Are you aware of HELP online courses? The HELP online courses cover various human rights related topics, reflecting the different areas of work of the Council of Europe. Although the primary target group of the Council of Europe HELP courses are legal professionals (judges, prosecutors and lawyers), some interdisciplinary courses may involve other professionals such as security personnel.
This has been a project I have wanted to do for a long time. As a woman in the security industry, I had the pleasure and the luck to have worked along with some amazing female professionals from different parts of the world and security fields. Personally, I have been blessed with my networking contacts, developments, and public exposure. I feel like I owe a lot of my brands’ success to my relationship with my network and other colleagues. That is why I decided to “Give Back the Stage” to a different woman every month. Women don’t tend to be very public about their stories, their achievements, and their struggles. So, every month I will be using the power of my networking platforms and connections to promote and bring awareness to a specific female in the security sector. My goal is to help them grow their own brands, connections, and publicity by showing their stories and sharing them with my network and contacts. I learned a long time ago, success comes not only from hard work, dedication, keeping the standards up, but also from having the right connections. And what these connections taught me is that sometimes by simply asking, you will be given an answer, help, a tip, a new introduction, and sometimes a job offer.
Please join me in this effort and welcome these women, invite them to your professional network and reach out to them if their services align with what your organization or clients may need. If you know a woman who must be on this “Stage”, please reach out to me and send me a recommendation.
The first woman to whom I am giving the Stage for this month is Kelly Sayre. Kelly is the Founder and President of The Diamond Arrow Group, a company that builds women’s self-confidence with realistic tactics and tools to help them live life safely and on their own terms. Her refreshing angle on women’s safety emphasizes non-physical, proactive situational awareness techniques that recognize and avoid threatening situations before they happen. With a grounded approach and high energy, Kelly works with law enforcement, nonprofit, corporate, and youth organizations on emergency preparedness, situational awareness training, and personal safety. She is a frequent speaker at national events and a guest on global podcasts.
Kelly is trained in FEMA’s Community Emergency Response Team program, the Department of Homeland Security’s Active Shooter Preparedness Workshop, and Texas A&M Extension Service’s crisis communications. She is a member of the Association of Threat Assessment Professionals, TeamWomen, FEW, and the Tri-County Humane Society. Kelly lives in Minnesota with her husband, children, and a 190-pound Great Dane.
I met Kelly some months ago, although I had her as a LinkedIn connection, I never had direct communication with her. One day Kelly called me and asked if I would be willing to read her book and give her my feedback, which I gladly did. It was refreshing to see another woman who actually gets it when it comes down to personal safety. Talking with her further I found out that the reason she decided to write the book and get a different approach in teaching other women how to be safe, was the fact that for years, Kelly saw women’s self-defense courses were focused on handling physical altercations, while domestic violence advocacy has circled around helping women who are already in abusive relationships. Meanwhile, the statistics on violence committed against women have remained stagnant for decades.
According to Kelly, there is a better way of handling these issues. Women have unbelievable intuition skills. They notice when a loved one is “off.” They feel the vibe or energy of a place. Their amazing instincts help them take care of others. What if they could use these natural abilities to enhance their situational awareness and avoid a physical fight? What if they could learn to recognize the red-flag behaviors and get out before the violence starts?
Now, they can! In her book, ‘’Sharp Women’’, Kelly Sayre breaks down ways for women to deal with everyday situations using their best self-defense weapon—their intuition. In this book, they’ll discover how to sharpen their natural skills, build a solid plan to protect themselves, and move forward through their life with confidence. One of the reasons Kelly wrote this book was the fact that she approached the topic as an everyday woman. And when she looked for answers to the questions she had on how to increase her situational awareness, as an everyday woman, the resources were scarce. There were no options for training outside of the law enforcement and military communities and some martial arts instructors. She found two books, and while she found both excellent resources, they were both written by men. Kelly decided to do more research and gain more experience with this new information and wrote the book to share what she has learned to date, from a female perspective, having experienced a lot of the scenarios she talks about firsthand.
Safety doesn’t happen by accident….Author Unknown
As a female in the security industry for two decades and as a martial arts athlete since my early childhood days, I had the opportunity to sit in many ‘’self-defense’’ and combatives classes. As an experienced woman and athlete on the training mat as well as the security professional working in real-life scenarios in different environments, I found most of these teachings were ‘’irrelevant’’, ‘’insufficient’’, and ‘’unrealistic’’ especially when delivered to women who had never practiced any kind of close contact fights or knew anything about safety. And here is this writer who had put down her questions, did her research, and put together a great book that can teach an everyday woman how to be safer. A book I truly feel can be useful to my daughters or mother. In simple words, with research and real scenarios and examples, Kelly has managed to put together a useful guide of how to be A Sharp Woman.
If you are a woman interested in learning more about how to be safe, grab her book or send her a message on LinkedIn with your questions. If you represent an organization or school reach out to Kelly for a presentation or speech.
