Creating a Stronger, More Diverse Security Profession
Diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) are essential for the security profession to thrive, remain resilient and lean into the future threat landscape. A robust pipeline of DEI candidates, at all levels, ensures a healthy future for our critical industry. Yet the security profession has traditionally not been as diverse as it needs to be.
ISF DEI Statement
The ISF is committed to promoting Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) throughout the security profession. Our intentions are to grow the diversity of leadership and foster representation to produce a more authentic reflection of the communities we safeguard. We recognize the many underrepresented groups in the security profession, and our initial priority focus will be on women, People of Color and LGBTQI+ groups to increase access, engagement and retention to create a sustainable, more diverse workforce and leadership.
ISF DEI Journey Map
The ISF has created an evolving Journey Map of its ongoing DEI efforts. This guiding document will be updated periodically to reflect progress and new initiatives.
On April 11, 2023, security leaders from security nonprofits and public-private partnerships took the needed first step to create a more diverse security profession.
The ISF hosted the first-ever joint DEI Summit for these organizations with a shared goal of developing DEI programming, recruitment and data collection to impact every sector of the security and safety profession in the U.S. and abroad.
To create a more open and inclusive culture for existing and new members of the security profession, the next steps of the DEI Summit efforts are:
Create organizational alignment to remove DEI barriers while directly influencing industry culture at all levels.
Develop a talent pipeline and recruitment initiatives focused on creating opportunities to attract more diverse talent pool to the security industry.
Host the next DEI Summit in spring 2024.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
The ISF Board of Directors started discussing the lack of diversity in 2021 and created an ISF board Diversity Committee. During the ISF’s Strategic Plan board discussion in 2022, DEI became one of the priority focuses with the overarching theme to “Promote Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) for the Benefit of the Security Profession.” We set specific internal goals for our organization to meet by 2025 and brainstormed about DEI promotion through education and grantmaking.
The ISF Board and staff also worked with an outside DEI Advisor, Dr. Ron Brown, on DEI training, which will continue annually.
While many organizations are addressing the challenges of DEI in the security profession, the ISF believes that to make any measurable change requires a combined, coordinated effort by many organizations. By bringing the initial group of five organizations together, we hope to collaborate to start building programs, awareness and educational opportunities for underrepresented people in the security profession.
Recognizing that the ISF had the resources to do so, we hosted the first joint DEI Summit in April 2023 with five participating organizations:
The ISF Board also dedicated additional resources to this initiative by funding a new position, Director of Programs, in spring 2023 to spearhead the collaborative work of the five organizations, which have formed the Joint DEI Task Force.
The Joint DEI Task Force is a group of five partner organizations joining together to move forward DEI initiatives. The inaugural Task Force is:
ASIS: Peter O’Neil
DSAC: Colin Daugherty
ISF: Buffy Payne, ISF Board member
ISMA: Arlin Pedrick
OSAC: Christina Johnson
The security profession faces significant challenges in creating a more diverse and inclusive workforce, at all levels. In its recent survey, SMR Group, a security industry placement firm, learned that 94% of its candidates for security, risk and resiliency positions globally were men, with 70% coming from a former government background, typically, military, police or intelligence.
For underrepresented groups, there have been advancements, but critical gaps remain. For example, in cybersecurity, only 11% of the global cybersecurity workforce are female—a significant issue for an industry facing 1.8 million-plus unfulfilled jobs (Cybercrime Magazine).
The security profession’s lack of diversity in gender, race and sexual orientation also affects organizations’ ability to create the best crisis response, which benefits from different perspectives and experiences. When our teams have diversity, equity and inclusion at their core, we are better able to plan and respond to our communities in crisis. In fact, diverse teams make better decisions 87% of the time and more efficiently—twice as fast and in half the time, according to Cloverpop—and deliver 60% better results.
Creating initiatives that address the security profession’s DEI challenges will create a more robust pipeline for those entering the profession and provide more opportunities across all levels. This is one of the priorities identified at the DEI Summit.
The ISF’s mission is to “Promote Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) for the Benefit of the Security Profession” as stated in our Strategic Plan.
The ISF DEI Initiatives include organizing and funding the DEI Summit and the initiatives that develop from the work of the Joint DEI Task Force.
The ISF is working with our grantees to educate about the importance of DEI in their staff and leadership and balanced representation in the programs that we fund through our grants programs.
The ISF DEI initiatives are funded through restricted donations to the ISF and unrestricted ISF Board designated funds.
Contact Carly Coaty, ISF Director of Programs [email protected]
Phone: 832-543-1442, ext. 105
Our collaborative work seizes a critical opportunity to drive substantial change in our highly complex and continuously evolving profession.
Colin Daugherty, Chair, DSAC Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, Action (IDEA) subcommittee; director of corporate security, VF Corporation
Recognizing the escalating competition for talent across the security sector, these organizations are dedicated to addressing all aspects of DEI to build robust and inclusive pipelines for the development of future leaders.
Ronald B. Brown, Ph.D, President, Banks Brown
Focusing on DEI is the right thing for the ISF and the security industry to do. We’re committed to being a voice for DEI and collaborating across the security community to create meaningful change.
Buffy Payne, Chair, ISF Diversity Committee, Head of Global Security, Novelis