Changing the face of the frontline: Lisa Baskott tells us that more women are needed in security industries

Brighton & Hove Resident Lisa Baskott is the founder and CEO of 2nd Line of Defence; the UK’s first female-focused security recruitment agency. Lisa became a qualified Security Industry Authority (SIA) licensed door supervisor in September 2021 and has worked as part of the security teams at the Hilton Brighton Metropole, The Grand Brighton hotel, Rockwater and Chalk. 

The front-line sector of the private security industry needs more women. Despite being regulated for over 20 years, women still only represent 10% of the 400k front-line licences issued in the UK. Security is seen as a male dominated industry; sectors and professions are still unnecessarily gendered in the public consciousness and are often seen as ‘man’s work’. There is no doubt in my mind that overcoming these stereotypes is the biggest problem women face when trying to enter the industry.

This outdated view fundamentally misunderstands the complex role of a modern security operative. The industry has evolved beyond brute strength, and qualities such as communication, empathy and industry knowledge are critical to modern-day security sectors, and highly valued by employers. 

Whilst female officers are qualified to the same standards as male security staff, there are certain unique advantages to hiring and deploying them. Women make up 51% of the UK population and have their own unique security needs and spaces that require female security e.g. bathrooms, dressing rooms and changing rooms in public places. For areas such as this, and for procedures like pat downs and body searches, women security officers aren’t just preferred but are required by law. A female security presence can help women feel considerably more comfortable with female security officers seen as less intimidating and more approachable to women, young people, and children.

Women are often better at defusing aggressive situations and stopping them from escalating into violence. Women tend to reach for problem solving and diplomacy to tackle conflict, which can result in a much less aggressive and confrontational outcome. This is not to say that women in security roles cannot be as equally tough as their male peers, but it’s exactly this perception of women that makes them able to defuse potentially violent situations without resorting to physical measures, especially with male customers, who are much less likely to get confrontational with female security staff.

“I’m advocating for a new approach to recruitment within the security industry; one which highlights what women can specifically bring to the role. The industry needs to think about the “customer experience” and ensure that the people that it engages with on a daily basis feel valued and listened to, because surely, respecting and reflecting the community in which it serves should be the ultimate goal.”

Diversity is the key to success. If the front-line security sector doesn’t start making changes and moving forward in this area, it’s going to fail to be relevant within many of the environments in which it operates.

Of course, employing more women doesn’t just promote diversity and inclusion, women can bring a breadth of different skills, energy levels and dynamics to a team. More needs to be done to raise the bar. We need to break down the barriers for women in security and address this imbalance quickly.

All employers engaged in front-line security need recruitment and retention models based on agility: flexible shifts for childcare and lone worker protection processes provide a reassuring safety-net for any women working on their own, as well as solutions around transporting staff to/from work shifts (where possible). Professionally, my work skills were gained outside of the security industry, and I see this as a valuable asset which enables me to bring a broader skill set to my organisation and the people working within it.

We also need to consider the next generation of security leaders and create enticing pathways for younger people to envisage the sector as a reputable career path, with progression and opportunity, not a stopgap to a “proper job”. 

“As the founder of 2nd Line of Defence, my aim is to prioritise the safety of women and vulnerable groups within the night-time cultural economy, by addressing the massive under-representation of women in the front-line security sector. 

I find myself on a journey that starts with invoking trust. I’m on a mission to bring about systemic change to make night-time life safer for all girls, women and vulnerable groups living in the UK. I want to show them that my business goals encompass their concerns, fears and hopes around the issues concerning their safety, but more importantly, to convince them that they are key to the overall solution.”

For more information on Lisa and 2nd Line of Defence visit www.2ndlineofdefence.com

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