Industry Expertise

Celebrating Black History Month: Getting to Know IOBSE with Bobby Louissaint and Khris Hamlin

When the International Organization for Black Security Executives (IOBSE) was formed in 1982, diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I) initiatives were a long way off and few resources were allocated to mentoring and supporting people of color in the security industry. IOBSE was created because the founding fathers of the organization looked around and didn’t see many security professionals who looked like them. 

In honor of Black History Month, HiveWatch is exploring the role IOBSE plays in the advancement of diverse industry leaders and building a solid foundation for people of color across the security space. IOBSE offers mentorship for students and early career professionals to support their career journeys, personal development, and engagement with more advanced security leaders. IOBSE also provides monthly education and training opportunities, as well as an in-person annual conference; and various committees tasked with helping members become the best possible professionals they can be. 

To find out more, we interviewed Khris Hamlin, IOBSE Director of Early Career Professionals Committee and Vice President of Asset Protection at RILA, and Bobby Louissaint, IOBSE Director of Communications and Head of Technical Partnership Engagements at Meta, about their roles and how the organization is fulfilling its vision of, “Developing future industry leaders for tomorrow’s domestic and global security challenges.” 

How did you get involved?

Hamlin: As I started to grow in my career – I was approaching my first VP-level role with Macy’s – one of my leaders who was instrumental in my success asked to have a candid conversation with me about showing up authentically as a person of color. This person recognized their limitations in how I was mentored as a leader and suggested that I seek out the IOBSE to help further my career. The company sponsored me to join and I became heavily involved, more recently as the Director of Early Career Professionals committee. 

Louissaint: The main reason is because I’m black, and at the time, I wasn’t aware an organization like the IOBSE existed for people of color. As I became more involved and started to attend shows and meetings, I realized it was a great network for me of security industry professionals that I could lean on for support in my career. I loved what they did with students and being able to educate them about careers they weren’t aware of that are available in the security industry. 

What are some of the ways that IOBSE supports its members?

Hamlin: In my committee, we focus on early career professionals. The purpose is to engage those who are early on in their career, mid-career, or those transitioning into the security industry to provide mentorship and sponsorship opportunities for them. As part of this, we put together monthly programming to foster growth and learning, as well as an in-person session at our annual conference. In 2024, the focus is on formalizing a personal and professional mentorship program that runs for 11 months, matching these early career professionals with more advanced members of the organization who can help guide them in their personal and professional growth. 

Louissaint: IOBSE shares opportunities for advancement – whether through job postings or webinars and thought leadership – via email with the entire membership. Additionally, IOBSE plans events and training opportunities, provides scholarships to students to support education, and supports young professionals with the support they need as they begin their career in the security space.

"DE&I can’t be something that is just on a piece of paper; it has to be a value that’s instilled across the organization that each leader and employee believes in. It has to be part of the culture of the organization, embedded at every level." - Khris Hamlin

How can organizations achieve more diversity and inclusion across their hiring (and retention) practices?

Hamlin: For me, I always go back to the idea that DE&I can’t be something that is just on a piece of paper; it has to be a value that’s instilled across the organization that each leader and employee believes in. It has to be part of the culture of the organization, embedded at every level. 

Louissaint: This falls back to engagement with organizations like IOBSE, which provides companies with the ability to support DEI efforts externally. Having the ability to get involved provides a more open experience and understanding for employees about how to work with different cultures, preferences, and being able to accept how different experiences translate to the workplace.

What are some of the best ways that companies can support their minority security professionals?

Hamlin: When you have a leader that can be candid and direct, and approach you from a “they are your boss but they’re invested in your future” kind of relationship, that’s where the magic happens. When a leader can admit that there are areas that they’re not equipped to support or know their limitations, while providing a safe space for people to be themselves – that’s when true support is possible. At that point, having partnerships and resources that are actively engaged with supporting people of color at any juncture in their career is critical, and that’s where the IOBSE comes in as a resource, place for mentorship, and support mechanism. 

Lousissaint: For IOBSE, we are a nonprofit, so sponsorships and memberships are important. But what’s even more valuable is getting involved and engaging with the organization and the professionals we support. We are open to everyone’s involvement as a fully inclusive organization, so we look for support in many different ways. Though we appreciate sponsorships, it’s also about having the appropriate people engaged at our annual conference, which provides the highest value to not only the network of professionals and those early in their career, but the students as well. 

How to get involved in IOBSE

For those interested in becoming involved with IOBSE, Louissaint suggests starting with an annual membership and seeing where you might fit in, whether it’s on a committee or as a speaker or mentor. If your organization would like more information about becoming a sponsor for IOBSE or being involved in the upcoming annual conference (being held at Amazon in Seattle, Aug. 6-8, 2024), click here

Topics: DEI in Security

Jenna Hardie
Jenna Hardie

Jenna Hardie is senior manager, content and PR, for HiveWatch, a physical security software company reimagining how organizations keep their people and assets safe. Hardie has worked in the physical security, cybersecurity, and high-tech space for the last nine years, driving brand awareness, media relations, marketing, and communications initiatives.

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