Breaking down the split between security and the company

June 2003 News

Security is an integral part of a company's overall operations, and not an add-on department which is only called upon when there is trouble.

This is according to Mariaan van Kaam, executive director of behavioural management specialists VoiceIT South Africa. "Security awareness must be an enterprise wide issue, addressing the entire range of employee behaviour, from the office right through to the storeroom," says Van Kaam.

The facts are that 85% of the worst frauds in business worldwide were committed by employees, according to the latest international fraud survey conducted by Ernst & Young. "In addition, the survey showed that more than 50% of the fraudsters were in management positions," Van Kaam says.

Everybody's business

A major part of the problem lies in poor corporate governance and issues such as working conditions, staff motivation and loyalty, she adds. "This is why security is actually everybody's business, and the worst thing a company can do is pretend that all is well until some act of criminality is brought to their attention, and then reactively try to call in the security department to deal with it."

Pro-active intervention by the security company is therefore the only answer to deal with the problem of intra- and extra-organisational criminality," says Van Kaam. "This means ensuring that the artificial silos which have been built up between the security department and other parts of the organisation are broken down, and that the security department plays an active, in fact a proactive, role, in helping to drive the business goals of the company."

The security department should, for example, be involved in the planning of logistics, of staff screening, and the day to day running of the company. In addition, the company must ensure that security becomes everyone's business, and not just left to the security department.

"Just putting a guard at the door will not suffice to prevent crime," says Van Kaam. "Far better to try and prevent the crime from even taking place, than relying solely on a policing function, important as that may be. For example, before a shipping decision is taking, the security department needs to be involved, and so on."

Reaching a solution

One of the best proactive steps a company can take, and which heightens security awareness throughout an enterprise, is to adopt a staff motivational programme designed to engender staff loyalty and make everyone aware of how important security is for the company's overall wellbeing. This can take the form of a programme designed to make everyone aware that they all have a responsibility towards the company, and that their own welfare is at stake should the company suffer from criminality of any origin.

"The true cost of fraud goes beyond the financial loss and has implications for the company's reputation, morale, lost management time as well as trust within an organisation. Internal control and addressing HR issues are therefore the best weapon any company can have in preventing and detecting fraud," Van Kaam says.

The most common problem in this regard is getting management to understand just how far reaching a security solution must go, and the cost implications of such a solution. "It is in fact far cheaper to make security an enterprise-wide issue, than it is to try and deal reactively with security issues," says Van Kaam.

In one instance, a prominent South African telecommunications provider saw internal theft drop by more than half after a sustained programme of staff motivational instruction, and this figure has been beaten in many other industries since then. With recovery rates from perpetrators still standing at around 20%, the bulk of the cost of intra-organisational criminality is borne by the company, and ultimately by the consumer, she says.

"The security department has an onus upon itself to ensure that management is aware of the corporate-wide nature of security, and not concentrate on certain aspects to the detriment of others," says Van Kaam.

Pro-active solutions are available, but unless senior management buys into the concept of living security at all levels of the organisation, it is unlikely that they will buy into any sort of long term security solution at all.

For more information contact Mariaan van Kaam, VoiceIT South Africa, 011 954 1067.





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