Breaking down the split between security and the company

July 2003 News

Security should be an integral part of a company's overall operations, performance and not just an add-on department which is only called upon when there is trouble, says Mariaan van Kaam, executive director of behaviourial management specialists VoiceIT South Africa, an associate of corporate security management company, GriffithsReid.

According to Van Kaam: "Security awareness must be an enterprise-wide issue, addressing the entire range of employee values, attitudes and behaviour, from the office right through to the storeroom."

A major part of the problem lies in poor corporate governance, lack of leadership, poor communication and feedback, lack of staff awareness and inconsistent standards, 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 call in the security department to deal with it."

Pro-active intervention

Pro-active intervention, aligned with security needs, 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 or service provider and other parts of the organisation are broken down, and that the security department/service 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 engage in a focused behaviour-change programme to ensure that security becomes everyone's business, and is not just left to the security department/service.

"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 taken, the security department needs to be involved, and so on."

Behaviour-based awareness

One of the best proactive steps a company can take, and which heightens security awareness throughout an enterprise, is to adopt a hearts and minds behaviour-based programme designed to engender staff commitment and to make everyone aware of how important security is for the company's overall wellbeing.

"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 harnessing employee awareness and commitment 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.

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 become more strategically involved in the company and to ensure that management is aware of the corporate-wide nature of security, and not concentrate on certain aspects to the detriment of others," say Van Kaam.

Pro-active solutions are available, but unless senior management buys into the concept of living ethical values and of driving proactive security awareness and prevention at all levels of the organisation, it is unlikely that they will succeed to attain any sort of long term security solution and preventative sustainability at all.

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

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