Pride and the security sector – Celebrating our LGBTQ+ Employees

Jun 2, 2023Webinars and Blogs

Every June, the LGBTQ+ community across the globe organises a range of events to recognising the influence LGBTQ+ people. It is timely then to assess what is happening in the security sector. Are tangible and progressive actions being taken to be truly inclusive? Are the right sort of collaborations taking place and how are they faring? This webinar we will discuss:

  • In what ways and how is the LGBTQ+ community becoming visible?
  • Is the security sector making the workplace more inclusive for the LGBTQ+ community? Where are the gaps?
  • What has been the attitude of the C-suite and how, if at all, is it changing?

Chair: Professor Martin Gill

Satia Rai – CEO, International Professional Security Association
Oliver Lincoln – UK Sales Manager & Chair for Pride Network Group, Securitas UK
Heather MacDonald – Enterprise Account Executive & DEI Advocate at Resolver, a Kroll Business

Key points
Satia Rai starts by describing her own experience as an Asian gay person and the difficulties faced in coming out as gay; it is easier when the world is more accepting. Often though it isn’t, we are reminded that 68 countries criminalise the LGBT community in some cases it is punishable by death,  Uganda is identified as an extreme case. Moreover, 1 in 5 LGBT+ people are targeted at some point, a third at least sometimes hide who they are. Satia emphasises the importance of belonging and the workplace needs to facilitate that, and Satia emphasises that this is a decision each company can make.  There are signs things are getting better, but there is a need for more c suit buy in, particularly in smaller companies, and there is a lot that can be done with training and education. Moreover, there are 9 key dates to engage with the community – there is a specific discussion about London gay pride – and show support; we could all do that. 

Oliver Lincoln notes that he joined the security sector 7 years ago and found that the perception of coming but was far worse than the reality. Yet, many find being part of the community challenging; LGBT+ teenagers are twice as likely to commit suicide. The security sector is trying to become more inclusive and employers can provide colleagues with a safe place to work but that is crucially dependent on executive level support. Ollie thinks there are gaps in the commitment of the security sector to being inclusive, trans people in particular face challenges. You will hear a discussion about the importance of language – Ollie has a degree in languages – and underlines the importance of challenging inappropriate vocabulary such as ‘manned guarding’ and ‘manpower’, and assuming that as a man he must have a wife instead of a partner. People need to be better supported, there needs to be more open discussion of the key issues, LGBT+ needs to be a bigger priority, diversity targets are a bad idea. 

Heather MacDonald notes that the long time it took to have confidence to come out had an adverse effect on her mental health. Creating safe places is in part about understanding LGBT+ concerns and responding to them appropriately and there are gaps, including at conferences. The good thing about working in security, a point often missed, is that it is about reducing risk and keeping people safe. Yet it is still mainly men, often from a uniformed background, and that needs to be more rigorously challenged. Heather encourages people to state their pronoun preferences, it is part of creating a safe place, and calls for more senior people in the security sector from a LGBT+ background championing the cause and providing a reference point. There is a need for the community to articulate the benefits of diversity in business terms after all the business case is well rehearsed, just more people need to know about it. 

When asked what their priorities would be for instigating change, Oliver and Heather focussed on changing perceptions, Satia took a different focus point by promoting the benefits of engagement and encouraging attendance at a Pride event and benefiting from the sense of belonging it generates. 

Professor Martin Gill
1st June 2023

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