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Security LeadHER 2023: Working towards a more diverse Security Industry

September 28, 2023

LeadHer, diversity in the security industry

In industries as security and technology, roles held by women are far from the norm. While the dial has moved over recent years, we are still a long way from the sort of representation seen in other industries. Axis has always looked to lead by example in working towards more a diverse workplace and industry.

This summer, Axis sponsored the first ever Security LeadHER conference, an event held in collaboration between the Women in Security Forum of the Security Industry Association (SIA) and the American Society for Industrial Security (ASIS). Sponsoring events like this is just one way in which Axis and other organizations are looking to build and drive industry-wide change. We recently spoke with Elaine Palome, Director of Human Resources for Axis Americas and co-chair of the Security LeadHER conference about the event that took place this summer.

“It was really refreshing and powerful to see so many women in our industry involved in supporting, engaging, and learning from each other”

Elaine Palome, Director of Human Recources Americas

Elaine says “We wanted to bring together a cadre of strong women from across our industry, and provide a place and an opportunity to educate, enlighten, network and to drive change. It was really refreshing and powerful to see so many women in our industry involved in supporting, engaging, and learning from each other.”

The purpose of the conference was to provide women in the industry two opportunities: to gain new skills and knowledge to become better leaders, and to stay ahead of trends and topics within the security and technology sectors. This informed the two tracks: Leadership and Technology. The leadership track focused on topics such as “The Art of Saying No”, “Overcoming Perfectionism”, and “Leading by Influence” and the technology track looked at ‘How to protect your data in the Cloud’ and ‘Developments in AI’ with attendees choosing between discussions on either track.

Before the conference began there were opportunities for attendees to meet, network, and take part in a variety of activities.

“We had a goal for this conference to be something that was more than just a business-focused event. The day before the conference, we offered a self-defense class and tours of the Ryman Auditorium (former home of the Grand Ole Opry) and the National Museum of African American Music. In the evening, we met for drinks, appetizers, music and networking at Johnny Cash’s Bar and BBQ.  The morning of the conference, we offered a walk or run over the John Seigenthaler Pedestrian Bridge. We wanted to ensure there was something for everyone”.  Not only were these events fun, but they allowed for multiple opportunities to network. The event opened and closed with motivational keynote speakers, selected to offer new perspectives and unique experiences away from the offices and boardrooms with the aim of leaving a lasting impression on those who listened. 

It would not have been possible to put on such an important and ambitious event without generous sponsors. Axis was one of a number of organizations who acted as primary sponsors of Security LeadHER. Axis also worked closely with a local group, Halo Mission, who work with women in recovery, teaching them to craft and sell bracelets from recycled guitar strings. As a gift for their time in Music City, Axis purchased a bracelet for each of the 300 attendees. Other sponsors included well-known companies in our industry such as Apple, Intel, Wesco, and Securitas.

The success of the conference is undeniable and with strong interest and desire for similar future events, Elaine is optimistic about the future, both about Security LeadHER and about the deeper issue of greater diversity across the industry.

“We have received such positive feedback from the inaugural event and are already planning the second LeadHer event for 2024. It is likely we will increase the attendance since we had to turn people away this year. I would love to see a diversity event where we host an even wider range of diverse people and where we’re not just talking about women’s leadership, but what it’s like to be black, autistic, or transgendered in the workplace, and providing the same tools, leadership coaching and networking for that population of people as well.”

Axis has long been focused on providing more opportunities for women to get into the organization and the wider industry, and while there has been a big shift in recent years, as Elaine explains “It takes a long time to move the needle, but we need to keep at it. That’s only in terms of attracting women. There is more work to do in making our workplace more inclusive for everyone.  Our employee pool should look the same as the society we’re gathering them from. It’s the right thing to do for the business, but more importantly for society.”

Read our 2022 Sustainability Report to learn more about how Axis works with diversity.