It's probably no surprise that a company like SecurityGate — a Houston-based startup that offers risk management tools to critical infrastructure companies — felt well-prepared for the coronavirus pandemic.
"When we started hearing of this virus in January, I started making sure our employees had access to the necessary PPE and supplies, whether that’s hand sanitizer or wipes," says co-founder and CTO Cherise Esparza. "When we started working remotely, we started thinking about our return. We want everyone to feel safe."
But what does returning to work safely look like? For SecurityGate, it's small things like providing individual hand sanitizers for each employee, but it's also about providing free access to robust COVID-19 testing programs for everyone — both full-time staff and contractors.
"One of the things that SecurityGate is doing is that we tested all of our employees and did the first round of antibody testing," Esparza says. "We want to be a leader to provide access and pay for it."
Some experts say that serology testing, more commonly known as antibody testing, could be one element of reopening safely. With a finger prick of blood, the test looks for the presence of antibodies created in response to a coronavirus infection. This "fingerprint" could indicate a level of immunity for those with antibodies. It's not a perfect test — the CDC maintains that "we don’t know how much antibody is protective or how long protection might last" — but it could be another important element in the return-to-work arsenal alongside measures like social distancing and PPE.
"What I would say is to treat your employees the way you want to be treated," Esparza says. "I want to be safe and feel like my best interests are at heart. Use the checklists from texas.gov, which has instructions for every company type from retail to restaurant."
A detailed plan has allowed SecurityGate to bring all 15 employees back to work in-office without missing a step. The company's technology, which identifies and monitors cybersecurity risks for about $300 billion in critical infrastructure, remains as relevant as ever. "There’s some critical infrastructure sectors that have not been hit by the coronavirus disruption," explains CMO Matt Wilbanks, adding that SecurityGate services companies in sectors like healthcare, transportation, oil and gas, and beyond.
The company also received a loan from the new Paycheck Protection Program in April to cover additional expenses. Many businesses, particularly those with New Majority owners, had difficulty accessing the program, and Esparza acknowledges that her business would not have had such a smooth experience without three years of groundwork with their banking partner.
"For us, the process was streamlined and fairly simple," she says. "Had we not had a prior relationship with the bank, we would probably be in the same boat as the same members trying to figure out where to start, but our partners at Frost Bank navigated us through the process."
The SecurityGate team also acknowledges that their business is likely to grow during this crisis, which is why they quickly applied their technology to address the COVID-19 moment. This week, the company launched a new COVID-19 screening app to help Texas employers bring their teams back to work safely. Business owners can use the platform to digitally monitor employee screening results and view automated reports managed through a secure portal. In many ways, it's the core functions of the SecurityGate platform applied to the crisis of the moment.
"It’s not about pivoting, it’s about talking about what’s relevant," Wilbanks says. "We have a great opportunity to innovate and show how our platform can be helpful."
Learn more about how to reopen your business safely with the Hello Alice Guide linked here.