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Rainbow Group launch

At an online event yesterday evening, the Rainbow Group of the Security Institute launched, arising from last year’s launch of the Institute’s Inclusivity and diversity SIG (special interest group). Behind the group are three Institute members: Mel Hipwood, Satia Rai and Sian Doherty.

Mel said: “We would like to provide a wide range of support for our fellow Rainbow professionals.” As later detailed by Sian Doherty, that includes being a ‘safe space’ where people can be who they are.

“We want,” Mel went on, “to promote inclusivity and equality of opportunity for all Rainbow professionals, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identities. We say that because not all of us feel able to be ourselves, not all of us feel able to identify as what we wish to be.”

Organisers acknowledged the work so far of the Inclusivity SIG – and one of its founders, Anna-Liisa Tampuu – was among the attendees, to add her best wishes for the Group. The Inclusivity SIG was the winner of the first Dave Clark Award for contribution to the security industry, as presented at last month’s Association of Security Consultants’ annual conference, Consec. Pictured left to right are Institute chief Rick Mounfield, Institute staffer Ben Harding, Sian Doherty, Mel Hipwood and Satia Rai at the Institute annual conference last month with the Dave Clark Award.

As the online event heard, the Rainbow Group aims to represent the security industry by making contact with similar networks – in the police, for example, and in the civil service, including the Government Security Profession – which remains the most comprehensive effort by a part of the security sector in the UK to map out the required competencies, and career pathways. Equally, it seeks to be a ‘safe space’ and to have a social diary whether of online or in-person events; the first is planned for January. Hope was also expressed that a BAME (black and ethnic minority) security group might form similarly. Also planned is a ‘buddy’ scheme; and training.

Why set up such a group, and now? Is there a need, when the country’s most senior cop, Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick, is the first female and openly homosexual head of the Met, and Alan Turing is on banknotes? There may lie the issue, as related workplaces to private security – the military, the police, the secret services – have had such groups for a while. There is an element of catch-up; the Rainbow Group hopes to take part in London Pride in 2022.

Also to reckon with are the findings of a survey earlier this year by the Inclusivity SIG, as outlined to the online event by Ben Harding. From some 717 responses (large by Institute survey standards), 88 per cent identified as heterosexual, 3pc as gay, 2pc lesbian, 2pc bisexual and 2pc asexual; and 3pc preferred not to say. Broadly speaking, that is in line with the UK as a whole from ONS 2017 figures. It stands to reason that among for example 389,000 SIA licence-holders, as in the 120,000 or so police, there are some different gender identities and sexual orientations.

Interviews with some of those responding to the SIG survey, however, of LGBT security professionals found that none felt comfortable, being their authentic selves. Again, that is in line with UK experience more generally, as LGBT people say that they feel most uncomfortable when on public transport, or in their workplace. The security sector, the Rainbow Group is saying, needs to do its bit to be more welcoming.


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