Getting the message out

Sandy Sandquist, director of security for General Mills, and the Security Executive Council outline how to improve awareness programs by getting the right information to the right people, at the right time.

This process keeps Sandquist in regular contact with business unit leaders, puts them in the driver's seat to ensure alignment, and makes them aware of security's strategy and programs. Sandquist also sits on the company's Enterprise Risk Management Committee, which is another forum that enables him to better align his program and provide bi-directional support to the business.

"In addition to that, we use brochures to train employees and raise awareness on our core mitigation programs, such as our food defense program and our respect in the workplace program, and we use these in multiple languages across the world," Sandquist says. "It is very important that we get the right information to people, so we use specifically targeted brochures. We provide a weekly intelligence report about events going on around the world in areas where we are located. We provide that information to senior leaders and also to those who regularly travel to those areas."

Again, Sandquist emphasizes, awareness is not about creating a pamphlet or marching in saying "I'm security and I'm here to help." It is just one part of an overarching strategy to improve business, and it ties in with alignment and risk management.

"It's not one thing - it is tying these many things together and making sure they have a singular focus or strategy in creating that awareness, and that tends to flow upward," Sandquist says. "We are trying to influence our entire population - not just management or employees - and reinforcing the fact that they all play a role in security.

"If you are out there truly attempting to help business leaders meet their forward-thinking objectives five years out and helping them with solutions on risk, you become part of the solution, and from that comes the credibility that allows you to continue with the process of creating awareness across the entire employee population," he concludes. "It tends to tumble over and grow itself."

Marleah Blades is senior editor for the Security Executive Council, a problem-solving research and services organization that involves a wide range of risk management decision makers. Its community includes forward-thinking practitioners, agencies, universities, NGOs, innovative solution providers, media companies and industry groups. Backed by a Faculty of more than 100 successful current and former security executives, the Council creates groundbreaking Collective Knowledge(tm) research, which is used as an essential foundation for its deliverables. For more information about the Council, visit