Chair: Martin Gill

Panellists:
Oliver Curran – Deputy Security Manager at UCL
Jayne King – Head of Security and Site Services at Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust
Houdah Al-Hakim – CEO and Founder of Quick Click Security and Board Member of Women’s Security Society

Key points

Oliver Curran notes that this topic is global, it is a key feature of all credible organisations and it should be endemic to practice in the security sector too, but sometimes it is not. That said, via references to work going on in higher education and within the Security Commonwealth he highlights examples of good progress that is being made, and you will hear him discuss the benefits of ‘disruptive thinking’. In response to an audience question he accepts that there is too much unconscious bias in security, and sees this as one of the key challenges, and there are plenty of them. There are several ways in which Oliver feels change can be generated. One is by recognising outstanding performance and he references the work the Security Commonwealth in supporting a new category at the OSPAs, ‘Outstanding Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Initiative’ (see below for a description). A second is by introducing and improving standards and training. Three is by properly embracing diversity and inclusion and not viewing it as a tick box exercise. Fourth is by developing role models.

Jayne King notes that precisely because the public is diverse and speaks with many voices, then so it is vital a good sector will reflect that. Sometimes though diversity is approached as a tick box process and is often narrowly defined, it is more than an issue of race and gender. Jayne herself heads a group promoting LGBT rights and inclusion, and notes that importance of championing all causes. The issue is not just a moral one, embracing diversity makes good business sense but there is a lack of role models, an over focus on a narrow recruitment pool (with an over emphasis on those with a police and military background for example), a lack of attention on making security a first career choice, and sloppy use of language in job adverts and descriptions which repels interest. Clients that have good approaches need to embrace contractors who must more often set better examples. Understanding data for insights and learning from other sectors offer other approaches.

Houdah Al-Hakim draws attention to the commercial reasons for supporting diversity and inclusion, facilitating collaboration, offering a variety of insights and perspectives, and generating different inputs. Interestingly, Houdah notes that diversity can increase conflict which she says should not be a barrier but viewed as a key steppingstone to progress. One barrier to improving diversity that does exist is a lack of attention by the security sector to highlighting why it is attractive and why it is a good place to work. Similarly, there has been a lack of focus on understanding how different people, cultures view security and misconceptions abound which acts as a barrier to change. She calls for incentivisation to be inclusive, to conduct more research, and to build frameworks for accrediting skills and offering relevant qualifications. Only then can the best recruits, not least those traditionally sceptical or ignorant about a security career be attracted.

This webinar generated a lot of audience participation, it is a topic that divides opinion, not on the value and importance of a diverse workforce but more in terms of the extent of progress so far and the best routes to generate change. Certainly, the sense is that the security sector progress in this area is slight, especially on some types of diversity. There is a will for change, but it needs to become bigger and more dynamic involving security personnel, clients, and associations working together.


The new OSPA category

Outstanding Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Initiative

This OSPA recognises the company, team or individual that operates an outstanding equality, diversity and inclusion initiative generating fairer treatment and improving opportunities. Equality, diversity and inclusion are variously interpreted but an outstanding initiative will champion sustainable and measurable change for those who traditionally have been under-represented be that with regards to age, disability, gender (reassignment), marriage and other types of partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion and belief, and/or Sex. Examples could include spearheading change by reshaping attitudes and behaviour, inspiring a more conducive culture, embedding key values into practices and policies and always contributing to a thriving and inclusive environment be that internally, for customers, society and/or other stakeholders.

To enter this category you will be asked to:

  1. Describe the equality, diversity and inclusion initiative, highlighting the key features that were responsible for delivering outstanding performance. (500 words)
  2. Describe how the initiative made an impact in improving equality, diversity and inclusion in terms of adding value, improving performance or otherwise driving excellence (500 words)

The judges will be looking for evidence of outstanding performance in:

  • Discussing the aims of the initiative and the key benefits it provides
  • Highlighting the approaches taken, specific skills and tactics that underpin performance 
  • Identifying the factors that enable staff/leadership to excel
  • Providing examples of the improvements generated
  • Demonstrating the organisational benefits and how they are achieved

Martin Gill
15th June, 2021