Asking the Hard Questions About the Security Industry’s Diversity

Event attendees at AcceleRISE 2022

The Security Industry Association (SIA) has established goals to grow the industry for all stakeholders and to promote diversity throughout the industry. We welcome constructive, open discussion around the important topic of diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I) in the security industry.

Many have noticed a question raised in our recent report What a Security Career Can Do for You – “Isn’t the security industry (at least in the United States) all white men?” This question is one that can be uncomfortable to ask, but by questioning a common stereotype about the industry we can show that we as an industry are self-aware and adaptable, much more diverse than we once were and continuing to diversify. In recent years, companies and organizations have dramatically increased their efforts to promote DE&I through programs such as the SIA Women in Security Forum (WISF) and the RISE community of young professionals in the security industry – which has helped the industry to look more and more like the society it serves.

SIA encourages diversity and inclusion among its volunteer groups, committees and communities, as we know that today’s committee members and volunteers typically grow to become tomorrow’s leaders at the association and in the entire industry. Furthermore, there are a variety of studies that show diversity increases are good for business. A 2021 CNBC study found that a strong majority (nearly 80%) of persons surveyed preferred to work at organizations that prioritize DE&I. It’s also good for profitability: A 2015 McKinsey & Company study noted in its findings that “companies in the top quartile for racial and ethnic diversity are 35 percent more likely to have financial returns above their respective national industry medians” and that “companies in the top quartile for gender diversity are 15 percent more likely to have financial returns above their respective national industry means.”

As an association, we have embraced DE&I, and we believe that our commitment is illustrated in groups like WISF and RISE, in addition to being seen in efforts like the SIA Progress Award, the Talent Inclusion Mentorship Education (TIME) program, the WISF Power 100 and events we hold at major industry trade shows, such as the SIA WISF keynote events at ISC West and ISC East. Today, one third of SIA’s voting board members are female. We will continue to encourage applications for SIA Board of Directors positions from individuals who have experiences and expertise that align with the SIA Strategic Framework and SIA’s future’s needs. As SIA grows its initiatives to foster the future of the security industry and the talent pipeline, we anticipate that leaders from a diverse array of communities may be interested in potential service on the SIA board, which is very encouraging.

The composition and diversity of the security industry have been changing and will continue to change. This change is extremely evident at SIA events like AcceleRISE, our young professionals conference. At AcceleRISE 2022, SIA and our attendees were heartened and inspired by the diversity of the group in attendance. Events like these are opportunities to celebrate not only how far DE&I in security has come, but also who we can be as an industry.