If we’ve learned anything the last couple of years while building HiveWatch, it’s: representation matters. It shows in the leadership team being built, in the diversity of our team, and in the experiences each person brings to the table from inside and outside of the industry.
As part of the dedication the company has toward celebrating a diverse workforce, we prioritize coming together monthly to learn, grow, and encourage individuality.
This month, the celebration is around Black History, and our “Culture Crew” planned a Lunch & Learn event, featuring panelists from the team, including GSOC Supervisor Jarred Townson, Customer Adoption Specialist Katina Simmons, and Sales Development Representative Dwayne Johnson.
'If we don't know better, we can't do better'
In the discussion, which centered around the shared experiences of the panelists, as well as their entry into physical security, the conversation veered into their lived experiences as Black Americans.
Katina got her start in physical security at the age of 19, working for a guarding company in dispatch communications, later transitioning to a role in global security operations as an analyst, working in corrections, and then joining HiveWatch. “I’ve brought all of these roles and the knowledge I’ve gained with me working in the field, on events, and as a site supervisor; the determination and structure,” she said.
Jarred began his career in music, which has been a central part of his life since he was a kid, as the grandson of 6-time Grammy winner Ronald Townson. He melded his love of music with security, working across the festival circuit at events like Coachella and Stagecoach, leading teams of security officers in ensuring safe spaces for creativity to shine. He also provided protection services for musical artists, and brought that knowledge of risk management and assessment to the table as part of the HiveWatch GSOC team.
For Dwayne, HiveWatch serves as his first foray into physical security, but he pulls from his time in the NFL into his role, sharing, “I came into HiveWatch treating it like a locker room, where we have people from different backgrounds who are expected to work together for a common purpose.”
Panelists emphasized that showing up as yourself, not giving into pressures to completely change to fit within a culture, and calling out discrimination when it happens (even when it's difficult) can help contribute to a changed narrative in the corporate world.
From the importance of representation, to code-switching, to discrimination, to microaggressions, all three panelists shared with the entire organization their lived experiences and invited their peers to learn from them. Panelists emphasized that showing up as yourself, not giving into pressures to completely change to fit within a culture, and calling out discrimination when it happens (even when it’s difficult) can help contribute to a changed narrative in the corporate world.
“We haven’t had the same experiences, and instead of assuming and basing things on stereotypes, you can ask simple questions,” Jarred said. “If we’re here trying to learn, it’s important to ask and be aware of the assumptions you make about people.”
Company culture plays a lot into how Black Americans experience discrimination, according to the panelists. One of the biggest takeaways from the discussion stems from creating a culture of celebrating differences, building relationships, and fostering the mindset of learning. “People can choose to be informed or choose to be ignorant. And I commend you for wanting to be properly informed,” Katina said to attendees.
The Impact of Black History on Physical Security
The Security Industry Association (SIA), the International Organization of Black Security Executives (IOBSE), and ASIS International recently posted a series of conversations about Black History Month aimed at providing “a springboard to deeper understanding and conversations in workplaces around the world.”
In the discussion, leaders mention the roots of security around African American inventor Marie Van Brittan Brown, whose ingenuity contributed to the invention of the first home security system. She’s credited with the creation of the first closed-circuit television security system, which paved the way for modern home security systems used today.
In physical security, differing perspectives can help strengthen incident response and risk management strategy. DE&I initiatives bring a multitude of benefits to an organization including the ability to make employees feel safe, respected, connected, more innovative, and give employees a sense of belonging, leading to greater retention.
Learn more about these initiatives for physical security here.
"People can choose to be informed or choose to be ignorant. And I commend you for wanting to be properly informed." - Katina Simmons