- Security TWENTY
- Women in Security
Our regular contributor and pioneer of the Women in Security (WiS) award Una Riley rounds off the quizzing of the award judges. Last month she brought us what the women judges had to say – this month it’s the men’s turn.
In June, the European Union Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding met European industry associations, business schools and senior executive women to discuss progress being made on improving the gender balance in company boardrooms. Despite around 60 per cent of university graduates being female, women still represent only 14pc of board members in Europe’s biggest listed companies and only 3pc of board presidents. Business schools play a crucial role in equipping young women for a career in business. Viviane Reding, a Luxembourger, said: “I do not accept the argument that there aren’t enough qualified women to fill supervisory boards – you just need to look at the list of 7000 ‘board ready’ women that European business schools published a few months ago to see that there are. The pool of talent is there – companies should now make use of it.” I asked a selection of the Profesional Security-WiS male judges (Stefan Hay of the Fire and Security Association; Gerald Moor, Master of the Worshipful Company of the Security Professionals; Justin Bentley, Chief Executive Officer of the International Professional Security Association; and Jeff Little, Chief Executive of the National Security Inspectorate) a number of questions relating to the next round of awards … starting with:
Una: EU Vice President and Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding is cranking up pressure on Europe’s largest firms to boost the number of women on boards voluntarily or face the threat of quotas … is she right to do so?
Stefan Hay – FSA: I am not a strong supporter of quota systems as I see them as ‘Eurocrat enforced’ equality, as opposed to true equality. People should be assessed, and appointed, against their suitability for a job and not because of their gender, race, age or beliefs. However, I do believe that employers do need to look beyond their traditional recruitment methods and their employee base should represent the society in which we now live and work.
Gerald Moor – WCoSP: My belief is that the best person should be promoted regardless of sex, religion or nationality. This you cannot legislate or create quotas for and it would be dangerous to even contemplate it. What boards must strive for is to open their eyes to ensure that women are considered for the positions in their own right in line with their male counterparts and not excluded from the process.
Justin Bentley – IPSA: Gender should be immaterial. People should be on boards as recognition of financial input, experience or contribution. This however does show the importance of any awards to highlight the individuals who are worthy of recognition and give them prominence.
Jeff Little – NSI: I am a believer in the maxim of ‘let nature take its course’. Interfering can have unexpected consequences and indeed produce effects diametrically opposite from the intended outcome. Out of my four top team members … two are female. Of my total workforce, 41 per cent are female. Need I say more?
Una: Do you think the security industry has done enough in working towards gender equality?
Justin Bentley: It is not about introducing equality, companies across all industries need to make sure they do not have unnecessary barriers built on prejudices. Employees need to be recruited on ability to perform an employment function, and there are probably a few employers who do need to consider this.
Gerald Moor: This has to be a continuing and improving evolution and should reflect roles that both sexes can contribute in. The police already have a proven track record in promoting more ladies to high positions including the rank of chief constable and the security industry should take note because it is based on capability. This is not a just for the security industry to resolve but we must look to industry as a whole to realise and recognise the contribution that women make at all levels.
Jeff Little: I think it is a matter of horses for courses. I come from a military background and my Corps had the largest proportion of female soldiers in any cap badge. Nevertheless, there were still restrictions on women serving in the frontline infantry or in main battle tanks for purely physical reasons – and I think everyone accepts that unless she is a weightlifter, the average female would have great difficulty in loading a 120mm main armament cannon round into the breach of a gun. I think that our industry is somewhat akin to the Army.
Stefan Hay: When I first joined SITO in 1998, one of the first projects Ray Clarke gave me responsibility for was the WISE Project (Women in Security Employment). The project was successful in that we recruited 300 women from all walks of life and supported them through training and qualifications. Many of those women went on to have very successful careers in the security industry, but considering the calibre of the candidates, it was disappointing that not ALL of them did. At that time, many firms in the sector were ‘enlightened’ and saw the true worth of the project, but with most firms it was a hard sell. Our industry is still male dominated and has an image that ‘portrays’ a need for men to do the work, but in an industry that is so diverse and offers so many different career opportunities, I would urge colleagues to continue to challenge that image and break down any barriers that exist to ensure our industry becomes fully inclusive.