Founder & CEO
Bias is a topic that many industries like to avoid, and the security and intelligence industries are no exception. However, there is a profound need to discuss biases in regard to the security industry and when educating security practitioners and intelligence analysts. When the subject of biases has been raised in the past, the majority of commentators cannot seem to agree, in fact, they will often argue against the existence of biases and/or why there is a need to discuss them in the first place. In this article, we would like to address the topic of bias – what bias is, who has biases, are biases wrong, and what types of biases there are. Then, we will highlight WHY it is important for security professionals and intelligence analysts to be able to identify their biases and address them, and, then, we will share HOW one can identify his/her biases.
Now before we start, there is one thing on which we can all agree: As a security professional, you don’t only make assessments about incidents or places, but also about people. Keep this in mind as we proceed further, we will come back to it.
What is bias?
To answer this, we will use the definition according to the American Psychological Association
1. partiality: an inclination or predisposition for or against something. See also prejudice.
4. any deviation of a measured or calculated quantity from its actual (true) value, such that the measurement or calculation is unrepresentative of the item of interest. —biased adj.
There are a few key words from the definition — predisposition, against, tendency, preference”. Keep those words in mind when thinking about how they affect the threat assessment of a security professional. While you do that, think of a scenario when a security guard has to assess, either by observation or by interviews, any visitors in the area for which he/she is responsible. That security guard believes that women are less likely to commit a crime (bias) and, during his/her threat assessment, he/she misses the fine details that a woman is, in all actuality, a terrorist. You think perhaps this couldn’t occur? Well, it has actually happened. In July 2017 in Mosul, a female suicide bomber, holding her child in her arms, managed to walk by security guards and detonate her bomb.
The security guards, instead of being observational and watching her hands (in which she was holding the detonator), just saw a mother with her child. Many people see women as weak and incapable of committing acts of terror, especially one who is carrying her own child. This is not the only incident when ‘’miscalculation of threat or of threat actors’’ was catastrophic.
Do all people have biases?
Before we answer that, ask yourself, “Are there people, things, or ideas you like better than others? Are there places/events where you feel more comfortable than others?” We are sure your answer to these questions is “yes” and that is because all humans have biases. Some biases are passed to us through evolution and some are learned through socialization and/or direct experience. One must understand that biases serve a purpose. Simply put, because the human brain has the tendency to categorize information, people, events, experiences, etc. during his/her learning and development process, the brain will connect the new information and people to past experiences. Once that is done, the brain will respond to it in the same way it does to other things belonging to that same category. So, by putting people with similar traits into a specific category, one believes that everyone else in that category must be the same. Biases are not limited to race, gender, ethnicity, religion, social or political groups but many characteristics may be subjected to one’s biases such as physical appearance, sexual orientation, educational level, profession, etc.
Are biases wrong and racist?
When discussed, the majority of people tend to disregard biases, believing that even acknowledging those biases will label them as racists. The first mistake when talking about biases is when someone considers someone else good or bad based on his/her biases.
According to Matt Grawitch, PhD ‘’Biases make decision-making easier by giving us a starting point, an initial prediction, or a “leaning of the mind” regarding which choice to make. We anchor our original judgment in the biased conclusion and then adjust it based on supplemental information.’’
Having biases is not necessarily bad, wrong, or racist. In fact, we’ve discussed that biases improve the decision-making process and help the human brain to categorize new information. We could say that since biases help us simplify information processing, they basically function as rules of thumb that help us make sense of what is happening around us and make faster decisions.
However, biases can become bad and even dangerous when we treat or judge someone unfairly or when the accuracy of the decision is of the utmost importance, such as behaviour or threat assessment. In addition, what can make a bias shift from ok to “bad” is when an individual allows their biases to influence their decision-making process in such a way that they allow those biases to affect someone else in a negative fashion by either being unfair or causing a miscalculation in the threat level.
Not being able to recognize and address our biases can lead to neglecting or discounting information that would be valuable for our job functions. Information that we process and use to make decisions can directly affect a risk/threat and vulnerability assessment, an interview with a suspect, the analysis of intelligence and data, or the use of link analysis in putting together an intelligence report. In these situations, biases can become a systematic thinking error that can cloud our judgment, and, as a result, impact our decisions, thus rendering our final product limited or even useless.
What types of biases do people have?
People can have conscious biases (biased attitudes toward specific ideologies, events, groups of people, etc. that we are aware of) or unconscious biases (biases we are not aware of, cannot control, are difficult to access and can quite often influence our actions more than conscious biases).
In one of her articles, Kendra Cherry mentions that ‘’some of our cognitive biases are related to memory. The way you remember an event may be biased for a number of reasons and, that in turn, can lead to biased thinking and decision-making. Other cognitive biases might be related to problems with attention. Since attention is a limited resource, people have to be selective about what they pay attention to in the world around them.’’
If you are aware of a biased attitude, it is more likely and consciously possible for you to be able to address it during your decision-making process. However, the unconscious biases are the most ‘’dangerous” ones since it often takes specific training and study of yourself to be able to identify that you have them. Here, Carly Hallman is listing 50 types of unconscious biases. Have a look and see how one or more of them can affect your decision-making process.
- Fundamental Attribution Error: We judge others on their personality or fundamental character, but we judge ourselves on the situation.
