New report from The Clarity Factory presents a model for effective, business-enabling corporate security in a volatile and complex global business environment.
The role and position of corporate security
Today’s global business environment presents challenges to multinational corporations that impact the place and role of the corporate security function. Geopolitics is back on the agenda, ranked by business leaders as the most important security risk facing their company. As they grapple with the Russian invasion of Ukraine, China’s influence in its near neighbourhood as well as Africa and the Middle East, and the highest levels of political risk and unrest for five years, geopolitics affects everything from supply chains and operational resilience to personnel security and market exit. Four-fifths of business leaders think the next decade will be marked by varying degrees of volatility.
Companies face sophisticated and persistent security threats, ranging from crime, organised crime and insider risk to ransomware attacks and state espionage, and receive diminishing support from law enforcement agencies. The risks they face are increasingly interconnected, which requires a more unified view of risk, focused as much on the connections between risks as the risks themselves. Multinational companies are undergoing significant change internally, including efforts to use technology, data and digitalisation to drive innovation and efficiency. They are also impacted by social and political trends that shift their risk profile; they are greater targets for activism, insider risk and workplace violence.
Most of these trends are not novel, but the scale of change and profundity of impact require business leaders to adapt.They are responding in a number of ways, including increasing their risk appetite, shifting locations and supply chains, increasing scenario planning, bolstering crisis management capability and seeking a different kind of leader with strong soft skills alongside administrative and financial competence.
About this report
This report seeks to understand what these trends mean for the corporate security function: its value proposition, narrative and positioning, leadership, talent strategy, areas of responsibility, relationship to the rest of the business, innovation, external stakeholders, and changing C-Suite needs. It is intended as a guide for senior business leaders, as they make decisions, such as who to hire as their CSO, how to measure their performance, adequately resource the function, and benefit from corporate security’s potential contribution across the value chain.
The report is based on a 12-month independent research project, which was funded by ten companies: AstraZeneca, Barclays, CRH, Holcim, ICF, Johnson Matthey, Proman, Shell, Sibylline and Sky. It involved structured interviews with CSOs and business executives outside the security function, global surveys of CSOs and security professionals under the age of 35, a series of expert interviews, and a thorough review of existing data. The views expressed in the report are those of The Clarity Factory, and do not necessarily reflect those of the research partners.
There is no one-size-fits-all; companies will need to adapt the model presented in this report according to their sector, geographical footprint, products, activities and risk appetite, and there are different levels of maturity among corporate security functions. The report focuses on corporate security at multinational corporations. While aspects might be relevant for other types of organisations, they are not the focus of this study.
The business value of corporate security
Corporate security has always been an essential function for multinational corporations; maintaining the security of people, property and assets, enhancing resilience, and enabling the corporation to seize opportunities without undue risk. As leaders grapple with the challenges outlined in this report, the importance corporate security is high, its influence never greater.
Senior leaders who support their CSOs in pursuing the vision outlined in this report will realise the business value of corporate security.
The Business Value of Corporate Security: Sustainable commercial success through resilience, insight and crisis leadership in a volatile world, by Rachel Briggs OBE, will be published by The Clarity Factory in October 2023. To receive the report, subscribe to The Clarity Factory newsletter.