Is security delivering (or failing) in this crisis?
Chair: Martin Gill
- Stephanie Bergouignan (France)
- Yvan de Mesmaeker (Belgium)
- Volker Wagner (Germany)
- Rick Mounfield (UK)
Security certainly has challenges. Within corporations security departments and teams are showing their value. Volker Wagner noted that in his company someone – not in security – suggested a banner for security officers to be recognised by visitors and passers by to the premises (with a sounding of the car hooter), and it was proving popular. There are plenty of examples of success, read on for more, but there are challenges too. In France Stephaine Bergouignan made the point that there was no such recognition for security officers on the front line. They may be the face of the industry but the work they are doing remains largely unrecognised.
It is likely security will change forever. If security can be recognised for the areas where it has succeeded then the good times are easier to see. But security personnel are shy, and the media rarely interested. Unless the customers of security, internal and external, speak up about the benefits they will likely go unheralded, again. Security associations have a key role here. Recognising the importance, Rick Mounfield noted that there is a thin line between highlighting the good security does and making people fearful for their safety, caution needed indeed.
Security will change though because businesses are changing, people are working from home, security has to help companies become more resilient to homeworking. Yvan de Mesmaeker and Volker Wagner both discussed how closely security is involved in protecting people and businesses (in a broad array of business operations). As Stephaine Bergouignan noted, there is a need to put the sparkle back into security, there is a lot to be positive about, with regards to serving customers and people, helping others, recognising the good work that is done and taking the time to smile more. Nice sentiments.
Yvan de Mesmaeker identified four focus areas. First, staff. The need to get people home from foreign lands was done well by those with organisational maturity, and that latter point is key and recognises that some organisations have been better prepared than others. Second, government, police and intelligence services, who have a difficult task. In Belgium there is a lack of protective equipment and some police are worried about confronting people as a consequence. Third, remote workers, some of whom will be finding it difficult to adapt. Fourth, guarding, where there is a central issue about capacity. It is reduced because people are sick and some are afraid and that impacts on their willingness to do their job. Capacity goes up because some locations are not active and so resources can be spread.
Volker Wagner from Germany, also discussed four specific areas. What is striking about these points is how closely security is to the broad operations of the business. First, the emergency and crisis teams within companies, most meet daily, are overseeing a range of activities and this includes cancelled events – some important ones such as shareholding meetings – noting that there had been a shift to virtual meetings. A key focus of the teams has been keeping employees informed. Second, there has been a need to secure offices since some buildings are unattended. In other cases security employees are going to work to check entrances and monitor people entering such as truck drivers. An issue here is deciding how to provide those working with food as canteens are closed. Third, dealing with business trips, clearly only critical ones allowed, and complicated by borders being closed. Then there are issues about bringing people home. Fourth, supply chains need to be kept working, this is critical, many companies are producing critical ingredients or components for products.
Rick Mounfield from the UK spoke about the need for innovation and recognised that this is a challenge. Echoing a theme raised by others he noted that the need for security was to show its value, and this needed to be shown on the front line by security officers, and that will greatly impact on people’s overall perception of security. There are others ways security is showing value, by showing supply chain resilience ensuing shelves in stores are full, protecting against theft, supporting remote workers. Challenges for sure, but security is delivering and it needs to be recognised for this. Rick noted that at the moment there was hero fatigue for frontline workers and security people were shy, ultimately businesses need to appreciate their security, television could help.
Stephanie Bergouignan from France highlighted the weaknesses in security. First she pointed to the image problem, she said there was no applauding security officers in France for their work, they were not mentioned in the media, there was a general lack of recognition. Second, security is a very divided industry, in France companies play solo, there is little in the way of a united approach. Security officers were not being supported with protective equipment, they are not recognised as being important for the work they are doing. Third, mid level management are not able to access sites, so how do they supervise teams? Attracting talented people is key going forward but enabling them to work effectively is another. Finally there is the issue of supporting clients, and indeed supportive clients. They are key. They need to be aware that when they are good to security staff they reap the rewards, and the opposite is true too. One major issue is the likely replacement of humans with technology. This is not bad, less officers, better trained and more responsible can be a positive. Smaller teams enables security to be flexible and nimble, a chimp not a gorilla!