Agility in Crisis Management and Corporate Social Responsibility
An Introduction to Crisis Management PlanningThe following is an excerpt from The Evangelists: Insights from Leaders of the Nation’s Most Beloved Brands. Written by Monica Padillo, this chapter is titled “Agility in Crisis Management and Corporate Social Responsibility.” In it, Owen Cammayo, the Executive Director of BPI, is interviewed about how the organization executes its strategy in quick, yet effective, crisis management during business dilemmas.
The role of social responsibility and public relations
It goes without saying that managing the corporate affairs of a company is not an easy feat, what with so many disciplines falling under the responsibility of one individual assigned for that role. This is something that Owen Cammayo is all too familiar with as the Vice President and Head of Corporate Affairs at Bank of the Philippines Islands (BPI), the pioneering bank in the Philippines and Southeast Asia.
But throughout all the stress and hardships he went and continues to go through in his role, he is aided by his 23 years of experience in the communication and public relations field. His breadth of knowledge and skills helps him build, protect, and enhance the corporate reputation of BPI. In particular, there are two aspects that Cammayo focuses on: crisis management and corporate social responsibility, especially since he is the Executive Director of the BPI Foundation as well.
When it comes to crisis management, Cammayo utilizes a process called horizon scanning, which essentially means identifying threats before they even happen. He explained that horizon scanning in BPI is led by a risk committee that regularly convenes to check the company’s situation and determines any need to revise certain policies or processes to mitigate existing and future complications.
In a general sense, BPI also has a different group called a Crisis Resiliency Committee, which consists of the top executives in the company, including the President himself. Whenever BPI is experiencing a full-blown crisis, the corporate leaders would gather and collaborate on how they would mitigate the situation.
One of the reasons why the top company executives participate in crisis management themselves is because they want to wholly protect the organization. Maintaining the highly esteemed reputation of a company such as BPI, which has been operating for over 169 years and employs almost 21,000 workers nationwide, is one of their priorities.
“When there is a crisis situation, we need to convene and look at the issue from an enterprise-wide perspective. And to manage the situation well, I believe it’s important to maintain clarity with the strategy and role of everyone in the company,” Cammayo said, adding that it’s his responsibility to communicate these strategies and roles as quickly as possible to key stakeholders.
Of course, BPI doesn’t just take action when a problem arises. According to Cammayo, the company continuously adheres to internally established governance practices essential in securing the integrity of the organization. By doing so, the bank is able to prevent as many problems as possible, or at least minimize the issues and eventually prevent unwanted situations.
Outside crisis management, Cammayo also handles the BPI Foundation’s corporate social responsibility efforts by following the five As: Aligned, Authentic, Agile, Altruistic, and Aspirational.
When it comes to being aligned, Cammayo makes sure that the BPI Foundation’s efforts adhere to BPI’s principles, the core of which is financial inclusion.
“In the foundation, we envision a financially inclusive Philippines where every Filipino is empowered to live a better life. That belief differentiates BPI from others—we don’t just provide financial services as a business; we also give back and reach out to communities that are underserved,” Cammayo said.
He added that the BPI Foundation continues to capacitate poor communities so that they can one day be part of the country’s formal financial ecosystem, which is dominated by more financially capable people.
When it comes to being agile, Cammayo gave the example of when BPI Foundation had to pivot during the COVID-19 pandemic. With most of the programs and initiatives done through face-to-face interventions, the company had to rethink how they operated. One of the things they did was to shift their programs online.
Cammayo recalled that they had to move one of the BPI Foundation’s milestone projects on financial wellness to digital platforms. For programs on financial education, the organization launched various online seminars and trainings led by subject matter experts from BPI. The foundation also planned to develop a mobile app where people can easily learn and understand the importance of financial planning and financial literacy, among other things.
Aside from the underserved communities, the BPI Foundation also made sure to engage with its other stakeholders, which include BPI’s employees, clients, and government regulators. Cammayo believes it’s important to specially engage with their employees as they potentially act as the company’s brand ambassadors.
“If the employees are aware of what we’re doing for the community, the company, and its stakeholders, they will be highly instrumental in getting our messages across. Imagine, we have almost 21,000 employees. If an average employee has five members in the family, that’s around 105,000 captivated people for BPI,” he said.
Cammayo added that the foundation tries to continuously collaborate and communicate with their stakeholders because it’s not enough to just develop programs and initiatives, or push their advocacies.
“It’s also key that we are able to communicate those efforts for broader appreciation and understanding. This is why it’s perfect to put Communication and CSR in one group. It’s more integrated that way.”
In all of these initiatives, as well as in the other disciplines that fall under his wing, Cammayo believed that learning never stops. Even with more than two decades of experience in business communication and stakeholder relations and public relations, he knows there’s still so much he can take away from his career.
“When I was starting out in public relations, it was challenging. I had to strategize and understand better the brand or company I represent, its stakeholders and the media. A lot of staff work was involved in the process―research, doing press rounds, networking, and more. Those are still mandatory, but like any other industry, public relations transform with the times,” he said. “We have to be always willing to learn and unlearn in the process. Public relations is a dynamic and strategic discipline that is continuously evolving.”
According to Cammayo, communication affects and contributes to the purpose of the company in more ways than one. Effective business communication manages and controls the corporate narrative, which is key in solidifying and safeguarding reputation.
“The goal is to be able to contribute positive change through my work. The bonus here is that I sincerely believe in BPI and its purpose. It makes work genuinely enjoyable and purposeful.”
To get more insights from other marketing leaders like Owen Cammayo, please check out the full book, available for purchase here.
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