download a Resilience Starter Kit full of tips designed to help them on their journey to become a more resilient business. They can also opt-in to our online community to be part of an ongoing conversation about resilience.

If your company would like to get involved in our Would You Be Ready? campaign please email wouldyoubeready@bitc.org.uk. If you are interested in finding out more about BITC or the Business Emergency Resilience Group please contact hannah.tankard@bitc.org.uk or phone 020 7566 8734.

Harriet Walker is director, Business Emergency Resilience Group, part of Business in the Community (BITC), The Prince's Responsible Network.