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The women who break stereotypes within the security sector | Safe environment

Julia del Viejo pauses briefly in her routines to explain that she came to the world of private security “almost by accident”. When she had been unemployed for a year and a half, after more than 20 working as an administrative worker, her partner, who is a security guard, encouraged her to carry out the surveillance course supervised by the National Police that was taught in his company. Once the corresponding accreditation was obtained, he managed to gain a foothold in Prosegur, first as a temporary worker and soon after in the workforce. “I have worked at the Casa de Campo (Madrid) fairs, at the Sports City of the Spanish Soccer Team, in the security operation of some Real Madrid matches, at the Barajas Airport…”, explains this security guard. accidental at first, but increasingly vocational as he evolves professionally.

Since 2016, this 47-year-old professional has been the operator of the Ifema Camera Control Center, the Madrid fairgrounds. There she had also carried out “surveillance tasks, in the car parks, on the premises and outdoors” and today she is in charge of the closed circuit video surveillance, coordinating with the team deployed on the ground and being in direct contact with the client. According to her account, she feels satisfied with the new direction that her professional career has taken, very comfortable with the training received and “proud” of her work. Also more than happy with the work shifts that you perform, perfectly compatible with the care of your child of six years (“When she is not with my husband, she is with me”, she specifies), which has made it unnecessary for her to take advantage of available options such as reducing her working day due to family conciliation.

Del Viejo is an example of the gradual feminization process that is taking place in the private security business, that for some time now is parking inertia and stereotypes and leaving forced marches to be men thing. The companies that are dedicated to this professional activity, according to data from Aproser, the sector’s employers’ association, are incorporating women at all levels, from their directors and management staff to surveillance positions, passing through commercial and service departments.

Gabriela Miñarro, Director of Good Governance, Profitability and Efficiency at Prosegur.
Gabriela Miñarro, Director of Good Governance, Profitability and Efficiency at Prosegur.Victor Sainz

Gabriela Minarro, Director of Good Governance, Profitability and Efficiency of I continued, highlights that, in his company, the percentage of women amounts to 18% of the workforce, a figure above the sector average, which is 13%: “This figure makes us think that we are doing things well, but we still have opportunities to improve current figures”, Minarro acknowledges. “An important trend is marked, where the data to highlight is that, above all, there is a paradigm shift for a professional activity that not long ago was almost essentially male.”

This Valencian, with a business management profile, came to the company from other sectors, but values ​​that “today it is perfectly possible for a woman to make a career in both the private and public security fields. At Prosegur we are incorporating increasingly younger professionals, much more prepared, with the desire to develop a professional career within the sector, with a very vocational outlook and with training in Criminology. law or engineering. Miñarro adds: “We also observe an increase in the demand for women for security guard positions, which represents between 15% and 20% of the total requests that we receive, young women between 20 and 35 years old, which gives us to understand how a traditionally masculine sector is being transformed”.

He knows in depth all the sides of the coin.

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Be seen in companies

Sylvia Jarabo is the founder of Promising Women, a consultancy that individually advises women with a managerial profile and helps companies “to attract, retain and promote female talent”. For Jarabo, the changes that are taking place right now in the private security sector are “promising”. Companies are taking a considerable qualitative leap in their equality programs and dedicate “both resources and a significant degree of attention to detail and level of commitment” to put aside prejudices and feminize their staff once and for all.

The incorporation of women into the sector is increasing with the demand of customers to request a greater number of women in their facilities and services

Gabriela Miñarro, Director of Good Governance, Profitability and Efficiency at Prosegur

In Jarabo’s opinion, private security is no exception. There are other sectors with a marked male pre-eminence, “such as technology, industry or investment banking” that have also been making efforts in recent years to better manage female talent. “Progress is tangible, but it will never be fast enough without the corporate will to accelerate it.” Jarabo explains that a common obstacle for professionals who strive to make a career is what he defines as the visibility trap. “Making yourself seen can be a double-edged sword,” she says. “If there are few women in a company, those that are are seen more. But that can translate into an excess of scrutiny and, paradoxically, develop in them a certain aversion to risk, for fear that their possible mistakes will attract too much attention and penalize them more than their male colleagues. The solution that her consultancy proposes consists of acting simultaneously on both fronts, the individual and the corporate structure: “You have to help women to make themselves look positive and the company, to look at them without prior reticence and assess them in an equitable manner”.

