Security remains one of those need-to-have services that many people do not fully appreciate the value of. They understand the core function of security to protect their businesses and physical assets, but their understanding often stops there and they fail to appreciate the degree to which the most effective security will also protect their reputation in both their marketplace and local community.
While it is impossible to apply a blanket example across all organisations (because they will all be vastly different), we can at least make an assumption that they will all need to be seen as a safe and responsible operation by their own customers. Much has been made of the Data Protection Act in recent decades and the need to handle personal data with great care. Those organisations that have suffered high profile hacks and loss of data have had to work hard to repair their damaged reputation. But the same applies to physical customer property, and a jeweller that loses customers’ watches that have been put in for repair would face a similar challenge to repair their reputation.
So of course, security has an obvious role in protecting reputation in the marketplace, but what about the organisation’s wider reputation?
Security, and indeed policing, benefit from sensitive and appropriate execution. America is currently suffering something of a crisis due to highly publicised examples of inappropriate policing that is only succeeding in upsetting the relationship between public and security services. We don’t have these issues with policing in the UK fortunately, but the crisis in policing in some parts of America serves as a reminder of the importance of sensitivity and a balanced response in the delivery of any security function. Just as the occasional examples of bad policing are damaging the American ‘brand’, so poor or inappropriate security execution can damage the client’s brand. I’m sure we can all remember the days when poor door security would work against the reputation of clubs and pubs.
Of course, for a great many businesses and organisations, reputation extends beyond the mere marketplace. Increasingly businesses are embracing CSR and community relations for a number of reasons. Companies that have strong CSR cultures will undoubtedly gain a competitive edge, especially if they work for local government because public sector tenders favour, and indeed demand strong CSR commitment. At the same time, businesses that develop strong and positive relationships with their local community will benefit from an operational point of view and, in the best cases, will be held in high regard and highly valued.
This is where the security function can add real value. When security reaches out to the local community and shows itself to be something more than merely protection for the business, the job of security is made that much easier, and the reputation of the business is strengthened. This outreach can take the form of simple liaison which reassures local residents and other businesses, and which also helps to give the security team a better understanding of concerns and vulnerabilities.
While it would be a stretch to claim that well delivered security could be included in the CSR portfolio of the organisation, there is certainly no reason why security can’t roll up its sleeves and deliver for the community. At Ward security we were delighted recently when three or our staff were nominated for national awards. The clients were making the nominations and on each occasion they highlighted the degree to which our staff has gone over and above the call of duty. One of the security operatives had been nominated by a Facilities Manager in recognition of 14 years organising events on behalf of good causes which had raised an estimated total of around £90,000. Clearly in this case the length of time of the relationship, along with the charitable work illustrates the degree to which security can be so much more than just ‘security’. It can deliver real value, and it can be truly valued.