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IFSEC Insider, formerly IFSEC Global, is the leading online community and news platform for security and fire safety professionals.
May 7, 2021


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Diversity in security: Tackling the issue with structure and framework, not by ‘ticking boxes’

George Zitko, Managing Director of fire and security recruitment firm, Zitko, pens his thoughts on how the sector can improve its diversity and inclusion standards.

Back in January I reported that the main challenges for senior leaders, business owners and HR professionals in 2021 would include the change in workforce design, flexible working arrangements, strategic workforce planning, diversity and inclusion, and talent shortages in critical skill sets.

The latest IHS Markit review from KMPG and REC shows that permanent placements are rising sharply, new vacancies have been opened at the fastest pace since August 2018 and the current candidate market is one of the toughest for years.

In a candidate market as stagnant as this, those challenges have become even more acute, particularly those around workforce planning, talent shortages and, for our industry, diversity and inclusion. In the last six weeks we have spoken to numerous companies who are looking to expand their workforce, both in the short term, either through replacement hires or growth, but more importantly over the course of the next 12 months on the back of strong market confidence in the fire and security industry.

All of these companies are similarly as focused on diversity and inclusion, but by looking to tackle that problem alone, it is not possible to come up with a solution.

The technical fire and security industry is simply not diverse enough. For example, a recent review of some of our job adverts showed a 2% application rate from females for engineering roles. Indeed, one of the most common questions our consultants get asked at the recruitment stage is do we have any female engineers? Unfortunately, this is making diversity a tick box. Employers must first look internally at their own DE&I before even thinking about going out to market to attract talent.

So how can we tackle the problem? By first of all looking within and creating a structure and framework of support and success, we can then start to tap into the varied and diverse pools of talent that exist outside of our industry. By then combining that support framework with a structured training programme, that talent then has the highest possible chance of success. By changing our tone, our attitude, our routes to market and some simple processes, the fire and security industry can make huge strides in attracting a variety of people from more backgrounds.

For example, at a recent PSA Tec event discussing talent attraction, the use of social media was discussed. One of the big problems of the industry is undervaluing its work and how interesting and varied it can be. By documenting that work through engaging content like video, we can then use social media channels like LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and TikTok to inspire and engage a much wider audience.


Another way employers are embracing DE&I is by understanding that the key is not in the selection process, but in initial candidate attraction. By ensuring that content, but also our jobs and vacancies, are advertised in the widest selection of media possible, and with the right language, we attract a much larger selection of candidates to go into the top of the recruitment funnel.

Employers will always select the right person for the job. By casting the net wider and bringing more people into the process, we have more chance of that right candidate coming from a wider demographic.

We are about to start a number of projects in partnership with employers that combine planning, DNI, strategy and talent shortages in a complete 12–24 month solution that we believe can have transformational success for those companies. If you wish to find out more, please get in touch.

Elsewhere, jobs are booming, in particular across Europe. UK-based companies are delivering complex, varied integration projects across the whole of the continent giving engineers more than ever the opportunity to experience and work in different cultures and environments. Due to these factors, despite candidates being reluctant to pursue new roles amid fears over job security, it has never been a better time to do so in the fire and security industry. As we proved last year with our COVID survey, the fire and security industry is as safe as it has ever been.

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