- Self-Serving Bias: Our failures are situational, but our successes are our responsibility.
- In-Group Favoritism: We favor people who are in our in-group as opposed to an out-group.
- Bandwagon Effect: Ideas, fads, and beliefs grow as more people adopt them.
- Groupthink: Due to a desire for conformity and harmony in the group, we make irrational decisions, often to minimize conflict.
- Halo Effect: If you see a person as having a positive trait, that positive impression will spill over into their other traits. (This also works for negative traits.)
- Moral Luck: Better moral standing happens due to a positive outcome; worse moral standing happens due to a negative outcome.
- False Consensus: We believe more people agree with us than is actually the case.
- Curse of Knowledge: Once we know something, we assume everyone else knows it, too.
- Spotlight Effect: We overestimate how much people are paying attention to our behavior and appearance.
- Availability Heuristic: We rely on immediate examples that come to mind while making judgments.
- Defensive Attribution: As a witness who secretly fears being vulnerable to a serious mishap, we will blame the victim less if we relate to the victim.
- Just-World Hypothesis: We tend to believe the world is just; therefore, we assume acts of injustice are deserved.
- Naïve Realism: We believe that we observe objective reality and that other people are irrational, uninformed, or biased.
- Naïve Cynicism: We believe that we observe objective reality and that other people have a higher egocentric bias than they actually do in their intentions/actions.
- Forer Effect (aka Barnum Effect): We easily attribute our personalities to vague statements, even if they can apply to a wide range of people.
- Dunning-Kruger Effect: The less you know, the more confident you are. The more you know, the less confident you are.
- Anchoring: We rely heavily on the first piece of information introduced when making decisions.
- Automation Bias: We rely on automated systems, sometimes trusting too much in the automated correction of actually correct decisions.
- Google Effect (aka Digital Amnesia): We tend to forget information that’s easily looked up in search engines.
- Reactance: We do the opposite of what we’re told, especially when we perceive threats to personal freedoms.
- Confirmation Bias: We tend to find and remember information that confirms our perceptions.
- Backfire Effect: Disproving evidence sometimes has the unwarranted effect of confirming our beliefs.
- Third-Person Effect: We believe that others are more affected by mass media consumption than we ourselves are.
- Belief Bias: We judge an argument’s strength not by how strongly it supports the conclusion but how plausible the conclusion is in our own minds.
- Availability Cascade: Tied to our need for social acceptance, collective beliefs gain more plausibility through public repetition.
- Declinism: We tend to romanticize the past and view the future negatively, believing that societies/institutions are by and large in decline.
- Status Quo Bias: We tend to prefer things to stay the same; changes from the baseline are considered to be a loss.
- Sunk Cost Fallacy (aka Escalation of Commitment): We invest more in things that have cost us something rather than altering our investments, even if we face negative outcomes.
- Gambler’s Fallacy: We think future possibilities are affected by past events.
- Zero-Risk Bias: We prefer to reduce small risks to zero, even if we can reduce more risk overall with another option.
- Framing Effect: We often draw different conclusions from the same information depending on how it’s presented.
- Stereotyping: We adopt generalized beliefs that members of a group will have certain characteristics, despite not having information about the individual.
- Outgroup Homogeneity Bias: We perceive out-group members as homogeneous and our own in-groups as more diverse.
- Authority Bias: We trust and are more often influenced by the opinions of authority figures.
- Placebo Effect: If we believe a treatment will work, it often will have a small physiological effect.
- Survivorship Bias: We tend to focus on those things that survived a process and overlook ones that failed.
- Tachypsychia: Our perceptions of time shift depending on trauma, drug use, and physical exertion.
- Law of Triviality (aka “Bike-Shedding”): We give disproportionate weight to trivial issues, often while avoiding more complex issues.
- Zeigarnik Effect: We remember incomplete tasks more than completed ones.
- IKEA Effect: We place higher value on things we partially created ourselves.
- Ben Franklin Effect: We like doing favors; we are more likely to do another favor for someone if we’ve already done a favor for them than if we had received a favor from that person.
- Bystander Effect: The more other people are around, the less likely we are to help a victim.
- Suggestibility: We, especially children, sometimes mistake ideas suggested by a questioner for memories.
- False Memory: We mistake imagination for real memories.
- Cryptomnesia: We mistake real memories for imagination.
- Clustering Illusion: We find patterns and “clusters” in random data.
- Pessimism Bias: We sometimes overestimate the likelihood of bad outcomes.
- Optimism Bias: We sometimes are over-optimistic about good outcomes.
- Blind Spot Bias: We don’t think we have bias, and we see it on others more than ourselves.
WHY security professionals and intelligence analysts must address bias training?
As a security professional or intelligence analyst, seeing what biases are and how they can significantly affect us, do you see how important it is to recognize and address them during the decision-making process? Do you see how biases can affect your risk and threat assessment, information gathering and analysis as well as behavioural assessment while you are conducting a first interview with a visitor, suspicious person, etc.?
We will give you an example. During the Manchester arena attack investigation, one of the security guards claimed that he did feel something was “off” with one of the terrorists but he was uncertain of how to approach and ask questions (first interview of a suspect) because he was afraid he was going to be labelled a “racist’’.
