Canadian Lawyer InHouse

August/September 2020

Legal news and trends for Canadian in-house counsel and c-suite executives

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Page 24 of 43 23 understanding risks that may arise, so increased communication is certainly a method that we're using. We've implemented targeted education and supporting guidance tools and new contract templates in some instances to support our team members. Harrs: Prior to COVID, we had taken our 131 global risks and narrowed it down to 17 priority risks. These are the ones that we hoped to try and mitigate to a desired level of risk. After COVID hit, it doubled to 32, so we had identified quite a few additional risks. The basic one is growth. Risk is our failure to meet growth because of the economy when consumers are not going to stores, stores are shutting down and there is the disruption of the supply chain. Foreign exchange rates are being affected by COVID-19. A lot of retailers are out of business and asking for extension of credit terms during the crisis. Then there is the whole issue of employee engagement. When we have all these people working from home, how do we ensure that they're working well and they're collaborating and they're engaged? Employee engagement is a huge, huge risk. Obviously, there is the issue of cybersecurity now that they're working from home, so we're making sure we have the requi- site security measures in place. Those are just a few of the risks, but even within those categories, there's a ton of other factors that are risks caused by COVID-19. It's really the greatest single risk factor that's arisen in my working lifetime for sure. Evans: Like other businesses, we were forced to change the way we operate in a very short period. It's a very unsettling time and there's a lot of worry and concern expressed by employees about their own safety. I think you've probably all heard in the news about the PPE shortages that existed, so we weren't actually able to plan in exactly the way that we wanted to in terms of addressing staff concerns and needs. We had teams deployed to figure out how to safely move people to the home environment where that made sense and another team of people who were working to ensure that people could come into the hospital and continue to provide safe care to patients. All the while the government is doing its best to manage the crisis for the province and in so doing it is putting incredible pressure on the hospital sector to do things differently and to do things that we don't normally do. It's all fine and well for the government to be saying, "Hospitals, you need to go and do all these things," but, at the end of the day, the buck stops with us. In the event of any issues with our staff or our patients, it will be the hospital corporation that's on the hook. It's a challenging environment, but I think we are taking on an incredible amount of risk in order to do our part to stem the tide and I think that, from the CEO of the hospital down through all levels, the question is constantly: "Is this what's best for the patients?" And if it is what's best for the patients, we find a way to manage the risk and to make sure that our staff are safe while so doing. Lawal: In all of the things that Interac is being asked to do — not just by government but also from industry organizations and by our issuers and our acquirers — all of it is in the vein of making things easier and better for the public, but there's just an entire network that needs to be activated for some of these things to take effect. I think it falls to the legal depart- ment to support a lot of that, but the organiza- tion as a whole is being called upon as lots of industries are to do what they can. INHOUSE: How is risk management formalized in your organization? Is there an executive committee with which you're involved? Harrs: We have an enterprise risk manage- ment committee with around 30 people from different areas of the organization. They meet every couple of months to discuss and assess the risks. It's not only about identifying the risks but assigning an inherent risk factor to it. In other words, how likely is it to happen and how dangerous is it? It's about assessing the financial impact. So, in other words, what's the residual risk? As an example, the inherent risk might be when your retailers don't pay and that's a high risk because that's what we live off. We live off Walmart and Target and Toys"R"Us and Amazon paying their bills and, if they were to stop paying, that's a huge financial risk. But what is our mitigation strategy? Well, we have receivables insurance. And so, when Toys"R"Us went bankrupt, for example, we had insurance covering those receivables. Evans: We start at the board of trustees at SickKids as far as risk is concerned. As a management team, we need to answer three fundamental questions for the board and keep them apprised. And those questions are: What are the key risks to the hospital? What are we "Interac is very much based on trust, and these are pillars that are closely identified with us, so we are vigilant when it comes to reputational risks." Kikelomo Lawal, Interac Corp.

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