Thursday, November 14, 2013

The Re-Branding of Security

There has been an effort over the past several years to change the titles of persons who perform security functions within an organization: I have seen such persons in various industries called “asset protection specialists,” “loss prevention associates,”  “protection officers,” “doormen,”  “ushers,”  even “ambassadors.”  But regardless of a company’s job title nomenclature, these persons all perform, to some degree,  the function of security:  namely, protecting the assets of that company.  And the function is more important than the title.
Perhaps companies believe that the word “security” has somehow taken on a negative connotation, that the presence of “security” somehow implies an admission that problems exist (the PR department’s nightmare).  But in reality – especially in our post-9-11 world – the very concept of “security” should be embraced as a comfort.  So maybe the root problem is that there is a misperception and misunderstanding of what “security” really is.
I think that most people’s primary exposure to and perception of what “security” is comes from the uniformed guards that they see wherever they go (it’s getting to be the Holiday Season, so perhaps the armed guards at the front door of Toys-R-Us will be back!).  And because the guards in uniform look like police officers in uniform – whose primary job (people think) is patrolling and responding to problems – they equate the two types of personnel to that similar job function.  But just as there is so much more to law enforcement work than the visible patrol officer, so too is there much more to “security” than observe and respond (which is amazingly ironic, since a good percentage of security personnel are only supposed to observe-and-report as opposed to observe-and-respond).  And to compound the confusion, since police officers are usually seen in the aftermath of a crime that has already been committed, that ascription of similar function makes people believe that “security = problems.”  But those in our profession know that the opposite is really the truth – that the foundation and raison d’etre of security is finding ways to identify and prevent (or at least mitigate) problems before they occur.  The underlying principle of security should be to create a safe, inviting environment for all the persons who visit a company and have dealings with it.
So for those companies that have tried to be politically correct by re-branding the persons who try to keep them safe and to try to convey the impression that problems do not exist, that is certainly your choice.  But I for one am comforted whenever I visit a place that proudly announces that it has good and strong “security.”