Within in the modern business world security management has taken on a wider role than just the idea of a sole night watchman. Today’s security manager needs to have a much broader understanding of their role with in the structure of the corporate world. The idea of the security department of any organisation being in the business of telling people what they cannot do is counter productive. A security manager now needs to ensure they are completely in tune with the strategic goals of their company and be able to facilitate the reduction of loss and risks. We will now take a closer look at what the area of security management entails.
Security management is the process of protecting a company or organisations assets, whether physical or intellectual, whilst supporting the strategic goals. Along side the protection of the physical and intellectual property is also important for the security manager to consider the reputation and image of the company when designing any policies to be implemented. To much security can be a detrimental to the company in terms of cost and image, whereas a lack of security leaves vulnerabilities unchecked. The adage “security measures must be commensurate to the threat” leaves the security manager trying to find the balance between an overbearing and restrictive security regime and leaving a company open to threats by having to little security, as well as working with in a defined budget. It is prudent to ensure everyone within the company is fully engaged with the security policies and procedures, from the top level management to the shop floor workers. The need to understand everybody is responsible for security, from a clean desk policy of top management down to preventing and reporting of tailgating through security barriers, from the reporting of petty pilfering of company stationary to the careless discussion of sensitive business outside of the work place. All of these things and more can lead to losses, which the board will feel in the profit margins and worker’s can ultimately feel in their pay packets or job security.
As this is being written I find myself in a situation where a lot of the pertinent principles of security are being tested. Currently there is large scale civil unrest in the province, mass protests against the work and living conditions of the population, a lack of electricity, civil services and work. These have led to large protests restricting the freedom movement of all foreign oil companies. It has shown a large disparity in the crisis management and contingency planning across a wide variety of international companies.
What started as peaceful but vocal demonstrations, by the local population calling for more locals and less expat’s to be given work, became increased in size and violent after government “controlled” security forces over reacted and shot and killed a two of the demonstrators. This has caused a what was a small scale and locally contained demonstration to gain wider support base and mobilisation of the wider population. The incident has shown how security measures should be commensurate to the risk in great detail. The deployment of security forces by the regional government and their over reaction to the protest, resulting in the death of protesters has only exasperated the situation. While the use of government sanctioned security forces to control the outer perimeter of the oilfields shows the “defence in depth” principle and gives early warning of threats to the business’s, it all so demonstrates that the quality of security is a difficulty that must be overcome.
“Ideally, public law enforcement and private security agencies should work closely together, because their respective roles are complementary in the effort to control crime.”
1Private Security: Report of the Task Force on Private Security (Cincinnati, OH: Anderson), p. 19.
Even with close integration between the companies and the security forces, providing training and mentoring, the auditing of policies and procedures ,the provision of security equipment such as x-ray scanners and search dogs, the quality of the security provided has to be a closely monitored activity. The investment of time and resources can lead to a false sense of security that becomes very apparent when challenging situations arise.
At the first sign’s of civil unrest some companies carried out their prearranged evacuation plans. This show’s the way some corporations value the safety of their staff and employees over the profit margins. Obviously this can be double edged, were as the evacuation of expatriate staff can be seen favourably as safety and security over profit margins, but it can also be interpreted by the host nation workers and staff as abandonment and a lack of investment in their safety and well being. This illustrates the fine balance security managers must strike when carrying out risk analysis.