Traditionally security has always been a male-dominated world, even in an age where more and more people are pushing for diversity. But some areas still have their pigeonholes.
Overcoming stereotypes is the biggest problem that women face when trying to enter the security industry. If people assume a man has more knowledge, or always address their emails ‘Dear Sir’, is it any wonder that women are put off?
The imbalance needs addressing and quickly. Women are and will continue to be an incredible asset to the security industry, but what makes them so beneficial? Security experts for UK homes and businesses, Expert Security UK asked three women at the top of their game in the security world.
Attention to detail, strong surveillance and the ability to work well with others. There are many skills that are key to working in the security industry. And at the top of the list is having excellent communication skills. No matter what part of the industry or the task at hand, whether you’re integrating a new security product, troubleshooting a problem or educating clients, strong communication is important.
‘Being a woman in the security industry, I have faced many problems,’ says Lauren Bilney, Office and Vetting Manager at White Star Security Services. ‘Many people stereotype a security officer and what they should look like. A security officer is a person no matter what age, gender, height, weight and sexuality you are, a security officer can be anyone.
‘Of all the personal challenges I have faced in the security industry such as, one of the biggest is being stereotyped for my appearance. I look too young to be in security and I’m not built to be a security officer. People’s expectations of a security officer is a muscular male.
‘Women are an asset to the security industry because women can access areas where men can’t. We often have better communication skills that can defuse a situation and can offer a better and more level-headed approach. The security industry is always changing, and right now it is adapting into a place where women are more involved than ever.’
Whether you’re a security guard who works with people one-on-one when a situation arises, or you specialise in providing cybersecurity services, it’s important that you’re able to relate to the people you are helping. Take the example of a lost child, if you can’t empathise with the worried parent, how are you going to be able to encourage them to keep calm until the situation is resolved? Good empathy is also a key part in building strong relationships, which you’ll need to keep loyal clients coming back for your services year after year.
Leah Booth, Project and Service Coordinator at Expert Security UK, explains more: ‘I am a mother of two and work full-time. So it can be stressful and I have to multitask to ensure things get done. I find that myself and other women can cope better with stress and have good organisational skills.
‘Women can prioritise well and have good communication skills to deal with the task at hand. Women have a good eye for detail and often ensure that goals are met. I also find some women are good at relating to others through empathy and this can be better for dealing with disputes and tension.
Many women have a way with keeping the customer happy, in being efficient, keeping in contact and building that customer relationship. People find it easier to confide in a women and women are good listeners, which is good for relationship and team building within a business.
‘In a nutshell, I feel women are good at multitasking and dealing with many difficult challenges head on and have the ability of achieving results. Security companies hire women for long-term success!’
It’s a simple fact that women often feel more comfortable approaching and speaking to other women, especially when out and about and faced with the intimidating nature of a uniform. Imagine you’re a mum in a shopping centre and you lose your child or feel uncomfortable around another shopper, it’s completely natural to feel more secure approaching a female security guard. Because that is what the job of security is all about; making people feel safe.
‘The role of a female working in the security industry is to give balance,’ says Joy Darch of VIP Security Services. ‘We work alongside our male colleagues and deal with all incidents on equal terms. This can be difficult when working with some cultures as women are not recognised as equal. Also, size and build can also be a factor. Many male security guards have quite a physical presence, which can help ward off threats, but not all of us ladies are built in the same way. We may not be the same size or have the same physical strength, but with women on the front line we’re more adept at reacting to situations and deal with problems professionally.
‘Sometimes it’s tricky to generalise, but like in life, women are usually better than men at dealing with males in heated situations. We’re good mediators and we’re able to get guys to see another side of the argument and to just “quieten down” take some time out, which in many incidents is enough to quell a situation. It’s also ideal for women to see female security guards as sometimes they may feel more able to talk or reach out to a woman than a man.’
Women are becoming the security industry’s biggest asset, now that companies in this industry are backing their female employees, they’ll go from strength to strength leading the way for future women in security.
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