Being trained in how to recognize and address your biases will not only help you to make a better decision but will also give you peace of mind and confidence knowing that you are approaching and properly interviewing a person whose presence seems to be unjustified and/or suspicious. You will be able to clearly gather more information and assess the risk without feeling that you are merely racially profiling that person. You will also build more awareness of the subjects with which you hold biases and that awareness will lead to more choices. More choices will lead to a more ‘’open mind’’ and allow you to seek further information before you make a decision.
In connection to why biases and the training on them are important and related to the security industry, we must mention here Richard Gasaway, Ph.D, the creator of the Center for the Advancement of Situational Awareness and Decision making, has highlighted the fact that ‘’Confirmation bias is particularly challenging to situational awareness because it can prohibit the uptake of critical clues and cues that can foretell impending doom.’’
Now that we have discussed the many aspects of biases, what they are and how they can affect your decision-making process do you want to test yourself and find out what biases you have? You can use one of the many online tests available, the Implicit Association Test (IAT) created by Harvard.
This will help you assess and better identify all that biases you or your staff may have that can affect risk and threat assessments as well as intelligence gathering and analysis. In addition, your staff’s performance and how they interact with others to make sure their decision making will be as accurate as can be ascertained from the information provided and not just from their own personal biases.
If you are an individual interested in receiving training in biases or you represent an organization looking to train your employees in this very much needed and important topic, please reach out to us.
AUS Global Special Services Travel Team
Managing Partner LeMareschal LLC
Denida Zinxhiria Grow
Founder & CEO
Managing Partner LeMareschal LLC
One of the biggest misconceptions for new Executive Protection practitioners is that they have an innocent and naive belief that they will land the best client, the one who is aware about what Executive Protection is, the one who is very active and physically trained, the one who will be following up with security directions, the one who will care about his/her agents’ wellbeing and the one who will be easy going and friendly.
Yes, the perfect client does exist, but it may take you quite some time in your career to get one, if at all. Considering clients have their own character traits, let’s talk about those clients who, day to day, are facing a physical disability such as paralysis, Parkinson’s, Multiple Sclerosis, or even a semi-permanent injury. And remember, being simply advanced in years may have a substantial affect on their movements and therefore create some unique challenges in providing protective services for them.
The German Politician Wolfgang Schäuble has been bound to a wheelchair since 1990 after an assassination attempt, actor Michael J. Fox has been fighting with Parkinson’s disease for decades and actress Selma Blair has been living with multiple sclerosis since 2018. What all these famous people have in common is also a protective detail and Executive Protection Agents providing services for them. So have you ever wondered what an EP agent must take into consideration when he/she is hired to provide services for an individual with physical limitations or disabilities? While the primary goal remains the same, ‘’Protect the Principal’’, the way in which you are achieving it may be a little bit different in these types of situations.
- First of all, do your due diligence and get informed on the specific circumstances that surround your prospective client. There are a number of crucial items you should know. Medical condition, abilities/inabilities, current medications, private physician info, etc. The more you know, the better you will be when providing services for them.
- At your first meeting, ask them about their needs and if they have particular expectations from you. Ask about any specific instructions for their care day to day.
- Consider how much time it takes for them to go from point A to B and plan/design scenarios around having to evacuate them (with or without the wheelchair or any walking aids).
- Learn all about their specific wheelchair functions and movement (Or any walking aids).
- Always ask permission before jumping to help, especially when in public or in the company of other people. Don’t assume that they may always want or need your help. At this point in their lives, they can feel that an enormous amount of their personal freedom has been stripped away.
- Always keep in mind, people with disabilities are still people and they still have a great many things they like or want.
- Be patient and polite when offering any help. Don’t try to rush them. What for you may seem easy, for them may be hard, painful or even seem impossible.
- Recognize and respect their personal space and time. Yes, even a person who needs assistance to move around and depends on you will still have need of his/her own personal space or time.
- Don’t ‘’over-do it’’, let them breathe from time to time. You do NOT have to be in the room every waking second.
- Always be prepared to make adjustments or accommodations to make their life easier and look for ways to develop methods to better assist them.
- Always take into consideration their special needs (physical and medical) when you have to visit venues, attend events, travel into other countries, book a hotel room, make dinner reservations etc. Have in mind, not many countries are as progressive as we are when it comes to customers with physical disabilities. Having a highly-skilled advance agent who can plan these details accordingly is a great advantage in these cases.
- Ensure that someone from the team is ahead of you, taking care to be sure there is a clear path for your client to enter or exit with the wheelchair or walking aid, wherever you may have to go.
- If there is no threat, give them their time and have patience while moving to discourage pressured or awkward moments.
- In the event of an imminent moment of threat or danger, have you planned ahead and are you, or a group of you, capable of lifting that person up properly and assisting in a quick and safe evacuation?
