It’s no secret that tensions remain high throughout society as Canadians look to make ends meet and navigate the challenges of work, life, and rising costs of living.

Today, confrontation and conflict come in many shapes and sizes, as digital threats and organized protests work hand-in-hand with one another while being fueled by social media. Truthfully, conflict has become all too common, as anyone with a smartphone can vent their frustrations against government entities and political figures, creating a potential snowball effect that can turn into real-life security concerns.

The world of social media has proven to be especially volatile in 2023, where viral posts can be shared and gain tens of thousands of impressions in a matter of minutes. Media personalities, government officials, and public-facing executives are just one tweet away from eliciting a sharp response from the general public. The anonymous nature of many social media platforms affords the opportunity to anyone to say what they feel without any filter, sometimes calling for boycotting of specific businesses, or calling on others to organize, protest, and utter threats against those who interact with the public.

Should an executive or politician express an unpopular view, the reputational damage will be felt for months, but with the work I do alongside AFIMAC, we are seeing a troubling increase in real-life security threats coming from the public, against those who run our governments along with well-known public-facing corporate executives. These threats have been against individuals, the homes of executives, and the events they attend. Now there is an ever-growing need for enlisting protection personnel not just for the workplace, but also at trade show events, public appearances, and speaking engagements.

Communication Strategies

Managing the unique risks of 2023 begins with a close look at how governments and corporations interact with the public. Currently, the tolerance level for insensitive comments is incredibly low, and there is a great deal of angst when it comes to the sensitive topics of rising costs of living, grocery prices, and general politics. I would even go as far as to say that it is only a matter of time until a politician, executive, or someone representing your company offends the public for their views.

It could be something your organization has done in the past, or insensitive social posts from years ago that can spark outrage and prompt protestors to organize outside your home or office. Now is the time to take a deep dive into the social presence of key individuals in your organization, and really rethink how you communicate with the public. Less is always more, and taking the time to really refine your communication practices is one of the best ways to manage confrontation and ensure that the stories your organization is telling are not misinterpreted.

Proactive Versus Reactive Measures

Effective risk mitigation should continue to be more proactive than reactive in this day and age. Simply considering the potential of a spontaneous protest or demonstration at your workplace can help you plan for such issues and protect senior leaders and your workforce. Truly anything can happen, and your workplace should be prepared for this. Conflict management training, physical security resources, and risk mitigation planning can ensure that your organization is prepared for flash protests with policies in place to dictate how staff should act when confrontation arises.

It’s also important to consider that information continues to be weaponized in the digital world. The new trend AFIMAC has seen recently is the personal information about specific executives, media personalities, and government leaders being shared online. Should a personal cell phone number or home address be shared with the wrong person, the results could be disastrous. These threats can spill out well beyond the workplace and into the homes of executives and politicians.

It’s incredible how much personal information is shared online, and some motivated individuals may dig deep into the depths of the internet to harvest personal information and use it for nefarious purposes. Behind the veil of the web, those who are upset with your organization create threats in both the physical and digital worlds.

Protecting Human Resources Alongside AFIMAC

I encourage all individuals in the public eye to proactively address the unique security concerns that are arising in 2023 with protection personnel that includes the workplace and the events you attend. Digital threats should not be taken lightly, and the efforts your organization makes to proactively address these risks can preserve your reputation and mitigate security threats before they turn into greater issues. As an organization, AFIMAC is so incredibly proud to have worked alongside a number of entities across Ontario to help provide safe workplaces while also protecting the precious human resources that make up your organization.

Jim Rovers

Senior Vice President of AFIMAC

Originally joining AFIMAC in 2004 as Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing, Rovers has been actively involved in the fields of corporate security, workplace investigations, and labor disputes for nearly two decades. Proud to have assisted Fortune 500 companies across North America, Rovers has facilitated the development of contingency plans and risk mitigation strategies that address workplace security concerns with executive transportation services, access control, and temporary staffing solutions.

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