EXCLUSIVE: ASIS UK Chairman interviewed by members of the security industry.

July 17th 2019

In this Infologue.com exclusive we facilitated the interview of David Clark, Chairman of ASIS UK. ASIS International is the world’s largest organization for security professionals in the world, headquartered in Alexandria, Virginia. ASIS has over 35,000 members worldwide and is growing quickly since entering the UK market. ASIS UK is patronized by Baroness Angela Harris of Richmond, is a member of the SIA Strategic Forum and is regularly involved with many of the major events that go on throughout the year in the industry.

David Clark, CPP, PCI, PSP has been involved with the security industry for 25 years following his time in the British Army. He has held senior positions at security service providers as well as running in-house security for prestigious organizations such as his current employer, the Francis Crick Institute.

In a similar format to the interview we did with the BSIA (here and here), we opened the questions to the industry at large.

Gemma Quirke, Security Managing Director at Wilson James asks:

1. What steps are ASIS taking with the client community to halt the decline of ‘security’ being purchased as a commodity?

At ASIS UK events, the importance of security industry as a profession is readily and actively promoted. ASIS UK fully supports the efforts of government with the national living wage, the Mayor’s office with the London living wage and UK Security companies which offer wage rates which are commensurate with the ever increasing complex tasks carried out by security professionals everywhere.

Where possible, ASIS UK endeavours to demonstrate to our members and the wider security community that buying security should be seen as a value proposition and as a business enabler for a client organisation and this helps prevent security being seen as ‘just’ a commodity. Through our education programmes, qualifications, continuous professional development and industry influence, ASIS UK is able to keep this message alive and it is very much part of our core strategy as we move into 2020 and beyond.

The ASIS International Enterprise Security Risk Management (ESRM) program, seeks to show how aligning security practices with the needs of the business can demonstrate a genuine and measurable ROI. This also helps raise the security function and the security professional to a strategic rather than an operational level enhancing both.

2. Does ASIS have a position in regard to members who condone security officers being paid hourly rates less than living wage rate?

Further to the previous answer, ASIS UK supports national living wage, London living wage and is always promoting the security industry at all levels as a true profession where wage rates are paid at the appropriate levels. Unfortunately, there are still a vast number of security companies that do not adopt these principles and although ASIS UK has no authority to insist that members within our organisation adopt these principles we are very clear that we support government and industry initiatives to ensure that not only wages but welfare conditions, employee benefits and wellbeing initiatives are promoted across the industry.

ASIS is a diverse global organization, with a strong ethical core and we would encourage all members to do their best to ensure that the living wage / London Living wage is always applied. Membership is individual and not corporate so we have no way of enforcing company behavior.

3. In regards to member and stakeholder engagement how does ASIS intend to encourage greater involvement to reduce the number of consultants who sit on the board who may be motivated by ASIS as a business development opportunity?

ASIS UK prides itself on its rich and diverse mixture of members which include end users, consultants, trainers, manufacturers, operators and a whole host of other industries within the security sector. The ASIS UK Board is made up of 7 directors, two are end users, two are recruiters, one is a marketing manager for a training organisation, one is a director of a leading Systems company and one is a physical security advisor. This broad range of talent allows for a rich and diverse range of skills to be used to best serve the chapter. ASIS UK Board positions are available to any member in good standing and who meets the criteria to stand as a director irrespective of the job function they carry out or who they are employed by.

Mike Bullock, CEO of Corps Security asks:

What is the solution to the current situation facing the security industry, which has seen an increase in staff costs (due to pension enrolment, apprenticeship levy and rise in minimum wage) and labour shortages due to Brexit? How can we make security a more attractive profession for today’s school leaver and graduate?

ASIS UK and indeed the wider security community has identified the need to ensure that the security industry is seen as professional: and this is working. We have seen an increase in those leaving school to take up relevant security qualifications at degree level to ensure that their career ambitions within the security industry can readily be met. Efforts are being made to engage with schools, colleges, universities across the country to promote the benefits of embarking on a career in the security industry. Programmes such as the ASIS Young Professionals Group actively engage and support recruitment, career mapping and mentoring activities to ensure that budding security professionals are sign posted and guided in a way that offers them the very best career prospects. Work is also undertaken at CSO level to ensure that the most senior client side leaders in the UK Security industry appreciate and understand the need to invest and encourage young professionals to join our noble profession. The growing diversity of the sector means that there are more opportunities for people in the security industry than ever before.

However, there is much more work to be done and this falls to senior leaders from within the industry to support these efforts to. Many individuals join companies that appeal to them, that offer roles that seem interesting and exciting, they stay with companies where they see a future and growth opportunities for people like themselves, they give their best efforts to companies that respect, train and encourage them. If we as an industry are self-aware and honest, we will admit that the best way to make this an industry of choice is that we are diverse and inclusive – that we offer opportunities to all, that we invest in our people, that we encourage them.

Again, ESRM can help raise the way security is viewed and respected. ASIS has launched a new global certification for early careerists and in the UK, we have an active and vibrant Young Professionals programme with a dedicated team of volunteers.