- Be quite careful of your language both while in the presence or in the absence of your client. While many professionals are aware which words can be offensive for a person who has a disability, some may accidentally offend someone without meaning to. When you work for people with disabilities you want them to feel respected and empowered. In order to accomplish that, simply place emphasis on someone as the person first, by name, and then, only if needed, mention the disability if logistics would require it to avoid embarrassment or frustration
Now let’s talk about clients who are dealing with mental health disorders, which are the most common issues an Executive Protection agent may have to deal with and can be hard to detect unless you are told or you are quick to recognize.
Most common reported names and examples (as per their public confessions):
- Elon Musk – Asperger’s Syndrome
- Chrissy Teigen – Postpartum Depression
- Demi Lovato – Bipolar Disorder
- Steve Young – Social Anxiety Disorder
- Donny Osmond – Social Anxiety Disorder
- Michael Phelps – ADHD
- Dan Reynolds – Clinical Depression
- Leonardo DiCaprio – Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder
- Daniel Radcliffe – Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder
- Lady Gaga – PTSD
- Adele – Postpartum Depression
- Prince Harry – Severe Anxiety during royal events
- Chris Evans – Social Anxiety
- Jim Carrey – Depression
Why it is important to be aware of your client’s mental health disorders? Because what they are dealing with affects the way they see life, you, threats, others etc. Just by simply being aware, you enable yourself to make the necessary adjustments in how you approach them, interact with them and how you provide services to them. Imagine the client who goes into a full panic attack when walking through and dealing with crowds or the client who suffers from dementia and you have to introduce yourself for the 100th time.
Although we highly emphasize the importance of creating and maintaining a medical profile for your client and keeping the involved agents apprised of this information, not many companies practice this. Until you are informed about a disorder or medical malady by your supervisor, predecessor or the client himself, it may take you quite some time with dedicated personal observation and study to discover what you are dealing with. Again, do your due diligence to find out what the condition is or may be. If you can consult with a therapist, do so while always maintaining the utmost discretion and confidentiality. In a case where this may not be possible, an easy way to find more information is by using the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), the handbook used by health care professionals as a guide to the diagnosis of mental disorders. The book contains descriptions, symptoms, and other criteria for diagnosing mental disorders. However, as with “Googling” your symptoms on the internet, one must be very careful of how to use this handbook and the information it contains.
How you approach your clients who may suffer from mental health disorders is very important and can help by creating a healthy relationship and a positive protective detail while avoiding conflicts and awkward or embarrassing events.
These are some key points to have in mind:
- During a crisis moment, pause, stand back and assess the situation before approaching. What you see on initial approach may not be as it appears.
- Be careful with your tone, speak slowly and in a calm manner. You, your tone and your body language have an enormous effect on the situational outcome.
- If need be, introduce yourself again, explain why you are there and ask how you can be of assistance.
- If they appear disoriented, reassure them, remaining calm yourself. This will have a drastic effect on their mental status as well.
- Listen to what they would like and respect their wishes if possible.
- Do not rush them, create space and give them their time.
- Make sure you are providing a quiet and discreet place for them, if needed, kindly request that all other people present exit to allow them a few minutes of quiet.
- Remain calm and have patience. Listen, don’t speak…Sometimes a willing ear is all that is required to assist in a peaceful outcome.
- Try to identify the cause of their respective triggers and reduce any noise levels and confusion.
- Keeping their triggers in mind, always take appropriate measures while travelling or attending events to eliminate awkward moments or embarrassing circumstances.
- Know your limits and recognize the difference between what you feel comfortable handling and when it is time to ask for a professional intervention.
- Never forget, you are NOT their therapist but their Executive Protection agent, concerned about their wellbeing.
- If you are interested to learn more and being more prepared, there are many Psychological First Aid or Intervention to Crisis classes available online.
Dealing with someone who has physical disabilities or mental health disorders is no easy task, no matter how well prepared you are, and especially when you are facing it from the aspect of an Executive Protection agent. However, when you have done your due diligence, sharpened your client awareness skills and made all the required and necessary preparations, you can achieve calmer details with very few calamities and avoid unneeded conflicts and give your client security, confidence and peace of mind.
Understanding that the people you interact with, provide assistance to or the very person you are directly protecting, is in pain, stressed, fearful, angry or extremely confused, etc and being able to recognize these moments and have a plan of how to deal with it properly, will help soothing these anxious and difficult behaviors at the earliest possible stage providing a stable, professional platform from which to provide services.
AUS Global Special Services Travel Team
Managing Partner LeMareschal LLC
Denida Zinxhiria Grow
Founder & CEO
Managing Partner LeMareschal LLC
We are just now learning of and reading about the allegations of two personnel, one a security agent and the other an estate manager, who were previously employed by the household of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan. As the two former employees have begun to file their respective lawsuits against the billionaire couple and their family-related corporate entities, we must finally face the uncomfortable conclusion that these incidents have actually occurred and that similar circumstances have been happening for some time all throughout the world and seem to be dramatically increasing.
“We were told to ‘keep our mouths shut and forget about it’ so we would not labeled as ‘trouble makers’”…We were told, ”He had a bad day”…We were told, ”Do you know who that guy is?” in an effort to intimidate us and make us wary of speaking out. We were told, “What happens here, stays here.”