A growing demand

Miñarro highlights that, “although the incorporation of women into the sector was preceded by the recommendations of the Ministry of the Interior through the instructions of the Secretary of State for Security – where the criteria to be followed for potentially intrusive or uncomfortable surveillance tasks, such as searches and searches, should be carried out by personnel of the same sex–, this incorporation is increasing with the demand of clients to request a greater number of women in their facilities and services”.

Security control at the Adolfo Suárez Madrid-Barajas airport.  This is one of the points where the presence of women dedicated to security is especially necessary.
Security control at the Adolfo Suárez Madrid-Barajas airport. This is one of the points where the presence of women dedicated to security is especially necessary.istock

In parallel, the sector is completing a profound transformation process based on three main lines: more technology, greater professionalization and better training. “Traditionally, society has perceived that private security is preceded by activities that only men can carry out, and thinks that a security guard must be someone who has sufficient physical strength to face any danger. In security, prevention, negotiation and control in risk situations prevail”, explains Miñarro. “With the incorporation of women into the surveillance and security sector, it is confirmed that the female gender also has the skills and abilities necessary to carry out this work with the greatest efficiency and professionalism, demonstrating it daily in their job” . Miñarro indicates that the services and solutions are not designed according to gender, and personnel with appropriate profiles are assigned to the defined functions, whether they are men or women indistinctly. “Personally I think that in both cases you are in the hands of a good professional,” she says.

Juliana P. A 54-year-old graphic designer, says: “Most women I know feel much more comfortable if the regular frisking or searching in places like airports is done by another woman, as this avoids misunderstandings and potentially unpleasant situations.” She also considers that the “in general more empathetic” attitudes of women are to be appreciated when a mishap is suffered, even if it is minor, and the services of a security guard are used. “Ultimately, what really matters is how is the specific person who assists you in those circumstances. But I must admit that, a priori at least, I find it more comfortable for my interlocutor in these cases to be a woman”, she concludes.

The important thing is that companies take seriously the task of feminizing their workforces, either starting with their management teams or giving preference to those in the field. Women attract more women

Sylvia Jarabo, founder of Promising Women

Patricia C., a hospitality professional who is very used to sharing her work space with security guards, introduces a nuance: “Each person is different, of course, but in general I do perceive that women are more likely to avoid conflict and redirect certain situations with diplomacy and a left hand”. From his point of view, feminizing security is also equivalent to “preventing incidents” using psychology and a certain subtlety.

Sylvia Jarabo largely shares the arguments of these two anonymous users: “Although it is still a psychological perception based on stereotypes, and as such it is very relative, the truth is that yes, the presence of women makes me at least feel more comfortable and safer.” However, what is really important, in her opinion, “is that companies take seriously the task of feminizing their workforces, either starting with the management cadres or giving preference to those operating in the field. The effect is almost always the same, women attract more women. Julia of the Elder, From his video surveillance booth at Ifema, he provides a reflection by way of summary: “We began to be many women in the workforce. And I don’t think that in this particular profession we have less visibility or fewer opportunities than men. We are at the same level, both in the tasks to be performed and in the salary to be received”. And she concludes with humor: “I also think that we are held in high esteem for our ability to tolerate high doses of stress and, why not say it, because we are able to perform several tasks at the same time.”

‘High performance women’, the necessary accolade

Gabriela Miñarro, Director of Good Governance, Profitability and Efficiency at Prosegur, breaks a spear for the real visibility of women in the company: “It is very important that in the workplace they see you, listen to you and take you into account”. She says she feels very comfortable in a company that “is advancing very firmly towards the full inclusion of women at all levels. We are one of the few companies in the sector that have a woman as president and main shareholder”. Susan Brito, from the Prosegur Communications team, is also willing to share her experience as a woman dedicated to the sector: “I don’t have the feeling of working in a very masculinized environment. For me, the main thing is that I am part of a large international company with a presence in 26 countries, which offers me opportunities for internal promotion and geographical mobility and values ​​my training and personal skills, such as knowledge of languages”.

In this line, Prosegur has developed the program high performance women In collaboration with Sylvia Jarabo, founder of Promising Women, that individually advises women with managerial profiles and companies, to attract female talent: “Programs like these can make a difference,” she says. Jarabo emphasizes that the objective of this plan is to achieve “a good initial diagnosis that, in the case of Prosegur, has allowed it to set specific objectives” in the field of women in security. plan includes sessions of coaching and active empowerment and “creates safe spaces for women with professional talent to share their experiences and refine their strategies for adapting to the environment and actively seeking internal promotion.”

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