What happened in Parkland was horrific.  So was what happened at Sandy Hook.  At Columbine.  At Virginia Tech. You know the names and I don’t need to list everyone to make the point.  But here’s another thing you should consider – now, every time you hear “active shooter,” whether it’s paired with alert, response, drill or anything else, you default think of schools.  Of children.

I feel very strongly that we have to do more to make schools safe and free of this kind of violence.  I am not a policy wonk or Constitutional law expert by any means; in fact, far from either.  But I do fear for kids suffering a rampage like we’ve seen play out on our TVs, or, best case scenario, living in fear of it happening.  I hope schools and policy makers get on the same page, and soon is not soon enough.

Although I am a parent and a grandparent and I worry about our schools every day, I am also a CEO.  And as a CEO, I also have specific accountability to ETHIX360 employees.  It would be great if my job only had to focus on product management, driving revenues, managing expenses, instill a culture of transparency and accountability … how awesome would that be?!

Sadly though, one thing I do have to think about now is “what if someone, for any reason, decided ETHIX360 should be a target?”  Could be an ex-employee, could be a spouse of an employee, could be a random stranger with no prior association with any of our team members or clients.

We are an ethics and compliance firm, and we have all kinds of policies in place – everything from InfoSec to HIPAA and all sorts of polices in-between.  We even have a policy on policy management for goodness sake.  I guess when you hire a Chief Compliance Officer to button you up, you get buttoned up!  And I’m glad.  Along with that came training and attestations, and everyone, including me, had to complete all the training and testing.

I realize now, though, that we are woefully short of a very important policy, and a policy that I wish we didn’t need to even discuss, much less have.  So this morning, I added to our CCO’s list of things to do, to please add an “Active Shooter Preparedness Plan” to that list.  We’re very lucky to have her on our staff – most companies our size don’t have a CCO.  And we’re more fortunate that she was (and I know that “once a marine always a marine” so I should say “is”), a United States Marine.  I tasked her with this because I firmly believe that no one responds well to a situation that they aren’t prepared for.

There’s a number of components to a policy like this – with a portion being to train employees what to actually do in the event of an active shooter scenario playing out at work.  Hide? Run?  What is the chain of command in the event of an incident?  What if it is not in our offices, but are the one next door?  Safe evacuation.  Communicating clearly with first responders when you can.

But there’s more than that.  We like to think the systems we design help our clients move from being reactive to proactive and from proactive to predictive.  So our policies should do the same.  That means encouraging communication.  Looking for telltale signs of depression and changes in behavior.  Who do you report those to and how should you report them?  Once reported, what’s the process to deal with the issue?   After all, not every person who has a bad day turns to violence, but sadly too many do.

It’s all of our jobs to keep our heads up and eyes open.  When we see something, to say something.  But it rests on me as CEO to make sure policies exist and are followed.  That training exists and employees are aware.

So Stephanie, what’s taking so long?  Oorah!


J Rollins is the co-founder and CEO of ETHIX360.  At ETHIX360, our goal is simple, to provide an affordable, flexible and comprehensive answer to employee communication and case management on issues related to corporate ethics, code of conduct, fraud, bribery, EH&S and workplace violence.  To learn more about ETHIX360, please visit www.ethix360.com, or follow us on twitter @ethix360.