The truth is, no matter who one is (Or imagines himself/herself to be) or what kind of a day he/she supposedly had, no one has the right to, or should be forgiven for, insulting you, bullying you or sexually harassing you. During my 19 years in this industry, I have personally experienced or witnessed many quite similar cases. I have quit details because of a constant atmosphere of harassment.
Can I ”take it”?. Just because you may be able to deal with this type of situation doesn’t mean in any way that you should allow yourself to be put in that situation any longer. So, yeah, I can “take it”, but I do not have to, nor will I any longer.
Discrimination can be when you are told you can’t do the job just because you are a woman. Discrimination is, quite often, when your team members do not trust your skills and see you as a liability or another person to be protected. Discrimination is when they believe that due to your origin or your religious beliefs, you can not be an ample protector. Discrimination is also when your opinions during briefing and debriefing aren’t given a chance to be heard cause you are seen or quietly labeled as ”Not good enough”.
Harassment is not only when someone is being inappropriate directly to you, but also when they think they can use vulgar language or behave inappropriately in your presence because they don’t think you feminine enough, you’re “Just one of the guys” or they seek to shock you. Harassment is also when they ”accidentally” touch you or parade around semi-naked or naked in front of you at the compound. Remember, harassment takes on many forms and can happen in many ways.
Bullying is another issue that is all too prevalent. This can occur when your team lead or supervisor judges you based on your gender and blame you for everything. Bullying is being informed that your side of the story doesn’t matter.
Bullying is also being an ass to someone merely because of what position you hold. In a recent chat with a colleague, he brought up a name, with whom I had a personal experience. When I told him how he treated his employees and, most importantly women, he said ”That is weird, he has never done anything like that to me”…Well, of course not. Because, primarily, you are a man and secondarily, these people act accordingly to their perceived level of power.
So when someone is being harassed, bullied or discriminated against, take a moment to sit down and listen to them. Just because it hasn’t happened to you doesn’t mean it is not happening to others. If you are the one being harassed, bullied or discriminated against, have in mind you do not have to just ”deal with it” or ”forget about it”. Don’t allow it to begin in the first place. Set your standard and expectations right from the beginning. Expect professionalism and respect from your colleagues and give them the same in return. Keep documents, report it and if needed, seek legal help. If you are a company owner or someone who makes these types of decisions, seek further training on the subjects for all your employees. A well-organized team can and will unravel quite rapidly and unexpectedly in these types of circumstances and no one wants that to occur. There are plenty of free training programs on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.
Denida Zinxhiria Grow
One of the biggest challenges that the majority of the security companies will have to deal with is not so much being able to obtain a contract, but to be able to properly maintain that contract once it’s signed and done. We are all quite aware of how many times the intricate contracts for various clients have changed hands over the years. While some might think it is hard to land a good contract, maintaining it professionally and properly while providing what you are being paid for may be very difficult for some companies. According to numerous studies, the average company loses nearly 10% of their clients due to their poor contract management. Why is that? Well, managing contracts (and the corresponding projects) is an overlooked form of corporate leadership and a large part of a company’s operational function and market viability. Project and contract managers must be able to interact frequently with their agents in the field, subcontractors, vendors, stakeholders, family offices and, more often as not, the client himself/herself.
‘’The International Association for Contract & Commercial Management (IACCM) identifies 7 major areas of contract management weakness:
- Disagreement regarding contract scope
- Weaknesses in contract change management/retention
- Performance failures due to over-commitment
- Performance issues related to a disagreement/misunderstanding over what was committed or requested
- Inappropriate contract structures
- Disputes over pricing
- Issues with subcontractors’’
Now let’s discuss some of the most common causes that may cost a security provider one of their contracts:
- You are charging significantly more than is proper (Faulty Pricing)
At some point we have to admit that quite a number of companies will overcharge a client merely because of who the client is and not particularly what their security needs or threat level may be. You cannot begin to expect one client/contract to change your own wealth status or single handedly build your company’s gross revenue and/or profit. It is neither ethical nor professional for your corporation to make 2 to 3 times more profit than the agents working the detail on the ground. We all have our levels of operational expenses, but don’t pass that bill on to the client or your protective agents. Make a profit, but make one within logical expectations.
2. You are ‘’suffocating’’ your client
Either: A) You have placed more agents than are needed (Again, this comes back around to profit: The more agents on the ground, the more you can charge), B) Your agents are not exercising proper situational awareness and how to be flexible with protection levels versus the client’s perception of asphyxiation, or C) The company holding the contract has not done a proper Risk/Threat/Vulnerability Assessment and/or are not trained, experienced or knowledgeable enough to ascertain proper staffing and logistics. Some companies will ‘’overreact’’ on the threat level to make their services appear quite necessary to the client, while in reality, achieving the opposite result.
3. Not being able to provide services as promised
A protective detail is comprised of many elements and sometimes you have to be able to provide additional services as you go. You must be the one who can foresee what is or will be needed and provide it before the client even asks for it. We have heard of many companies who fail to render even the basics of what they agreed to provide. We have seen details operating with less manpower than what was requested or changing the personnel so often because they fail to keep the professional agents or cannot staff it properly. Have in mind, clients need stability and familiarity and will become unsettled when they see or must become accustomed to new faces.
