Civil Unrest Series #1:

Why Your Business Needs to Be Prepared for Civil Unrest & Riots

According to recent reports by the Global Peace Index, civil unrest has doubled over the last decade, causing both social strain and economic impact. In fact, the global economic impact of violence increased by 17%, reaching $17.5 trillion in 2022, equivalent to 13% of global GDP.

What can smart businesses do to mitigate the risks associated with civil unrest and riots?  With proper forethought and preparation, you can take steps to protect your resources, property, and people if violence reaches your communities.

In the following blog series, we will discuss practical tools available to help you better prepare for the increasing unrest and potentially dangerous situations that might arise in the months and years to come.

Civil Unrest: Why Businesses Should Care

When individuals gather to express frustrations and displeasure with the state of their society, emotions are heightened. While not every demonstration or protest turns violent, business owners should remain vigilant and prepare for the worst.

Some events become tools for attacking what is perceived as the American institution, and businesses can be targeted to make a statement during a civil unrest protest. Other times, bad actors infiltrate a peaceful gathering with the intention of escalating violence and setting off a chain of actions that result in widespread damage and destruction.

On a larger scale, civil unrest can negatively impact supply chains, resulting in revenue loss and even potentially closing down a business. Employees can be impacted by restricted travel and hampering of public transportation, as well as more serious threats such as bodily injury, arrests, or even death.

Prudent businesses are taking steps to reduce the negative impacts that civil unrest, riots, and demonstrations can make to their properties, teams, and operations. For example, business owners should:

Be Aware

During protests or gatherings, experts suggest observing the crowd. Tactical vests, goggles, gloves, and backpacks can be good indicators of impending conflict, as well as fliers and verbiage such as “shut down,” “block,” “occupy,” and “burn.” Monitor social media and news for signs that events might be escalating and have a plan of response ready to activate if needed. Consider joining reputable third-party organizations like InfraGard that partner members of the private sector with the FBI to help protect the U.S. infrastructure.

Build Your Network

Keep an eye on numbers and escalations in people attending, keeping in mind that local law enforcement can be overpowered by enough people acting with ill intent. Getting to know your neighbors and adjacent businesses increases your situational awareness, helping you form a network of information and protection for your area.

Train Your Teams

In addition to offering specific riot training and procedures to your security teams, it’s also important to train your other employees to observe and report suspicious or concerning behavior from customers or those nearby your business. Engaging your teams this way also helps build a stronger safety culture for your business in general.

Be Prepared to Stand on Your Own

It’s helpful to maintain good relationships with your local law enforcement, as they can be a source of helpful intel and support. However, if an event does occur, you may be on your own for an extended period of time. Take the time to harden your facility by ensuring your security features—like CCTV and building access points—are updated and running and that your security personnel are scheduled for maximum presence during periods of unrest.

Plan to Communicate

Being prepared for a civil unrest event includes ensuring your leadership and executives are ready to communicate efficiently so you can make critical decisions quickly. Be sure to also have a mass-communication plan or system ready for reaching all employees if needed to update them on operations and efforts to protect the business.

Preparing now for unforeseen events in the future can make a difference in how your business fares if the worst-case scenario begins to unfold in your communities.

Check back in May for the next installment in our civil unrest blog series.


Pharmacists Mutual Insurance Group is a nationally recognized leader providing insurance and risk management within industries including pharmacy, healthcare, and more. This information is intended to provide general information only on certain risk management topics and is not intended to provide any coverage determinations or coverage positions, nor is it to be construed as providing legal, medical, or professional advice of any form whatsoever. Learn more about how we help our members mitigate their risks.