Different? Use it to your advantage: Promoting gender and diversity in Security
When I started in Security, it was very unusual to see a woman in a top position and other types of diversity weren’t well represented either. Though it’s changing, it’s changing slowly.
Connection with community
I believe that my team here at Guy’s and St Thomas’ is one of the exceptions to the rule, and it’s something I know makes our service better. When I’ve had to defend a woman’s ability to do this type of work, I remind them that in dealing with incidents with female members of the public, we can have a distinct advantage. Better diversity means having a real connection with the local area and the people you’re there to protect – in Southwark, for example, there are more than 100 languages spoken locally! This means that we can help safeguard our patients better too, as there have been cases of members of my team being able to understand and report concerning conversations that they’ve overheard in other languages. Remembering and celebrating that people bring their full selves to work is really important as a manager. This also means you should try to accommodate differences – last year, I made sure that team members observing Ramadan weren’t working anywhere too hot, for example, as they sometimes weren’t able to drink water during their shifts.
Advice to young women in security
When speaking to young women interested in going into security, I’d give three key pieces of advice. Firstly, that it really is a promising career these days, especially in the NHS – and not just a second career after the military or policing. I’d recommend that they look at university courses in risk and security management, and get a really good qualification behind them. Secondly, aim to excel – we’re consistently one of the safest acute trusts to work at in the country, but that doesn’t just happen. We give access to conflict resolution training, and we liaise with staff after any incident to really understand why it happened. Finally, you need to ‘be the change that you want to see’ – be visible, get involved in events and conferences, and help inspire and develop the next generation of women in Security.
Head of Security, Receptions & Portering, Essentia, Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS