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Ambition for women

Michelle Bailey, the Managing Director of South Yorkshire-based Active Response Security, featured in our September 2016 print issue and was among the finalists in this year’s Women in Security (WiS) awards, presented during the Security Institute’s dinner after their annual conference (more in the November 2016 print issue of the magazine). Here, Michelle, pictured, writes of her ambition to see more women enter the industry.

I was very struck at this year’s Women in Security awards at what huge talent exists in our Industry. When you are in a room full of successful women it might be easy to conclude that we are well represented. I concluded that the talent was obvious but the numbers were unknown. I took the liberty of asking those who might reasonably know: how many women serve our industry? The answer came back that such Information was not captured, so it was not possible to be accurate. This was interesting because everyone within our industry seems to share the view that we need and wish to welcome more women. This is reflected by the BSIA whose membership represents 75 per cent of UK security revenues.

Trevor Elliott, Director of Manpower and Membership Services told me: “The BSIA recognises the value of the contribution that women make to the security industry. There are many situations where the presence of a female security officer is enormously beneficial and the industry needs to ensure that every effort is made to encourage women to pursue careers in security. The BSIA’s HR Forum is actively seeking to find ways that the Association can encourage and facilitate more female entrants to the industry and is currently undertaking a project aimed at attracting women from a wide range of backgrounds to consider security as a long-term career path.” This is encouraging news and a very welcome approach.

You will not be surprised that my love of our industry compels me to recommend it to more women. I should say at the outset that the challenges a security officer faces are many and varied. The role is fast moving and demands a keen eye and a calm, investigative approach. It demands an impartial outlook where everyone is treated fairly but on occasions, firmly. It’s essential to care about others. You also need to be teachable. I believe that the best method of helping people to learn is to get them to think. It’s a vital quality in the security industry. Safeguarding is at the fore of our daily activity and it brings responsibility. We exist in a highly regulated industry and it demands awareness of process. We look for talent to train skills.

Women are a great complement to male colleagues. Each has their individual strengths but the blend produces a balanced approach to the needs of business and community. It’s often said that the security industry is male-dominated but that should never be construed as being an unwelcoming environment for women. Women are achieving a fulfilling and successful career, so we need to be sure a more positive perception of our industry is achieved. Visiting schools to promote this message is a goal my own company has, since a whole range of other choices will be set in front of them that would never include security. They are the new generation that will take us forward.

It’s interesting that when you talk to talented women in our industry they reveal that security was not their first career thought but they came to love it. Although we are improving security-related education courses I still feel there is still not enough information available to encourage new recruits. We have skill shortages that need to be filled, so we need to show women that there are no barriers to success, to give them the confidence to come forward.
We need to set a clear lead as an industry that welcomes gender diversity.

We have tended to be reactionary rather than proactive and now is the time to add to our resources and become agents of the change we desperately need and deserve. Nothing provides for a more competent security company than diversity. More and more our customers need a bespoke service that demands specialist skills. Women are a vital part of the mix.

Apprenticeships for young people will also continue to open the door of planning the future. So ladies, we need you and we can help you fulfil your potential in a team environment with no barriers to your success. What are you waiting for? The evidence says you will love the security industry. In turn, we would love you to join us.

About the author

At the recent Barnsley and Rotherham Chamber of Commerce Business Awards, at Magna in Rotherham, Michelle Bailey was named the 2016 Business Person of the Year. The judges remarked on the company’s work safeguarding the community and children. In front of 500 guests the award was presented by the sonsor, The Academy of Chief Executives. Michelle said: “It was a very emotional moment made more special because my lovely team were with me to share it. I will treasure the moment. 2016 has been a remarkable year for us but this kind of encouragement motivates us to continue to take the lead in our Industry. The award has made a Barnsley Lass very proud and happy and the good wishes that have flowed in have been very humbling.”


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