Everyone in security understands the significance of events, such as trade shows, road shows, seminars, galas and meet-and-greets. Whether virtual or in-person, these gatherings are important for a number of reasons.
Role of security events
For start-ups and high-profile manufacturers alike, security events have been the place to display new products, interact with key customers and strengthen existing partnerships. They serve as a forecast for evolution, showcasing the latest advancements in security technologies and organizing educational seminars, dedicated to these topics.
From a workforce standpoint, security events have also acted as a microcosm of the security industry
From a workforce standpoint, security events have also acted as a microcosm of the security industry. While traditionally there has been a lack of representation of women and minorities at these events, there have been many changes. Now, there are initiatives in place to strategically cultivate more diversity, which bodes well for the industry’s future moving forward.
The role of representation
When I first entered the industry as an account executive in the mid-1990s, it was clear to me that it was primarily men who were the decision makers and stakeholders. It was men who spoke at these conferences, discussing key trends in the marketplace.
Early on, I realized that if a woman wanted to succeed in a career in this industry, she would have to go to great lengths to prove her value, to earn the respect of her colleagues. And that was just to get a seat at the table. Twenty-five years ago, a woman in a C-suite or leadership position was an even rarer sight.
More women representation in senior executive roles
However, I have seen the security industry come a long way. In the decades since I entered it, my cause has been advocating for change and I can proudly say that we’ve made a lot of progress. More women are in management and senior executive roles at security companies today than ever before. When I walk into the room for a meeting, I’m not the only woman. There are a handful of us now. More women are speaking on panels and giving keynote sessions at security seminars and conferences.
Moreover, there has been a tangible shift in the industry to champion women and diversity in the workforce. This is clearly seen by the creation of groups to advocate for these causes. In March of 2018, the Security Industry Association (SIA) launched its Women in Security Forum, in order to support the participation and growth of women in the industry.
SIA Women in Security Forum
As a group that offers programs, professional development opportunities and networking events for women, the SIA Women in Security Forum has done a lot of work to encourage and support women, which is one of the reasons I chose to join.
Through the group’s initiatives, such as the SIA Progress Award, female-led ISC West panels and the SECURE Perspectives column, women are gaining a platform for discussion and influence. Groups like these set a new standard of inclusivity.
The importance of visibility
In recent years, there have been a number of exciting milestones and achievements for women across all industries
I have always believed in the power of role models. When you see someone who looks like you, can do something you didn’t believe you could do yourself, your thinking inevitably changes. That’s why representation is so crucial, as if women don’t see other women in positions of prominence, it can be harder to pursue audacious goals.
In recent years, there have been a number of exciting milestones and achievements for women across all industries, from entertainment to government. In 2017, Warner Brother’s Wonder Woman, both headlined and directed by a woman, became one of the highest growing superhero origin films of all time, earning about US$ 822 million worldwide. In the 2018 U.S. mid-term election, more women were elected to the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate than ever before, according to CNBC.
In 2020, the people of the U.S. elected their first female Vice President. All of this serves to change the narrative about women and reinforce that our ideas, initiative and expertise play an instrumental role in the positive growth of this country.
Representation, a powerful psychological tool
In summary, when it comes to the security industry and key events, it’s important for organizers to proactively plan who’s being featured, who’s leading education sessions, who’s handing out awards and more.
Representation is a powerful psychological tool that can either empower and embolden, or marginalize and discourage. Embracing and celebrating diversity will only better the security industry, and lead to greater success.