Championing women and diversity in the security workforce

March 8, 2019
Panel of female security execs share their thoughts on International Women’s Day, industry’s future

International Women’s Day is a global initiative that honors the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. Occurring on March 8, this annual celebration dates back to 1911. While International Women’s Day recognizes women’s achievements, it also calls for greater inclusion, action and advocacy.

As Google CEO Sundar Pichai has previously stated, “a diverse mix of voices leads to better discussions, decisions and outcomes for everyone.” This is connected to the theme for this year’s International Women’s Day, which is #BalanceforBetter. “Balance is not a women's issue, it's a business issue,” the organization states on its website.  

A key part of realizing this balance and diversity is encouraging greater gender participation and representation. This starts with enhancing the visibility of female perspectives at conferences, networking events, award galas as well as in editorial publications, which the Security Industry Association’s Women in Security Forum is actively spearheading. It continues with ongoing conversations that feature the varied voices of women in the security industry.

To mark the occasion, we have pulled together five female security executives and asked them to share their thoughts on International Women’s Day and the future of the security industry.

Meet the Panel

  • Eddie Reynolds, CEO & Co-Founder of iluminar
  • Valorie Windsor, NA Business Development Lead for Video Surveillance, Seagate Technology
  • Ashley Grabowski, Regional Marketing Manager for the Americas at MOBOTIX
  • Fawzia Atcha, Ph.D., Vice President of IMRON Corporation
  • Maria Cambria, Vice President of the Technical Center of Excellence at FLIR Systems

What does International Women’s Day mean to you personally and professionally?

Reynolds: It is fantastic to have a day to celebrate women because humankind could not survive without us. Not only are we mothers, caregivers, teachers and nurturers but we are also leaders, business owners and employees fully committed to our line of work.

Windsor: I see International Women’s Day as a celebration of women as a whole, regardless of race, background, income, education, etc. It is an opportunity to celebrate small, everyday achievements in various areas, in particular, supporting women and girls to achieve their goals. 

Grabowski: It presents an opportunity for companies and individuals alike to reflect both on how far we’ve come in gender equality, but perhaps even more importantly, look ahead to determine what we can do today to improve tomorrow. There’s no doubt that we’ve made great strides, but there’s still a lot we can improve on. And personally, I never pass up a chance to throw up a peace sign and shout “Girl power!” 

Atcha: International Women's Day is a great day for awareness and movement. When young girls are contemplating their future, they should venture on a path that captures their imagination and should not be hindered by stereotypical rhetoric. Learning and knowledge is gender agnostic. I have been fortunate enough to have experienced both science and technology in a comprehensive manner– science through my 13-year academic pursuit and technology through the past 15 plus years at IMRON Corporation.

Cambria: Personally, being a working mom, I am happy women are being recognized for all they contribute to society and business. I don’t think one day is enough to celebrate those contributions, but at least the dialogue continues to happen. Professionally, I think it’s great that more companies like FLIR are focused on diversity and inclusion. I was recently at a leadership meeting, and it was amazing to see all the diversity in the audience.

What do you feel the future of the security industry looks like globally and domestically?

Reynolds: I think on a global and domestic level technology will continue to grow more intelligent. As our cameras and other sensors get smarter, our solutions will become much more agile, and monitoring stations will become more prevalent as a way to remotely verify data in real time.

Windsor: Physical security is only going to continue to expand and become more prevalent. I also believe technology is merging industries together. There will be a proliferation of data as well as collecting, analyzing and using this data to make decisions and determine outcomes.

Grabowski: There’s little doubt in my mind that security will become more seamlessly integrated in multiple aspects of our lives, personally and professionally. Because of this presence, I also look forward to seeing security companies’ marketing become more active in social responsibility campaigns. Is there an industry that affects people from all walks of life more than security? 

Atcha: I believe that security will continue to be an extension of us. Currently, facial recognition, biometrics and Bluetooth technology are used with great proficiency and accuracy in other parts of the world.  These extensions will become more prevalent domestically as people continue to be more mindful of security.

Cambria: I think the future will see more integration of individual systems, as unified solutions give users greater real-time insights that yield a more complete picture. More systems will use predictive analytics. Projects will become more solutions based versus solving one problem at a time.

If you could go back and give your younger self one piece of advice to succeed in the security industry, what would it be?

Reynolds: Get iron clad contracts! But also know your worth and never settle for less, because if you don’t know your worth, no one else will. If you want something, don’t be afraid to go after it, and never shy away from asking for what you want.

Windsor: Embrace the opportunity to learn something new – a new process; a new technology; a new way of doing business.  Think outside the box and look at the scenarios and opportunities you’re given from a strategic standpoint. Enjoy what you’re doing, and others will enjoy being around you.  Life is short, and don’t sweat the small stuff. 

Grabowski: Believe in what you bring to the table and don’t be intimidated; you’re here for a reason.

Atcha: Stay curious...not only for the security industry but for any industry. Curiosity leads to questions, and questions lead to the pursuit of knowledge and answers. Be open-minded with these answers and see if there is something you can do to improve, enhance and optimize the results.

Cambria: Be brave.  Being brave benefits you, the company and the customers. Taking risks initiates change. 

About the Author

Tory Hinton | Director of Public Relations at Maize Marketing

Tory Hinton currently serves as the director of public relations at Maize Marketing, where she spearheads sustainable marketing campaigns for companies in the security and technology sectors. She graduated from University of Southern California and holds two bachelor's degrees in public relations and history.

About the Author

Savannah Irwin | Marketing Coordinator at Maize Marketing

Savannah Irwin currently serves as the marketing coordinator at Maize Marketing where she initiates inbound marketing and content campaigns for a range of security technology companies. Savannah is a certified Agency Partner with HubSpot and holds bachelor’s degree from Santa Fe College.