Security is a very attractive profession for the next generation; 69% of young people working in corporate security who completed a survey said that they agreed. One of the key reasons they cited was the fact that the work of corporate security aligns with their values. However, for security to attract the top talent among younger workers, there must be greater efforts to raise technological literacy and accelerate innovation.
Corporate security’s public service ethos makes it attractive for young people
A recent survey of security professionals under the age of thirty-five found that 35% had some form of government experience, such as law enforcement, military, intelligence or diplomacy before joining the corporate security sector. This suggests security is an attractive job for people leaving public service or those looking to make a contribution to society. When asked what attracted them to their roles, survey respondents said things like, ‘to ensure that others are protected from risk as much as possible online and physically’, to perform ‘selfless service’, and to ‘keep people safe’.
One of the values that is most important to the younger generations is diversity. Deloitte found that over half of Gen Z would be reluctant to take a role from an organisation that claimed it was diverse but had little diversity in leadership roles and teams, and that these participants felt that the status of diversity in leadership was an equally significant deciding factor for them as a salary. This is also true for young professionals in corporate security; 78% of those under the age of 35 strongly agreed that diversity within corporate teams makes them more effective, and also all (90%) agreed overall.
Diversity is likely to be a factor in attracting the best talent to corporate security teams, making it an important priority for security leaders.
Advanced technology is attractive for the next generation
The next generation of workers were born into a world of rapidly evolving technology, and technology is a crucial part of work to them. Deloitte found that just over half (51%) of Gen Z rate the technology industry as their preferred area to work. Technology is seen by corporate security leaders as a critical success factor; 90% of CSOs feel that technology significantly improves both the efficiency and effectiveness of security operations.
Younger generations do not feel corporate security leaders are embracing technology fast enough. Two-thirds (32%) of those under the age of 35 believe that one of the top three obstacles for corporate security is that there is ‘insufficient technology and digital skills within corporate security’, and almost all (95%) said they ‘would like to see more investment in technology skills within corporate security’.
To become a more attractive sector to the younger generation, corporate security functions need to increase the budget for technology and adopt the latest software. To remain an attractive option for talented professionals, corporate security functions should offer technology training for all team members and invest in technology advances.
The latitude to be creative and innovative is attractive to the younger generation
Younger generations strongly value pace, variety and challenge. Security professionals under the age of 35 who responded to the survey mentioned how much they enjoy ‘high tempo’ work and sufficient ‘growth opportunities’ within the roles. The constantly evolving nature of the corporate security sector is hugely appealing to this cohort who reported that they look for work that is ‘dynamic, changing’, and ‘work that is rarely repetitive’. Corporate security professionals are constantly improving their critical thinking skills, decision making and always learning how to tackle new problems, because each incident they respond to is unique. Generally, jobs in the corporate security sector are underpinned by a strict set of rules and structure which are essential to keeping operations tight and secure, but professionals have the latitude to think on their feet, be creative, and use their initiative, which is attractive to Gen Z.
Security professionals under the age of 35 were divided on the question of whether the corporate security function is keeping pace with innovation; 55% agreed it was and 44% felt it was not. This might suggest that there is space for further innovation.
Corporate security functions that do not do enough to promote and further innovation risk being unattractive to the next generation. Corporate security functions need to push the boundaries of innovation at pace. With a current talent shortage, it is crucial that corporate security functions make improving innovation a top and urgent priority.
Summary: What is attractive, and what needs to change to make corporate security appealing to the younger generation
To summarise, corporate security is an attractive profession for younger generations because it aligns with public service values, which are important to these cohorts. To enhance its appeal, corporate security leaders should:
1. Focus on ensuring that there is diversity at all levels of the corporate security organisation, with an emphasis on ensuring that the leadership is diverse.
2. Invest more in both technology and the training of current and future employees in order to maximise efficiency.
3. Push the boundaries of innovation at a competitive pace.
If a corporate security function can successfully complete the above, then it will drive the new generation of workers into these organisations and roles.
This article draws on an unpublished survey conducted by The Clarity Factory, as part of its research for The Business Value of Corporate Security. All other sources are referenced and linked within the article.
Ella Brown is a lower sixth form student at Latymer Upper School