Chair: Professor Martin Gill

Panellists:
Jayne King – Head of Security & Site Services at Guys and St Thomas NHS Foundation Trust. Also, Chairperson for The UK Security Commonwealth
Satia Rai – Director of Equality, Diversity and Inclusion at International Professional Security Association (IPSA).Also, Co-chair of The Security Institute Rainbow+ Group
Seetan Varsani – Director of Major Accounts & Strategic Development at Corps Security. Also, part of the committee for the IPSA Alliance Special Interest Group

Key points

Jayne King highlights that this webinar has been organised in Pride month, celebrating LBGTQ communities around the world. Tracing history we are reminded of the key triggers of progress in the last half century, including riots and struggles that bred enthusiasm for collective action. We are also invited to note that homophobic crimes are on the increase and that over 60 countries still criminalise homosexuality. It is an indication of the hurdles still to be overcome. Indeed, that an increase in hate crimes is anticipated in post Pride month is telling. There is a general lack of awareness; denials there is a problem; a reluctance by some to embrace change; a lack of focus on how people are recruited; leaders that are out of touch; a lack of Board level champions; and these all merit attention. When asked to point to a good initiative Jayne references the development of a category at the OSPAs, inspired by the Security Commonwealth – focusing on outstanding ED&I initiatives. This will be adopted in other countries and by other awards. 

Satia Rai states that while she has been a passionate member of the security sector for 25 years for most of that time she has not been able to be her true self, indeed it is only in the last two years she has started to feel comfortable. She has witnessed prejudice and suffered discrimination. As a sector security protects a diverse community and it needs to reflect that, and embedding inclusivity is important to ensure others don’t suffer; what happens at work has an enormous impact on families too. Last year Satia attended Birmingham Pride and saw police, the finance sector and others marching, while security was protecting. This year 300 members of the security sector will be marching; progress is very real, even if somewhat late. Too often companies, including leaders, pay lip service to supporting the LGBTQ+ community, this needs to change. In terms of good initiatives Satia pointed to the work of different interest groups, the value of collaboration and promoting a commitment to a supportive framework in all companies.

Seetan Varsani notes that there is now much more vocal and visible support that is positively impacting on the lived experience of the LGBTQ+ community. That said this is work in progress and it starts with allies calling out inappropriate behaviour; the industry needs to step up and move beyond the talking stage. There is energy there, the key is to harness it to best effect. For Seetan, a major barrier is the lack of funding. The community has not yet convincingly shown why engaging marginalised groups, specifically the LGBTQ+ community makes commercial sense; it has not addressed the economic questions. He laments that other sectors are more advanced. He calls for a focus on initiatives to increase understanding. That said strong and committed leadership is absolutely essential and a condition of being able to make an impact

When asked what they would do with a singly magic wish to change things, Satear argued for the education of people at all levels; Jayne stressed that ED&I has to be part of the strategy for all companies and their suppliers; while Seetan, called for greater recognition of the issues and a focus on responding effectively. The security sector has and is making progress, but this panel made clear there is still some way to go.

Martin Gill
23rd June, 2022