Canadian Security Magazine

Reading between the numbers

Jennifer Brown   

Features Opinion

Our first salary survey of the security industry in Canada produced some interesting results, but they didn’t entirely surprise me, unfortunately. While I was impressed with the number of respondents who took the time to answer the questions that were put together by Mike McPherson and the executive team from CSIS and the Canadian Security staff, the answers were fairly predictable.

It’s no surprise that training remains the No. 1 occupational safety
concern for those in the industry, followed closely by bullying and
harassment. Wages were the top workplace concern, followed by work-life
balance. However, those two issues could easily be top concerns for
most Canadians these days.

What did impress me was how many respondents included comments about
how, despite concerns about lack of training and low wages, they had a
passion for their chosen career and many would recommend it to others.
In his comments about why wages remain an issue, Kevin Murphy of CSIS
says security is perceived as an overhead cost for most businesses
since it doesn’t contribute to the bottom line. While it may be fact
that a security department can’t generate revenue (although some in the
U.S. have found a way to do it), it can demonstrate value and perhaps
that is where leaders in the industry are falling down.

They need to place their focus on a better outcomes for their employees
and make security more appealing as a career destination.

Security departments and companies that employ security people need to
get over this idea that spending on training and paying people to
obtain training is somehow a waste of corporate resources. The argument
that investing in a security employee today might mean they could leave
tomorrow for a better paying job at another company is shared by many
industries so why is security continuing to use it as an excuse not to
provide training?


By choosing to train me on new electronic publishing skills my company
is taking a small gamble, but for the most part, they benefit whether
it’s the short term or the long term.

Think about it: if you pay for an employee to take use-of-force
training consider what your overall outcome will be — not just the
one-time cost of that person sitting in a classroom.

What was also fairly predictable but alarming none-the-less was the
number of women represented in the survey — just 15 per cent. The same
week we were putting the numbers together for the salary survey story
in this issue, a member of our editorial advisory board suggested I do
a story on women who have achieved significant leadership positions in
the industry, citing a number of women he knew about in high-level
security positions.

His thoughts were that in exploring their achievements, we might
encourage more women to enter the security industry. I agree, and
perhaps there needs to be a mentoring program in the industry to help
women see that they can hold significant roles in an exciting industry
and bring a different approach to risk and crisis management.

The reality is that the women I have met in this industry hold jobs
with huge responsibility and while they do not always appear on the
speaking circuit touting their knowledge, as their male counterparts
do, they are running efficient operations and they are being
compensated well for what they do.

We hope to launch future workplace-related surveys and welcome your input on what you would like to see explored. Let us know.

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