Magazine article Security Management

The Time for Urgency Is Now

Magazine article Security Management

The Time for Urgency Is Now

Article excerpt

War, terrorism, workplace violence, sabotage, theft ... the list of security-related worries preoccupying today's executive seems to grow each year. Who can predict what looms on the horizon? It's easy to pretend that corporations cannot shield themselves from these threats. Publicized tragedies heighten vigilance: anthrax made people think twice about opening parcels, workplace shootings led to new focus on disgruntled employees, and the September 11 attacks united the nation in a fight against terrorism. Unfortunately, complacency seems always to return with time.

Do you compromise on security when it comes to protecting your family? Experts know that the more you do, the safer you are. Workplace security is no different; only the stakes are much greater. A large corporation is like an extended family living in a huge neighborhood: the chance of something going wrong somewhere increases with scale and there are more lives and livelihoods at risk.

Not all organizations think about security in terms of its total cost--at their peril. Some corporate budgets measure the dollars spent on security personnel and equipment but ignore the costs of crime and terror--the human tragedy, the liability expenses, the legal fees, the public relations and crisis management costs, the increased insurance premiums, the lost revenue from business interruption, the shaken confidence of customers and shareholders, the devastation in employee morale. Consider one example: A terminated employee, heavily armed, gains unauthorized entry past a new and inexperienced security officer. A single mistake, and several minutes later, lives are lost. Just one such tragic incident can jeopardize the future survival of an entire organization.

When companies view security services as a commodity, that is what they get. Some purchasing departments often only look at the unit cost, selecting the lowest bidder. Many service providers then compete by minimizing their investment in wages, training and employee screening. Transient hourly employees treat their jobs in a perfunctory way. With limited authority, security managers cannot invest in quality or innovation. And yet if a serious incident occurs, they take the blame for failing to bring in a quality provider. This vicious circle detracts from buying the necessary value and focusing on what truly counts in security--results.

Being serious about security is not just about employing more security officers or buying more technological equipment. It is about approaching security in a different, smarter way. It is about knowing the backgrounds of one's employees and on-site contractors. It is about ensuring that the one person accountable for security also purchases security. It is about considering the realm of possible threats and developing proactive solutions. It is about forming vendor partnerships to give others a stake in ensuring that all that can be done is done. It is about a commitment to total quality.

No entity can be entirely immune from crime and terrorism. When organizations commit time and resources to an urgent focus on security, however, they can minimize risk and create tangible value. A thoughtful security infrastructure supported by dedicated, energetic employees offers a shield against attack and often surpasses the traditional call of duty: responding to an accident on the shop floor and saving an employee's life or detecting a mechanical malfunction that could lead to a plant shutdown. A strong security program also acts as a deterrent. …

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