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Doing Something HRish on September 11th

It has been a tradition at the EO List to write a blog about September 11th. The first blog we distributed to the network on the subject was on September 12, 2001. The most detailed blog was posted in 2009, and I encourage you to read it, Where Were You On September 11th.

As an American, I was/am still profoundly impacted by the events of the day. I remember thinking at the time that I didn’t want the experience to fade in my memory. For a long time it didn’t. Even today, I sometimes feel like crying when I think about how awful that all was. Time has passed though and I feel a lot further from it. I hope it stays in the American consciousness for a long time.

One thing that still stands out for me was that I was in Cedar Rapids, IA that morning. I left for work later than usual and sat at a railroad crossing for a long time, and I remember noticing that the sky was a beautiful blue without a cloud in it. I drove in with my windows open. I don’t have to reread an old blog to remember that. I also remember that I heard Kryptonite by 3 Doors Down on my way in. By the time I understood what was going on, one of the buildings had already fallen. I spent the next few days in constant communication with my husband, as we tried to determine what was the best way for me to get back to Canada. I made decisions in the weeks after that changed my own personal course of history and without question, what you see in the EO blog is rooted in the experience of being in Iowa in September 2001.

Unfortunately, it is highly likely that at some point in our future, there will be another crisis in North America. Organizations have adopted better policies to respond in the event of crisis and have placed more emphasis on employee safety, especially for those who may travel. Yet, we all get lulled by the constant state of fearmongering surrounding us all the time.

This year, I want to do something HRish and highlight the need for preparedness. Here are a few key questions I want to ask you:

  • Do you keep safety in your bucket of things to be responsible for? If yes, are you taking it seriously? If no, are you confident that someone else is?
  • Do you have employees that travel? Do you know how to reach them in an emergency? Do you have proper emergency contacts? Do you know how to arrange an alternate way home? Do you know how to direct them to a safe location? Have you employed professional services to help you?
  • Do you have overseas workers? Do you have emergency policies in those locations appropriate to the circumstances?
  • Do you have thorough safety policies that anticipate the risk of violence at or near your workplace? Do your people know how best to exit the building in a variety of circumstances? When was the last time you practiced?
  • Are the right people kept abreast of issues in the locations in which you do business?

One thing I learned from September 11th is that we can’t control what the future holds, but we can take appropriate measures to manage through tough situations. Start now.


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