Una: What were your initial thoughts about the WiS awards?
Justin Bentley: I thought that it was a good idea, as the majority view of the security industry is that it is a very male dominated career and it was important to highlight that women can have equal, if not superior, impact in the industry.
Gerald Moor: I was delighted when I was invited to join the panel of judges this year in my capacity as Master of The Worshipful Company. In my day job, I am the CEO of The Inkerman Group, and I am very pleased to say that we not only have ladies holding key appointments in the company, we also have a lady on our executive board, something that has been extant for some considerable time. My first reaction on hearing about the awards was ‘about time too!’ These awards promote so much, but above all, it provides recognition to the role and impact that women have in the security industry and were long overdue.
Stefan Hay: I welcomed the initiative wholeheartedly. It is vital that female security professionals in our industry get the overdue recognition they deserve.
Jeff Little: I do not believe in positive discrimination – people should be selected and promoted and get jobs on their merit and their ability regardless of their sex, religion, colour etc. that is the basis of a fair society. However, the security industry is different in that it is perceived as very much a male, macho environment when in fact there are many, many women serving on the front line, in management and leadership positions, who receive little recognition – and that is why I fully supported the awards.
Una: Were you surprised by the quality of the nominees?
Gerald Moor: I cannot comment as I was not on the panel last year, but reviewing those that won the various awards, you can instantly recognise the sheer and high standards that abound in them. You have to remember their contribution has always been there and these awards have served to highlight, provide recognition and promote the value that women provide.
Stefan Hay: Not at all. When I joined the private security industry 20 years ago, I worked alongside female security officers, site supervisors, close protection officers and even some area managers who were all of a very high calibre, but unfortunately, I met very few senior professionals. Women have played a significant role in defence, national security, espionage, investigation, policing and intelligence gathering throughout history, so I am more surprised by the fact that more women haven’t taken the private security industry by storm!
Justin Bentley: Yes. The nominees were definitely individuals who go above and beyond the requirements of their employment role and contribute to the improvement of the industry as a whole.
Jeff Little: This being the first year, I did not know what to expect and I did not have a baseline from which to work. The fundamental key to success is the person writing the nomination. If managers simply do not take the time to sit down and write the nomination in the first place, then those outstanding efforts and dedicated years of service will simply not be highlighted. Reward and recognition is a key part of being a manager in the 21st century so my message is to those in positions of authority and influence – put pen to paper, bash on the keyboard or whatever – but get your nominations written and submitted. The satisfaction of seeing one of your team receive the recognition she deserves makes it all very worthwhile.
Una: Do you think that it is significant that the WiS awards have been so widely endorsed by industry lead bodies (ILBs)?
Jeff Little: Firstly, I do think that it is significant that the WiS awards have been widely endorsed by ILBs – but I am not in the least surprised. The industry is very much a ‘people’ orientated business and it is front line people and managers who make it work. Recognising and rewarding their efforts is essential if we are to trumpet and highlight the success which they produce.
Justin Bentley: The ILBs all recognise that more needs to be done to show that security can be a career with prospects and challenges as opposed to a dead end job. Any awards demonstrate excellence. The fact that this particular award is based on gender, as opposed to any of an infinite list of possible qualifying criteria is in some respects immaterial; however it also highlights the industry as a career to more people.
Stefan Hay: No. To be credible in society and business industry bodies must welcome anything that promotes equality of opportunity.
Gerald Moor: Not at all as after all, they should be promoting equality. The real point is that they should endorse the WiS awards which will promote the value of the message whilst at the same time endorsing women’s’ success in the work place.
Una: Any other issues about WiS that you would like to comment on?
Gerald Moor: It is very important that everyone understands and realises the contribution that women make in our sector at all levels and therefore those responsible within the industry must ensure fairness and objectivity is delivered. Nothing less should be acceptable.
Stefan Hay: I see the WiS awards playing a pivotal role in the changing attitudes for the better in the security industry.
Justin Bentley: No
Jeff Little: Yes – I look forward to reading even more excellent nominations for outstanding effort in the next round – so get writing!