4. Failure to accommodate clients needs and solve operational issues (Lack of Customer Insight)
We’ve all heard the phrase, “The client is always right”, correct? Well, from the moment you signed that contract, you alone are the one who must do whatever it takes to construct a smooth protective detail and provide peace of mind to the person who hired you. You alone are the one who must be stressed, work long hours and find a way to solve any issue with the security team or the client’s needs, not the client. It must appear as though all is under control and operational.
5. You are not providing services to a level or standard that is expected and required
We can all agree that our prospective clients will want 3 things: A) To be protected, B) To have the best close protection agents, staff and logistics that their finances can obtain (they fully believe they are paying for the best either way) and C) To have peace of mind. If your corporation is hiring unqualified, unprofessional or unethical agents, or utilizing contractors of the same substandard quality because you refuse to pay for the ‘’good ones’’, the client will soon start looking for another company.
6. Your Project or Contract Manager has no vested interest in the contract (Neglected Contracts)
This occurs so many times when the person who is working for an ‘A’ list company, as a Project or Contract manager, simply doesn’t care to deal with the issues, stay intricately involved or maintain the contract for his company. Most fail to have good communication skills, which is one of the key elements when dealing with clients, vendors, staff, stakeholders or agents in the field. How you communicate during common, day to day interactions with people or personalities will be just as valuable, or more in some cases, as to how you react during a crisis situation and the solutions you are expected to provide. Merely having a project or contract manager on your staff isn’t nearly enough. You must have an individual who can be extremely flexible, can develop a strategy out of thin air and be able to solve complex issues, without raising undue alarm, if they arise.
While these are just a few of the common pitfalls that a contract manager may find themselves encumbered with, each client and contract are unique and every company needs their respective contract managers to be creative, innovative, and highly observational so as to catch any of these issues far before they become problematic and present solutions to overcome them. Our task is not just to sell the client on our services and then walk away, but we are expected to, and should without failure, continue to provide the highest level of service and commitment to our clients that they have come to expect. The sale is the easy part…How we treat and care for the client and their contract once we sign on the dotted line will either build our reputation and lead to more success or it will cause a loss of trust and failure that cannot be easily repaired or regained resulting in the loss of the contract.
AUS Global Special Services Travel Team
Managing Partner LeMareschal LLC
Security veteran Matthieu Petrigh MSyI, launched a new website with open source training programs on an array of topics dedicated to Security Professionals and those interested in learning security. On the website, you can find a variety of free courses as well as paid (online courses or partially online courses) related to the broad concept of Security, including Risk Management, Fraud, Defense, IT Security, Resilience, Terrorism, Criminology, and more.
Courses can be provided by universities, public or private organizations.
For training providers or authors: As we are one of the contributors in this effort, if you are offering online training or you have written a book and would like it to be listed in the platform contact us at email@example.com.
Visit the directory here: Security Courses Online
We will be launching a series of educational webinars that are absolutely free to attend. The aim of the webinars won’t be to present people and their past stories, but to have specific guests who will combine their experience and training in the industry in order to teach you something new, to help your professional development and to provide consultation for you. They will share their opinions, the “do and don’ts” of the industry and answer your questions.
And the best part? The content of each webinar will be developed by you! While we are working on our next webinars, let us know either by a comment here or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org what topics would you be interested in having discussed, answered and/or receive consultation on? This is a webinar created for you, by you!
It’s not very often when we have the ability to interview and learn from our adversaries. While most efforts are seemingly focused only on physical attacks, they do not give enough emphasis to the paparazzi, media, and all that this facet of protection entails. But we’ve got you covered. This is an interview we have been wanting to do for the last 5 years. What we learned from a retired British paparazzi is that pointing a flashlight toward them won’t work, neither you are safe if you block the tail number from your private jet. We also learned how they find information about your clients, who are willing to pay a lot of money to buy your pictures (no, it is not only the media outlets), to what length they will go to distract you and get that picture and why you will be not able to buy their silence.
*Disclaimer: During this interview, you may encounter offensive language content within the realm of your site.*
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***Copyright @Athena Worldwide, a LeMareschal LLC company. Any illegal reproduction of this content will result in immediate legal action.***
The latest incident with French President Emmanuel Macron being slapped by someone in the crowd has once again fired up the keyboard warriors who take any incident (video or picture) such as this and claim how improperly the Executive Protection team functioned and what would they have done differently and, of course, be more successful. As a Greek proverb says ‘’Whoever is outside the dance (floor), can sing many songs’’ Meaning: It is easy to talk about something when you are not the one involved in it.
As security practitioners, we must be very careful what we say online, keeping in mind, whatever you post online stays online even if you delete it minutes later. We should not criticize security details and/or the people involved because we do not know all the facts, details, limitations and the full story. When you post a comment on a 10-second video, you may not have the full story. You do not know what happened before or after the incident. What you see in a photo may not be the full picture. It doesn’t make you any more ‘’professional’’ when you try to spot the wrong moves in an incident where you weren’t involved and you do not know all the parameters: you are just assuming.
