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Most executives are asleep at the helm, survey finds

By ERIC BEAUCHESNE 
The National Post - Tuesday September 27, 2006

The "majority of Canadian business leaders are operating under a false sense of security," according to the findings of a survey of how prepared firms are for the unexpected. Most executives admit they have not prepared their company to deal with a disaster, even though they consider it their responsibility to do so.  Many also fear their jobs would be on the line if their firm was caught unprepared by a disaster, such as a blackout, information technology failure or terrorist attack.

While 75% of executives feel personally responsible for their company's disaster preparedness, and a third fear losing their jobs if they failed to protect their business when a disaster struck, 72% admit to having no plan to deal with such an event, according to the survey of 520 senior executives by Leger Marketing.

"When it comes to threats posed by hackers, terrorists, or even from natural disasters like blackouts and ice storms, the majority of business execs are asleep at the helm" warns the analysis of the results of the survey conducted for Fusepoint Managed Services, and information technology services firm.

Further, among the few business executives who say their company has a disaster recovery plan, less than half of those actually have a full-blown plan in place, it says, noting 12% "don't even know" what kind of program they have.

And the proportion of executives who say the risk of a disaster striking their company has increased in the past five years, climbed to 21%, double the 10% who say such a threat has eased.

"This should be a wake-up call for all boards of directors across the country to empower their company's top executives with the resources required to ensure their business is protected from a disaster," said George Kerns, president and chief executive of  Fusepoint Managed Services.  "With the rise in terrorist threats and natural disasters including a potential outbreak of the avian flu, Canadian companies simply cannot afford to lag in disaster preparedness."

"If you fail to plan, you're going to plan to fail," he warned this week.

The findings of a separate survey of Canadian workers suggest employees lack confidence in the ability of their employers to handle a workplace disaster.  Only 28% of full-time workers are "very confident" in their company's ability to deal with a disaster.

Meanwhile, the surveys found differences among employees and their bosses on what sort of disaster poses the greatest threat. While business executives consider a man-made information technology disaster such as a virus or worm to be the greatest threat to their organizations, employees are more likely to consider a pandemic outbreak to be of great concern, 59% of whom said they would not go into work if someone in the office came down with the avian flu.

But what employees fear most depends on where they live. "Regionally, British Columbians are more concerned about natural disasters such as tornadoes or floods, Quebecers are far more likely to worry about a fire or burglary, while Ontarians fear blackouts most.".

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