Who's Protecting America's Small Business?

Too often, the 'engine' of the U.S. economy remains vulnerable

By using a "face-to-face" approach, the LA COPS Bureau deputies remove a barrier that formed over time between law enforcement and the neighborhoods they patrol. COPS deputies work alongside community stakeholders to gain their trust and learn about a variety of issues concerning the neighborhood and its businesses.

Business Improvement Districts. Self-imposed tax zones, in which businesses pay a fee to help fund community improvements, offer another opportunity for small businesses to leverage pooled resources for improved safety and security. Downtown Improvement Districts in cities like Atlanta and Philadelphia have enacted measurable security results by doing such things as deploying uniformed ambassadors, launching targeted security strategies, holding events and beautifying the area to deter crime. All of this assists local small business.

Corporate Responsibility

Francis D'Addario, formerly vice president of partner and asset protection at Starbucks Coffee Company, sees a corporate responsibility for large companies that includes ethical conduct tied inextricably to strategic performance. That "care culture" can help to mitigate risk for people, products and processes up and down the supply chain, including small businesses. Results of such an approach include higher stakeholder engagement, consumer confidence, as well as quality and earnings assurance.

Now a member of the faculty of the Security Executive Council, D'Addarrio recalls applying the principles of corporate responsibility throughout the supply chain during his tenure at Starbucks. "The health and safety of coffee and tea buyers are strategically essential to Starbucks," he said. "These clients arguably represented the finest palates, agronomy and logistics talent in the world." Starbucks was looking at growth from 4 to 44 percent in the use of the world's highest quality Arabica coffee in five years, and focused on security of the supply chain as a corporate priority.

"Buyers are emissaries to the farmers for Coffee and Farmer Equity (C.A.F.E.) practices," D'Addario explains in his book, Not a Moment to Lose...Influencing Global Security One Community at a Time. "They provide resources to incrementally improve the agronomy, crop quality and community with transparent premium pricing tied to performance objectives. Consumer confidence for 5 million customer transactions per week depends on the safe transport of buyers and products around the globe. The benefits of security investment play up and down the supply chain from the farmer to the cooperative, roaster, distributor and retailer. World-class beverage quality is both the end and means to enable protection. It affords livelihoods for several hundred thousand stakeholders."

Better Approaches Needed

A problem with small business security approaches to date is a lack of scalability. Ideas abound throughout the various government programs and public-private partnerships, but unfortunately a vast percentage of small businesses have been touched by neither. Lacking are both a means of raising awareness among small business of the strategic importance of security and a means of making widespread resources available to boost the security of this critical strategic component of the U.S. economy.

There is a real risk that the nation's gap in small business security, like many security problems, will not be addressed until it is too late. In today's media-driven culture, a single random attack on a small business could cause widespread panic that could undermine the nation's economy.

The Security Executive Council is conducting research to identify security solutions and strategies for small business. We are encouraging input and looking for stories of small business security success. Please share your ideas by emailing contact@secleader.com.

Bob Hayes is Managing Director of the Security Executive Council. He has more than 25 years of experience in security, including eight years as the CSO at Georgia Pacific and nine years as security operations manager at 3M. The Council works with Tier 1 Security Leaders to reduce risk and add to corporate profitability in the process. It serves all aspects of the security community through its pioneering Collective Knowledge approach. A faculty of more than 100 experienced security executives provides strategy, insight and proven practices that cannot be found anywhere else. To learn about becoming involved, e-mail contact@secleader.com or visit www.securityexecutivecouncil.com/?sourceCode=std.