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Ontario Minimum Wage Increase and the Security Industry

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Ontario’s pay rate increase is legislated to take effect January 1, 2018, and January 1, 2019. Maybe this is perfect timing to discuss the security industry. The goal of all security companies is to recruit best in class security guards. I think it is time for the industry to get the opportunity to re-define the security profession. Back in 2002 when I started in the industry, I recall there used to be a line of candidates in the office wanting to become security guards. Today this does not happen anymore! The ministry has changed the licensing requirements. So, to even be considered, the ministry has mandated that applicants invest 40 hours of training, pay to register and get their security licence.

This can cost a perspective security professional in upwards of $350.00 to get licensed. In addition, if the applicant is currently employed in a different sector, the candidate would have to take numerous days off for training to qualify for the license. What would motivate someone to invest in this process? Maybe it is time for security services to take a hard look and re-evaluate its process and pay grade and collectively set the benchmark for the industry to bring back applicants knocking on our doors.

Please comment on this post as I welcome any feedback.

Posted in: Protective Services and Investigations

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Post Order Confusion

shutterstock_172646537Everybody in our industry can explain the importance of post orders as a means to clarify roles and responsibilities between parties involved. The most commonly used definition is: Post orders are written documents that clearly outline duties, responsibilities, and expectations of security guards. The client, service provider and security professional fulfilling the role can find out what is expected by looking at the post orders. Often the post orders become extensive and complex. Some sections can be used as a manual in non-urgent situations, while other parts are essential and describe actions that need to be taken in emergencies. To ensure guards know what to do, they should be trained and quizzed regularly. The use of quick reference cards has proven helpful and can also be used as instructions for short term assignments. It is also important to explain the logic behind the procedures. If it makes sense to someone, it is easier to follow and remember.

Even when guards are well trained and know the post orders, they can fail. Specifically in situations when instructions are not fully detailed in the post orders or when it differs from the normal course of action.

On December 19th, 2016, an unexpected tragedy shook the diplomatic world; Russia’s Ambassador to Turkey, Andrei Karlov was assassinated at an art gallery exhibition in front of several TV cameras. Mevlut Mert Altintas, an off-duty police officer, shot him. Although the post orders apparently outlined how to act in a situation like this, the security officers got confused. They should have refused access and inquired with managing authorities before letting the off-duty police officer in. Instead, they were intimidated by the police badge and let him through.

Another example is seen in the film Snowden, when Edward Snowden makes copies of confidential files and exits the CIA building with the files. At the risk of a “spoiler alert” I will refrain from revealing further details, but the post orders were not followed thus leading to an international scandal.

In short, post orders are essential and should be followed to the letter. Training and testing are essential to keep security officers on their toes. Moreover, when in doubt, no access should be given until further verification has been confirmed.

Posted in: Protective Services and Investigations

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Diversity in the Guarding Industry

There are several definitions describing diversity, but it generally means understanding that each individual is unique, and recognizing individual differences. These can be along the dimensions of race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, age, physical abilities, religious beliefs, political beliefs, or other ideologies.

Within the security industry, the most prevalent discussions are around the small percentage of women working as security professionals and guards. There are variances by country, but generally, the percentage of security licence holders is somewhere between 8-20%. People with physical disabilities are hardly represented (1-2%) despite the fact that many roles do not require physical intervention. Research on gender, ethnic minorities, and disabilities showed that the private security industry also had a lower percentage when compared to industries such as passenger transport, facility management and policing.

It may be important for the industry to address its lack of diversity and equality. There is a consensus that a greater commitment to equality and diversity in the private security industry would improve industry perceptions. However creating this more equal and diverse industry would be challenging. Overcoming the negative perception of the industry is a significant task. Securing a commitment to equality and diversity from buyers of security services, who shape demand, can also be an obstacle. Another challenge is the lack of professionalism and career progression, which means certain minority groups are not attracted to working within the industry.

A way to improve the situation is through highlighting career possibilities as a way to attract more diverse applicants. Sharing positive experiences and case studies can also be important.

To change the situation for women in the industry, it is important that employers integrate gender into all staff training and all company policies and codes of conduct that would logically address gender equality and the benefits of diversity. Of course, issues of sexual harassment, violence, internal discrimination and other human rights violations also need to be addressed directly. When possible, promoting qualified women into positions of authority within the company would send a powerful message about competence and acceptance.

Prosegur, the third largest security company in the world, is led by a woman; Helena Revoredo. Still the track record of her company on gender balance leaves a lot to be desired. We need employers, such as Ms. Revoredo, to take decisive steps to cultivate a culture of gender inclusion.

There already is a large diversity when it comes to ethnicity in the guard force. Employees from different backgrounds, many of them immigrants have joined guarding companies. In order to ensure a proper alignment and integration within the company culture, a thorough understanding is key. More and more companies are implementing diversity training for their employees, management and field staff. This is beneficial from the perspective of understanding one another within the workforce, but equally important when dealing with diverse customers at large.

Posted in: Protective Services and Investigations

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