- Security TWENTY
- Women in Security Awards
Historically, security has been a male dominated sector. However, due to the changing role of security officers over recent years, there has been a drive to get more women to pursue a career in security. But how does a company go about engaging women to join an industry that has stereotypically been a ‘male profession’? asks Sara Taylor, pictured, the new Deputy Managing Director at guarding contractor Incentive Lynx, interviewed in the September 2017 print issue of Professional Security.
The first step is altering the image of a stereotypical security officer. In the 30 years since I joined the industry, the role of a security officer has evolved dramatically and now encompasses everything from front of house to concierge and reception duties. As a result, security officers are more frequently required to engage with customers on a day to day basis. Therefore, it is important to find the right balance between providing a no-nonsense image that prevents any threats, while also ensuring those entering the building are met with a welcome. This is why it is better to have an eclectic range of skilled people with different backgrounds to be able fulfil the wide variety of situations they could come across.
It is also important to highlight that a career in security doesn’t always mean becoming a security officer. Employees working behind the scenes in sales, management and operations play a vital role in ensuring the industry continues to operate successfully by making sure clients’ needs are met through assessing and delivering the correct solutions across a wide variety of sites. Therefore, it is just as important to have a strong and diverse team working behind the lines, as it is in the more customer facing roles. However, the key challenge is raising awareness of the different career options available to those looking to join, or progress in the security industry.
One way of educating young girls and women about the different career paths in security is through increased training opportunities. Recently the government introduced an Apprenticeship Levy which required all employers operating in the UK, with a pay bill over £3 million per year, to pay 0.5% of their pay role. The idea is that companies will be able to access this money to fund apprenticeship schemes. This provides companies with a fantastic opportunity to attract girls out of school, take them on board as apprentices and educate them about the wide variety of potential career paths within the industry, as well as offering them a real alternative to university and further education.
In addition, actively encouraging existing staff to complete training courses can help employees to further develop their careers. At Incentive Lynx, we provide our current employees with multiple training opportunities to help them progress in their careers, this includes leadership and management courses and IOSH managing safely courses. For example, one employee, Tamara Bajdik started her career at Incentive as a Security Officer in 2016. Through completing several training courses, she will qualify as a supervisor in September. When I asked her why she pursued a career in security she said:
“I love my job. Each day is different – you never know what challenges you will be facing when you turn up to work in the morning. Incentive Lynx has provided me with the opportunity to progress my career. However, I do believe the industry can do more to attract women by offering them flexible working and more training opportunities. In my opinion a mentoring scheme should be set up for women who work in the industry, where those who hold higher positions work with employees who are just starting out in their career, to help them to develop and advance.”
In conclusion, the changes in the security industry has meant that companies must look to hire a more gender diverse team. At Incentive Lynx, we are actively working to seek out female security officers to fulfil roles in order to constantly meet the changing demands of our clients.