B:CIVIC published “Planning for Resilience: Disaster Response Toolkit” in January 2021, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. It was developed to support businesses in their efforts to effectively respond to all types of disasters and build resiliency in our community. Nearly three years later, companies and community needs have evolved. We caught up with several of the companies featured in the Strategic Disaster Response Toolkit to learn about new features to their strategies. A common thread across all companies is growing attention to social and environmental resiliency and a proactive approach.
Partnerships for Preparedness
AT&T is shifting its strategy to work with strategic partners who deliver value throughout the life cycle of disasters. In light of a shrinking employee footprint across the country, a primary benefit AT&T sees in these partnerships is the ability to be nimble. Information Technology Disaster Resource Center (ITDRC) can be provide assets to multiple affected communities.
Preparedness is often dependent on access to knowledge and other resources. AT&T collaborated with Saint Bernard Project (SBP) to develop the Equip app that provides tools, customizable checklists and information on eligible recovery funding. Users can also collaborate with others to create a preparedness or recovery plan.
Charles Schwab is invested in making a difference in local communities through its time, talent, and financial resources. In 2023, Charles Schwab Foundation joined the American Red Cross Disaster Responder Program to support disaster relief that is timely and responsive to local community needs. The American Red Cross is often one of the first responders on the scene when disaster strikes, and it’s critical that systems and supplies are in place before a disaster hits. As a participant in the Disaster Responder Program, Charles Schwab Foundation helps to ensure the American Red Cross can prepare and respond immediately wherever and whenever help is needed.
The Xcel Energy Foundation has a portion of grants earmarked for environmental sustainability. “We want to support flourishing environments and communities before a disaster hits,” said Ashly Ligouri, Corporate Giving Representative with Xcel. Xcel is investing in a community center in Minneapolis that is a trusted community convener and can share PSAs with the public in innovative ways. While working with communities in recovery, Xcel partners with anchor organizations such as the American Red Cross, rec centers and community centers who are touchpoints within the community.
Embedding Resiliency in Business Strategy
Delta Dental of Colorado (DDCO) aligns environmental and social resilience with its larger business strategy. DDCO relocated its headquarters in 2020; “We chose a location that cares,” said Andrea Miller, Director of ESG. The ownership group and management team keep a close relationship and continue to discuss sustainability—even after the construction has stopped. DDCO maintains a hybrid workplace with all employees coming in one day a week and people managers coming in three. DDCO purchases carbon offsets for one day of travel per week, as well as for natural gas and electricity use.
Community resilience is also integrated into AT&T’s business operations. During blue sky times, AT&T focuses on education, communication infrastructure and increasing access to internet in vulnerable communities. “Disasters reveal the gaps in vulnerable communities,” said Andy Bailey, Manager, AT&T Connected Learning Center Program. “The better connected a community is, the more availability they have to assets—everyday and in the case of disasters.”
AT&T’s network and operations are dependent on power—a natural connection to environmental resiliency. ITDRC has switched most of their recovery operations to solar power. The gas necessary to power generators is often difficult to access, so solar is more reliable and sustainable.
At Xcel, “We pride ourselves in not just sending a check but weaving it into our overall strategic philanthropy and giving back,” said Bonnie Gross, Manager, Social Investments. For example, employee volunteers have continued to volunteer in recovery efforts with victims of the Marshall Fire in Boulder County, Colorado. Mutual aid is further tied into Xcel’s core operations as linemen are often sent out to assist with repairs after a crisis.
As these companies demonstrate, your organization’s unique resources can be valuable in building community resiliency—before or after a disaster.