In this case, we heard many opinions:
‘’Why didn’t they keep standard formation?’’- How can you keep standard formation when your principal is anticipating close interaction with a member of the crowd? Greeting lines are extremely tedious and are one of the most difficult situations to read and provide protection.
‘’The reaction time was slow.’’- The reaction time always seems to be slower when you see an incident on a video over and over again rather than being involved with it in real-time in the field.
‘’They were lucky he wasn’t holding a knife.’’ – Actually someone did their job well and made sure he (or anyone else in the crowd) wasn’t holding a weapon. What most fail to understand is that these crowds are previously checked for anything that can be used as a weapon.
‘’Why didn’t they saw that coming?’’ – They don’t teach ESP at Executive Protection schools…
‘’Why didn’t someone teach Macron?’’ – Most protectees won’t sit down and learn from you about protection, they want you to protect them. It’s not their job to know how to do yours…Why do you think you’re employed?
Now let’s address some challenges for protecting public figures and try to make some rational sense of all of this.
Protecting people whose identity depends on the public, such as politicians, in this case, is very much different than protecting a C-Suite executive for example. A politician needs the interaction with public. They shake hands, hug, get pictures with and celebrate with large crowds. Having people like them is what makes people vote for them, and they need to look and act quite approachable to everyone in order to gain votes. If they don’t get the votes, well, then they no longer hold their current political position. They have to attend gatherings and events and most of those functions may be outside of your span of control regarding organizing it. You have to provide services as best as you can with what you have and minimize whatever limitations you can.
In this case ‘’the unknown crowd’’ is the issue. The ‘’crowd’’ provides a good opportunity for the enemy to blend in, act and even escape in some cases. Also, as most public appearances are preplanned and announced, the enemy has the time to be prepared for the attack. And when we say attack, let’s clarify that “attack on your principal” is not only an assassination or physical harm but also an attack on his/her personality, reputation or by causing embarrassment.
While most EP training schools focus only on physical attacks, have in mind causing embarrassing situations may be something your principal is particularly vulnerable and endangered by, thus it is something you must be prepared to prevent. Making sure the crowd has been checked for anything that can be used as a weapon doesn’t mean you are safe from an embarrassing situation. Paying attention to people’s hands and what they are carrying doesn’t mean you can be sure about the intention of a handshake. A handshake can become a pat on the shoulder or a slap on the face. How would you know the intentions of the handshake and act within 2 seconds to prevent it? You must be in very close proximity to do that and sometimes you have limitations on how close you can be with your principal, particularly when they are interacting with the public and potential voters. When any public figure decides he/she want to come within close proximity of a voter, you are required to break the standard formations and you cannot have security between the voter and the principal because they need that ‘’personal space’’.
Act too aggressive and they will perceive this position as very unapproachable, something that goes against your principal’s political campaigns. So you have limitations or adaptations to perform your protective job competently.
Another thing to consider is that some protectees will appear uncooperative with you and your suggestions or directions. They will do the exact opposite of what you have instructed them to do or whatever the plan was because they thought doing something different was ok, safe or was suggested at the last minute by their campaign manager. Some protectees will ask you to protect them no matter what. The fact that they won’t consider changing their lifestyle, and you have to do your best, becomes another facet of the ever-evolving detail.
Have we forgotten the flying shoe incident with President Bush in a press conference in 2008? The red paint thrown at Mary Harney, Ireland’s Health Minister in November 2010? Berlusconi’s nose being broken and two teeth knocked out when a man attending a political rally threw the statuette of Milan’s Duomo gothic cathedral straight in his face in 2009? Eggs being thrown at Bill Clinton in Warsaw, Poland? Nicolas Sarkozy being a victim of a flying pie in 1997? The book thrown at Obama in 2010? The glitter attack on Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlently in 2011? Pope being attacked by a woman who jumped barriers at St Peter’s Basilica and knocked him down in 2009? The famous slap on Dimitra Liani Papandreou, the widow of ex Greek PM at her book signing by a woman who appears to be there to sign her book? Bill Gates’ “Pie-to-the-Face” fiasco? There are so many more similar incidents including paint, body fluids, pies, yoghurt, vegetables, flour and even flashing body parts such as the Femen members who went toplessness in front of the EU-Russia summit, in Brussels, in December 2012.
Can we criticize the EP team members involved in these incidents? Can we say that you would have done better after the incident has taken place? From the moment you have a complete crowd check for weapons, you are in a “secure” space. But what leads you to believe that you have a better understanding regarding the mental status of someone who appears to be a voter or a fan? Can you honestly guess his motives if he/she wants to slap, or spit or in some way embarrass your client?
If you haven’t provided security details for Public Figures, it may seem easy for you to criticize an incident like this, but criticizing what you don’t know and just assuming doesn’t make you right and it very well may show your ignorance. Instead, use this incident as a reminder that people will use anything to harm your client’s reputation and their imagination can be big and quite unpleasant. Keep it as a learning tool for yourself and yet another scenario in your head of what you would or wouldn’t do if…
Founder & CEO