A lot of companies say all the right things about diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I), but when it comes to implementation, it’s easy to fall short. For the most part, many companies struggle to fully mature their programs. In fact, only 22% of companies in an HR Research Institute report claimed their DE&I initiatives were in “expert” or “advanced” stages; and only 9% rated their initiatives as highly effective.
But that doesn’t mean that companies don’t engage in strategic planning with DE&I in mind. The same survey found that 44% of respondents said that DE&I initiatives play a significant role in strategic planning for the future.
Why DE&I matters in security
In physical security, there’s a business benefit for hiring diverse talent – especially since the industry is primarily composed of males. In one report from Security Magazine, a quick, non-scientific review of the security executives included in the rankings was made up of at least 81% male in 2020. And while this may not be a scientific assessment of the broad physical security space, anyone who has ever walked a trade show floor would agree that security has a significant lack of diversity.
But it’s more than that. Diverse perspectives help broaden the scope of “what is safety” to more than one background or lived experience.
When we’re building a security platform based on artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning, DE&I means answering the questions:
- Are our AI models biased to flag suspicion for a particular race?
- Can we detect signs of sexual harassment or sexual assault?
- Are there other security threats that have been significantly under addressed because the safety has been dictated from the eyes of a singular persona?
Where to start
If you’re ready to start a DE&I initiative across your company, it can be difficult to start when it’s not something you’ve incorporated into your organization from the beginning. However, it’s important to begin with buy-in from leadership and a clear understanding of what it means.
Here’s a breakdown:
Start with taking a look at what your industry looks like. Read reports, talk to other leaders, and determine what a typical composition might be. Then aim to set goals that go beyond the average.
Start with your careers page. Taking a stance from the top-down is critical to ensuring your organization is embracing DE&I across the board. Communicate your hiring practices and focus on creating a diverse workforce on your careers or “about us” page so candidates understand the process.
Make a statement. On every job description, we have a “C.A.R.E.” statement that communicates our philosophy for how we treat our employees, focused on the individual, and highlighting how committed we are to cultivating this environment. But don’t just say it, follow through from the hiring process, to onboarding, and ongoing support for historically underrepresented groups.
Streamline recruiting. If it makes sense, try to keep recruiting new talent in-house and source referrals from your own workforce. Look at your own listings to refine descriptions and make it more targeted and avoid text that leans more masculine or feminine (there are gender decoder softwares that can help with this). It’s also critical to communicate with candidates directly if you don’t follow through on hiring them - they deserve that much for their time.
Diverse perspectives help broaden the scope of “what is safety” to more than one background or lived experience.
Be pay transparent. One way organizations can build equity is by establishing pay transparency. List salary ranges in the job description. Having a strict range is critical to the goal of equity because not following it for even just one person, you mess up the pay equity, and you’ve ruined everything for everyone. Typically, candidates respect that and it takes a lot of guesswork out of the negotiation process.
Think about ways to celebrate differences. Take time to celebrate uniqueness across your organization. Honoring celebrations, such as Pride, Black History, Hispanic Heritage, or Asian and Pacific Islander months can help build stronger bonds between employees, encourage inclusivity, and allow employees to feel like they are able to be their true selves at work.
Focus on retention. Having a one-size-fits-all approach to retention can be a mistake when you’re trying to support individual differences, so keeping that in mind when executing learning strategies and looking toward a person’s future with the company becomes important.
It’s important that beyond formal policies and procedures, companies that are committed to DE&I build a culture of being committed to making people feel like they can be themselves, no matter what. There’s an element of vulnerability to that and sometimes these conversations aren’t going to be perfect (and oftentimes even uncomfortable). But building a workplace where people feel supported and seen is a critical piece of the puzzle when it comes to building a solution that keeps people safe. It starts from within.
This article appears in our Workforce and Retention Guide: How Physical Security Benefits from Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DE&I) Initiatives.