Last week, while Hurricane Sandy continued to cause devastation across America’s east coast and floods in New York City had yet to subside, images of the Goldman Sachs building lit up against a dark skyline (see above) was shared across social media. While this beacon of light was testament to their rock-solid business continuity planning and preparation, many saw it as a symbol of corporate greed and all that is wrong with modern America.
Here are a choice few reactions from the Twittersphere:
It seems they are damned if they do, damned if they don’t. There is public outcry when banks’ services fail, and there is every great pressure on financial services to be responsible for their own survival. Yet when a giant of the financial world proves its resilience they face yet another wave of opprobrium.
This highlights an important yet paradoxical aspect of business continuity management, which is perhaps unique to the financial services sector:
1. Have a crisis communications strategy in place for when your plans DO work, as well as when they don’t.
Goldman Sachs were quick to respond with a statement from spokesman David Wells: “We weren’t the only building with light, but we do have a generator. We’re not drawing power from the grid.”
Although the original version of Goldman shining amid the Manhattan black-out has surfaced (without heightened contrast and decreased brightness) shows this statement to be correct – plus the fact that Goldman are helping deliver emergency aid by encouraging residents to come to their stores in affected areas for water and charging facilities – the image of decadence amid disaster will be hard for the bank to shake off.
The lights-on-at-Goldman image also shows us another important lesson:
2. Business continuity is worth investing in.
If your business can withstand even Hurricane ‘super-storm’ Sandy, then that’s proof that your plans are robust and your people are prepared. Although with the public may see the beacon of shining like as a metaphor for inequality and injustice, I would be surprised if Goldman’s stakeholders were not impressed by their resilience and ability to keep running operations in the face of a national disaster.