Changing the Game: How Business Innovations Reduce the Impact of Disasters

At the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation, we believe that businesses are part of the solution to society’s challenges. This year’s disaster case study report, Changing the Game: How Business Innovations Reduce the Impact of Disasters, is about just that—attempting to solve a challenge that no one thinks they will ever face but that adversely affects too many people every year.

Disaster experts will tell you that certain events change the game for everyone—they change how emergency managers respond, they change how people prepare, and they change how the public thinks about disasters. Hurricane Andrew was one of those events, as were Hurricane Katrina, the Haiti earthquake, the Boxing Day tsunami, the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami, and others. After being widely criticized for slow responses to Hurricanes Andrew and Katrina, the federal government undertook needed reforms to build the modern emergency management system that we have today. The Boxing Day tsunami raised awareness of the necessity of tsunami sirens in the Pacific. The international community watched in horror as Haiti, the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere, experienced a mega-disaster, which required the U.S. military to ostensibly control the disaster relief process. And the Tohoku earthquake made the interdependencies in the global supply chain of our just-in-time world abundantly clear.

But must we have a major disaster in order to create change? Over the past 15 years, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation Corporate Citizenship Center (CCC) has been working to change the game little by little. When we started, we saw a flaw: the business community was not sufficiently integrated into the disaster system. From small business preparedness and recovery to critical infrastructure protection, to the power of business expertise and donations, there are plenty of reasons—and opportunities—for business sector involvement.

This report will highlight the innovative approaches that companies are taking to prepare themselves and their communities for disasters and to offer their skills and resources in relief and recovery. We believe that game-changing innovations are happening every day, and we want to catalog them here. These unique stories show how businesses are achieving substantial outcomes across all disaster phases.

We organize the game-changing solutions as follows:

  • Stories of Those Impacted—These articles share the perspective of those who have been affected by a disaster and what they did to overcome it. In their own words, we hear the story of how disaster survivors recovered.
  • The System: How Companies Are Plugging into the Broader Disaster Structure—The system of disaster management can be quite complicated. These articles tell how companies successfully integrated into the system in order to achieve results in communities.
  • Overcoming Challenges—These case studies focus on a specific, difficult challenge that the contributors successfully overcame. By answering five standard questions, companies share their insights and best practices for dealing with challenging situations.
  • Beyond Cash Solutions—Substantial impact can be made in communities outside of traditional cash gifts. These articles include examples of companies using skills-based volunteering and strategic in-kind donations to change the game.
  • Employee Engagement: How Can It Be Most Effective?—Following disasters, many employees are looking for ways to help. These articles share how companies help focus and channel employee interest in meaningful ways.

Access the full report.