It is hard to put into words the impact the global pandemic is having on our lives: no part of our economy, society or private lives have been untouched. And Airmic is no exception. The past few weeks and months have tested our own crisis management and business continuity plans like never before.
One message that has emerged loud and clear for organisations of all sizes, is the importance of communication. I would therefore like to take this opportunity to share with you, our members, how your association has responded to the pandemic and how we are changing for the future.
Our number one priority has been, and continues to be, the safety of our people – both those in our team and in the wider community we serve. This goes beyond keeping people safe from the virus. No crisis plan could possibly account for the many and varied ways the lockdown has impacted individual lives, and supporting wellness in a broader sense, including mental health, has been an important focus.
I am pleased to say that one of our biggest challenges – how to operate virtually – has become our biggest opportunity from this crisis. We moved swiftly to transform Airmic into a virtual association, starting with our FastTrack Forum in March which we live streamed. Academies, meetings and social events are all operating digitally and I have been delighted by the positive response of our members to virtual networking and learning.
We have seen record attendance at our online events and we have reached new audiences around the UK and beyond. It has become clear that what started off as an operational necessity has accelerated exciting digital change for the future.
On a personal note, the biggest disappointment was having to cancel our annual conference in Edinburgh which was due to take place this month. This is usually the annual highlight not just for the Airmic team, but the risk community as a whole. I appreciate that a huge amount of time and effort had gone into the planning and I’ve been truly grateful for the support we’ve received from our members, partners and community.
The most exciting development to emerge from the crisis has undoubtedly been Airmic Fest – our first ever three-day virtual conference which will be held in September. It has been inspired by our members’ and partners’ fantastic adoption of virtual learning and networking, and it is shaping up to be new, bold and innovative. Planning is in full flow and we will share more details next month.
The crisis is only at the beginning but it’s important to learn and reflect on the lessons as you go. It is clear that the world won’t go back to the way it was, and neither will Airmic. How the world does business has changed fundamentally in a very short space of time. We look forward to the day when face-to-face meetings can resume but we also recognise that the post-coronavirus world will be very different.
While physical events and networking will remain an important part of Airmic’s offering, we are working hard to capture the lessons we are learning and how the digital experience can continue to form part of the Airmic experience.
The significance of the last few weeks extends beyond the pandemic. We have heard and felt the recent pain across the world in response to the tragic death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. It has shone a light on truths that we as a society already knew but have failed to address. Discrimination – racial and other forms – is complex and nuanced, and there is no easy answer.
What is clear, though, is a lack of action – by individuals, organisations, governments and societies – has led to where we are today. At Airmic we have set up a working group to better understand the issues associated with racial discrimination in organisations and what role risk managers can take in supporting their companies’ efforts to promote diversity and inclusion generally and racial discrimination specifically.
As Airmic adapts to the monumental changes occurring around us today, it is important that we do more to enable our members to help drive cultural change within the context of their roles and the missions of their businesses.
These are turbulent and challenging times, but history shows us that the greater the disruption, the greater the level of innovation. Fundamental change is happening and we are only at the beginning. One thing that won’t change is that Airmic’s core purpose is to support you, our members. I would love to hear your feedback as we respond, learn and adapt for the future.
John Ludlow, CEO