Axis Inaugural Women in Security Summit: Igniting dialog about diversity in the security industry

Guest authors

On June 12 Axis Communications hosted its inaugural Women in Security Summit—an event that looks to promote diversity and inclusion in the workplace and engage attendees, both men and women, who share this common objective.

The event consisted of a number of workshops led by renowned industry-leading women across the US and a panel discussion that put the spotlight on the evolution of diversity in the security industry.

“We put this event together to ignite the conversation about diversity and inclusion in the security industry—we believe these factors are key to driving industry innovation and growth,” said Fredrik Nilsson, VP, Americas. “Women have an equal hand in moving the industry forward and creating a smarter, safer world. To that end, it’s essential to provide a dedicated forum that encourages dialogue and generates new ideas.”

While women continue to make an impact when employed in the technology sector, they still face barriers fully breaking into the industry. As proof, look no further than a Frost & Sullivan study that found globally men are nine times more likely to hold managerial positions than women and four times more likely to hold C-level seats in the cybersecurity sector. This state of affairs is also similar on a broader scale across the technology industry, according to a global survey report from ISACA, a nonprofit association that provides guidance and globally-accepted best practices for information systems.

What may be even more shocking is despite the clear opportunity for growth, 53 percent of technology hiring managers say they’re still facing a skills shortage in the technology industry, according to a study of nearly 3,000 technology professionals worldwide from Harvey Nash, a technology staffing agency.

The question is: Why does a “skills shortage” exist when women have repeatedly proven they can be movers and shakers in the industry? And the answer, at least according to the same Harvey Nash study, may be a simple one: workplace culture—or a lack thereof.

The technology sphere has been notoriously slow in closing the gender gap. In fact, some respondents (1 in 10) said they worked for an organization where the technology team had no women employed at all.

We work hard to promote the importance of and raise awareness of diversity and equality in the workplace. Hosting the Women in Security Summit gave us the chance to not only acknowledge some of the security industry’s most prominent women but celebrate and support all women in the industry.

Event agenda and workshops: Breaking barriers through collaboration and education

The summit began bright and early on June 12 with welcome speeches from Fredrik Nilsson, VP Americas, Elaine Palome, Director of Human Resources, North & Central America and a keynote speech from Bodil Sonesson, VP Global Sales. From there, attendees took part in several workshops that covered topics ranging from how professionals can live a balanced lifestyle and work to develop their brand to creative leadership and communication strategies and how diversity is evolving in the security industry.

“It was an honor to deliver the keynote address at our inaugural Women in Security Summit.” said Sonesson. “I appreciate the opportunity to support women in their careers, recognize their achievements and hopefully inspire them to take on leadership roles within the industry.”

Other notable speakers included:

  • Juliette Kayyem, founder of Kayyem Solutions, LLC, a security consulting business that strategically advises companies in technology, mega-event planning, risk management, venture capital and more. Kayyem’s workshop, Securing Your Balance: Making it Count at Work & at Home, covered parts of her memoir, “Security Mom: My Life Protecting The Home and Homeland,” and she shared her own personal story of balancing marriage, motherhood and managing national security. She offered strategic advice on how you can succeed professionally and at home without compromising your career or personal life.
  • Betsy Meyers, former Director of the Center for Women & Business at Bentley University and current expert, author, speaker and consultant on leadership, led an engaging workshop, Promoting Your Brand and Being Your Authentic-Self. This workshop put the focus on individuals and the importance of being themselves. It shared strategies, examples and best practices to help professionals develop their brand.
  • Bonnie Michelman is Executive Director of Police, Security and Outside Services, Massachusetts General Hospital and the Security Consultant for Partners Healthcare Inc., which is comprised of 13 hospitals in Massachusetts. Michelman, a senior security and executive consultant with over 20 years of experience optimizing security operations for organizations in diverse industries, led an informative workshop at the Summit, Creative Leadership and Communication Strategies—Optimizing Your Effectiveness and Being Your Best.

In the afternoon, attendees gathered for a panel discussion, The Evolution of Diversity in the Security Industry—Past, Present and Future. Speakers included:

  • Scott Dunn: Women in Security Summit Panel Moderator and Senior Director, Business Development Solutions & Services
  • Lora Wilson: Director of Marketing, Axis Communications
  • Bob Moore: Country Manager, Canada, Axis Communications
  • Kim Landgraf: Manager of Design and Production, Security Industry Association (SIA)
  • Heather Viccione: Vice President, Physical Security Manager, Citizens Bank and Chair and liaison to the ASIS’ Women in Security Council.

The panel, which featured leaders from various parts of the security industry, discussed how diversity has changed and continues to evolve in the market. Panelists spoke about issues in the workplace they’ve encountered and progress that has been made on this frontier and future trends.

What’s next?

In all, the Women in Security Summit was a highly successful, motivating and inspiring event that not only emphasized the advantages of a diversified workplace but recognized women who have made the security industry their career.

Research shows diversity can have a positive impact on personal growth and development, as well as business performance and outcomes.

In fact, employees who are highly inclusive could be roughly four times more likely to also have a high well-being compared to someone with low inclusiveness, according to Psychology Today, citing a study of 1,153 employees at a particular company by Professor Ben C. Fletcher, founder of FIT Science and Do Something Different, and Karen Pine, former Professor of Developmental Psychology at University of Hertfordshire, England.

Furthermore, we found evidence that diversity and business success are uniquely linked. In a report, McKinsey, a global management consulting firm, noted that organizations that sit in the top quartile for gender, ethnic or racial diversity are 35 percent more likely to see financial returns above the median for their respective industry.

At Axis, we’re focused on cultivating and maintaining a welcoming and positive workplace culture. We actually consider our culture to be a way of life and the driving force behind the way we do business from working with customers, developing products, solutions and services, and hiring employees.

We believe that equality and diversity (along with a person’s professional background and competencies) foster innovation, creative thinking and employee well-being. But believing is seeing. That’s why we will continue to raise awareness about this issue in the industry.