The physical security industry, like many others, has historically been a male-dominated profession from both a channel and end-users perspective. Being that security has served as a second career to many law enforcement and military veterans, it should come as little surprise that this has been the case. Increasingly, however, women are beginning to play a more prominent role in the industry and can be found in a number of senior leadership positions among security manufacturers, integrators and even the risk management hierarchy of end-user organizations in the public and private sector.
But while many women have successfully climbed the corporate ladder in security, some say the industry still has a long way to go when it comes to leveling the playing field for the sexes. One person who has been a champion for women in the market for a number of years is Edwina (“Eddie”) Reynolds, the President and CEO of iluminar. Reynolds was recently announced as this year’s recipient of the SIA Progress Award, which recognizes those who have paved the way to success for women in the security industry. She is the first person to ever receive the award, which will be presented during SIA Honors Night next month in New York City.
Reynolds began her career in the industry during mid-90s as an account executive for Chubb Fire & Security and would go on to work for Pinkerton Security, Rainbow CCTV and Sony before founding iluminar in 2009. Reynolds said that receiving the Progress Award and the recognition that comes with it not only means a lot to her personally but she hopes it will also serve as an inspiration to all women that the security industry has a lot to offer them in the way of a successful career.
“I’m always trying to inspire women to do more in the industry and reinforce that this industry is good for them,” she says. “This industry allows you to go higher and being recognized as someone that has done that means a lot to me.”
Grabbing the Brass Ring
While Reynolds admits that there has been some progress in advancing women in the security field since she first entered it more than two decades ago, she believes there is certainly more room for female entrepreneurs and for women to advance to senior executive positions at a wide range of organizations. “There is a lot of room for growth for women in that part of the industry and this industry allows for that. If they want it, they can have it,” Reynolds explains.
One of the ways the industry can make itself more attractive as a career for women, according to Reynolds, is by recognizing the accomplishments of women in the profession through efforts like the Progress Award.
“When you see someone similar to yourself you think, ‘If she can do it, I can do it,’” Reynolds adds. “Promoting women in the industry, our achievements and women in executive-level positions, it’s as simple as that, really.”
Changing Outdated Mindsets
Given the long history of the physical security industry and how entrenched some people have become within various companies – be it product manufacturers, integrators or otherwise – Reynolds says it’s not shocking that there aren’t more females occupying senior leadership positions across the market but as women start to feel more comfortable getting into the field, she feels that will change. What is surprising though, according to Reynolds, is that there are a minority of people in the industry who still cling to old school mindsets when it comes to women in the workplace, such as the notion that younger women will not be around long as they settle down and have families.
“I know that’s so wrong these days but that’s kind of the mindset of the older generation of males that were running things in the industry… but I think that has really changed a lot in our industry – how men see women,” she says.
Never Give Up
Reynolds credits her success to men and women within the industry who pushed her forward and genuinely wanted to see her succeed. She advises women that are considering entering the profession or looking to advance their current position to never give up nor get discouraged.
“I love what I do. When you’re happy and feel the love of what you do, a lot of people are willing to help you as long as you help yourself,” she says. “I could sit there and say, ‘Gosh, I’m a black woman in the industry, nobody’s going to like me.’ But I didn’t let that stop me. I love what I do, I’m a believer in my product and my company and I’ve just had a lot of opportunities because of that. You never know who you are impressing, just be yourself and get out there and hustle!”
About the Author:
Joel Griffin is the Editor-in-Chief of SecurityInfoWatch.com and a veteran security journalist. You can reach him at [email protected].