Darren Read, Managing Director, Amulet Security asks:

1. As a growing business what benefits are there to employing ASIS qualified candidates to our management team?

ASIS International has four board certifications all of which demonstrate a candidate’s ability in each field (APP, CPP, PCP and PCI). By employing Board certified ASIS members you will be able to Build a strong, dedicated team committed to high standards and continuing professional development. Candidates will demonstrate an ongoing enhancement of critical job knowledge and skills as ASIS certifications require candidates to recertify every three years. This means that candidates have to evidence continuous professional development on an annual basis. As an employer, you will be confident and reassured that your Board certified staff are using the very best practices and latest techniques in their roles. Importantly, you will reinforce or elevate your organisation’s reputation and credibility.

If a company deals with or would seek to deal with major global corporations, then ASIS Certifications are recognized and respected and brings with them a certain credibility. For example,the ASIS certification program is the first and only program of its kind to be awarded a coveted Designation by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) under the Support Anti-Terrorism by Fostering Effective Technology (SAFETY) Act of 2002.

2. How relevant are ASIS qualifications in the day to day managing of a security Business?

ASIS board certifications themselves provide a great framework for the day to day management of a security business. However, like all qualifications I believe, it is the hands on, operational experience which is what makes the difference in successfully managing a security business. ASIS members are also required to have years of relevant experience prior to being able to apply to study for the exams, so an individual that has successfully completed an ASIS exams should have extensive experience and theoretical knowledge.

ASIS Certifications areglobally recognised andholding a certification makes dealing with out certification holders in other organizations easier.

3. What are ASIS doing to share the intelligence and best practices of its members across the entire Security marketplace?

ASIS routinely shares intelligence and best practices across the security marketplace in three different ways. Firstly, most ASIS UK events are open to members and non-members alike and our newsletter is open source. ASIS UK is a founder and prominent member of the security commonwealth which is an umbrella organisation 42 security membership organisations, which is the perfect platform to share intelligence and best practice across the entire security industry. ASIS UK events, 90% are open to members and non-members alike, every event is sold out and many of our activities are free to attend. This shows us that ASIS UK is very much at the forefront of UK security thought leadership and our members regularly publish articles and papers which exemplify best practice and these are available across the security industry.

ASIS also has a vibrant and active community of members who are encouraged to communicate through the portals that they have access to. It is common for a member to post a question on a particular challenge that they are facing and to receive multiple responses with ideas and examples of successes from other members. The ASIS member network is one of the most valuable resources that all ASIS members have access to.

Many of the ASIS Standards, Guidelines and best practice documents are available free of charge to non-members and the work of the councils is also available. Additionally, if the ASIS members are better informed and better educated they will cascade that knowledge amongst their peers and colleagues.

Alton Nutile, Head of Commercial, Dardan Security asks:

With ASIS being headquartered in the USA, what lessons can the UK learn from its American cousins in terms of security?”

It’s really about what we can learn from each other. Being part of a global organisation means that our members get to share knowledge and experience with other security professionals internationally. Many UK members collaborate with colleagues on the 30+ ASIS Councils which focus on specific security practice areas, the Standard and Guidelines Commission, ASIS Foundation, European Advisory Council etc. Additionally, the ASIS Connects forum, has many communities where members can ask questions (and supply answers) and interact with colleagues. The willingness to help and support other members, is one of the best things about ASIS.

The US is a large and highly active security market, so the types of challenges that we see in the U.K. can also be experienced there also. However, the value of the ASIS model is that we are able to learn from colleagues around the world. Where the US model isn’t most applicable we can interact with colleagues in Canada, or Japan or France or with other colleagues in the UK. We seek to build on the most relevant from around the world and this is what the ASIS chapters and the community of members allows us to do.

Emily Wright, Sales and Support Services Administrator, Bold Security asks:

Having read ASIS’s most recent newsletter (Spring 2019) I notice most of your new members are male, only 6% female. The current split of females and males employed in the PSI is currently 78% male and 22% female, this clearly shows the PSI as being a very male dominated industry, how do/would you promote and encourage more professional young females to join ASIS International UK and seek senior roles within the security industry?

The UK Security industry and ASIS UK are as you point out, still has a disproportionate male to female ratio. We have worked hard and continue to work hard to identify why this is and what more we can be doing to greater parity. ASIS UK runs a very active and engaging WiS (Women in Security) programme which gives the underrepresented women in the security industry a platform where they can be heard. this also provides a networking exchange environment for Women seeking to obtain senior roles in the security industry. Not only is this effective from a networking perspective, but also brings opportunities around the ASIS UK mentor/mentee scheme.

The UK Chapter also has an active young professionals group which is open to non-members and these events often have around 25 – 35% female attendees; these are not reflected in the chapter numbers as they are yet to join as members. While this is still not close to the figure we hope to achieve, it does demonstrate that there is an interest among female employees in the industry, but we must do more to encourage this. Events that are open to non-members, and professionals from diverse backgrounds are a start, as are events where we discuss non-traditional topics as the industry is changing and our events should reflect the raft of opportunities and experiences of members. Finally, senior leaders within the industry must be open to diverse hiring, and creating inclusive environments for all employees to thrive. Frankly, it is on all leaders to take on the challenge of changing the make-up of our industry. Members demand it and clients are demanding it – if the industry cannot rise to the challenge, we will become obsolete.

The global survey undertaken by ASIS in 2018 received 8,690 responses showed that only 9.5% of respondents were female and that 21.6% (of the total)were under 40. Many enter security from the police (35%) or military (34%) which are male dominated. We need to change this partly be stressing the range and scope of the roles that security professional can fill.