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ASIS Toronto Women in Security 2021: Salary negotiations and overcoming racial prejudices


The Women in Security event for 2021 put key contemporary issues in the spotlight during the two-hour virtual discussion hosted by the Toronto chapter of ASIS International on Nov. 18.

Author, educator, entrepreneur and keynote speaker Fotini Iconomopoulos led the afternoon with a lecture on negotiating a higher salary — a timely topic as the pandemic has brought people to reflect on their careers and in many cases leave their positions all together.

She spoke of a 2003 study which showed only seven per cent of recent graduates who negotiated their salaries were female while 57 per cent were male.

“Great negotiators aren’t born that way,” she said to her virtual audience. “It takes study and practice as well as the right mindset.”

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Among the key concepts she shared was the notion that people can achieve more by saying less during negotiations.

Iconomopoulos said that people’s fight or flight responses are activated in these scenarios which can cause them to say too much.

“It is in these moments that people lose thousands of dollars in seconds,” she said.

In her toolbox of negotiation techniques, Iconomopoulos referred to the “mental pause” button to deter from giving away too much in words and ask questions to buy time to think instead.

She also spoke of her own personal experiences in negotiations where people have made triggering remarks to her, such as one instance where she was called “little girl.”

Rather than burst out in anger, Iconomopoulos said to use these moments as opportunities to negotiate a better situation for oneself. She said this can be done by responding with a question to refocus the discussion as in her personal experience where she said, “What does my age have to do with the data I have presented?”

The next speaker was introduced as part of ASIS Toronto’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee, which is chaired by Chelsea Herman.

Dr. Joseph Smith is an award-winning educator, facilitator and community worker who uses his expertise to help corporations develop and implement their own anti-racism policies.

His presentation centred around overcoming discomforts or what he called “fragilities” in discussions of race.

He defined such fragilities as the emotional rejection of conversations or actions meant to expose injustices, discriminations and prejudices embedded into social structures, institutions and personal relationships.

Dr. Smith told his virtual audience that fragilities around DE&I topics are not germane to anyone specific. Rather, they are products of social conditioning which all people have endured.

To give a historical context for the heavier policing of certain communities seen today, he introduced the colonial era definition of property from the 17th century philosopher John Locke. As Dr. Smith explained, Locke defined property as the intermingling of nature with man’s ability to reason. Locke’s definition excluded non-white persons from those with a capacity to reason; therefore, persons of African descent and Indigenous people could not own property but could be owned as property themselves.

According to Dr. Smith, this colonial definition of property influenced legal frameworks and banking systems that enacted what he called “hyper-surveillance” of people from marginalized groups who worked hard to own property despite social constructs meant to restrict their financial growth.

“When we mindlessly accept social constructs as being inherent, we become accomplices to the constructs that endanger the lives of others,” said Dr. Smith.

Prior to the virtual event, ASIS Toronto announced the results of its 2022 executive committee election process. The 2022 executive is as follows:

Chair: Rick Snook
Vice-chair: Sherri Ireland
Treasurer: Rodrigo Eng
Secretary: Monika Lal

The new executive will be installed at the chapter’s next official meeting.