Developing a Vigilant and Competent Security Culture

Updated: Jan 21

Cultural Competence

Culture and cultural identity are crucially important concepts in groups of people. Writers and researchers, as well as policy-makers and educators, increasingly realise that an individuals’ sense of cultural identity may be so important to them, that any attempt to encourage behavioural change without first considering potential cultural ramifications will face great difficulty. How our employees behave is a key indicator of our attitude to security. This is a crucial area as vigilant security behaviours such as demonstrating awareness of one’s surroundings or engaging with strangers will act as a deterrent to hostile actors who will see that its not just security guards and CCTV systems to be wary of, but potentially every single employee. Acting as a force multiplier, vigilant employees can identify suspicious activities and report them. The development of a vigilant and culturally competent workforce go hand in hand. Viewing culture as a sharing of patterns of thinking, feeling, reacting, and problem-solving, introducing and cultivating shared meanings and demonstrating appropriate behaviours during interactions, we can influence beliefs, values and behaviour, so that they become both accepted and expected as the norm within a group. These changes will present themselves through language, styles of communication, practices, customs, and views on roles and responsibilities. While we can communicate what we expect from our workforce as leaders, knowing that internal communities exist within our own business sometimes quite distinct from each other, it is important that we increase our cultural intelligence and become culturally competent. Developing a culturally competent workforce offers a plethora of benefits to organisations. This increased level of understanding provides business leaders with an opportunity to communicate and inform teams more effectively so as to enhance performance and encourage economic benefits, while providing security leaders with an opportunity to increase vigilance and thereby improve security and resilience levels. While cultural intelligence may be an ability to interpret someone’s behaviour in the same way other members of their own community would, cultural competence focuses on sensitivity to cross-cultural differences and the ability to adapt to other cultural environments or reflect awareness of cultural influences on one's thoughts and behaviours. It enables individuals to adopt appropriate and effective behaviour in an otherwise alien cultural environment. Developing skill in this area will help us to effectively communicate with people across cultures, thereby improving our ability to bring about positive behavioural change which increases the commitment of employees to developing an understanding of the part they play in a protection system. We are fundamentally looking to positively influence people so as to encourage them to care about each other, about the assets they have access to and about the business they represent. Culturally competent practice can result in positive outcomes for service customers, particularly in areas such as security, where cultural competence can improve our ability to understand every aspect of someone’s concerns, thereby enabling us to propose interventions and security solutions that are more likely to succeed. Ways to develop culturally competent practice: