Anyone who has read my articles knows that I base most of them on questions or inquiries from those professionals who either offer good and accurate advice or from those who ask for it.
First, I prefer placing female CPO’s with female clients or their children for the client’s comfort or peace of mind. Some males are easily suited to this task but the client may simply think that a male does not belong in constant close proximity and occasionally in isolated private settings with the kids or a client’s wife. This can be equally true with female CPO’s and male clients but the concern of inappropriate behavior with the children dissolves when a female is placed with them. Remember, it’s always up to the client.
The most active topics to come through my office are all related to females in the Executive Protection industry. As a female CPO and as a business owner and as the founder of a successful training academy exclusive to females in the Personal Protection Industry, I will address a few of the more popular statements I am routinely tasked with arguing against.
“A female CPO is better than a male CPO”
Your gender doesn’t make you better in this profession. What allows you to outperform a colleague or be more suited to a specific task is how well you meet or can adapt to a client’s specific need. In our case, the security needs that a client may have might be provided by a female, male, canine or even a machine.
“It is very hard for a woman to break into this industry”
Well it is also difficult for a male to break into this industry. Training, experience, personality, knowledge of how to dress, how to drive and a really well polished CV mean nothing if you believe that you have some preordained right to be here. Both women and men alike will be passed over equally if they lack humility, charm, manners, couth, education, social polish or real world experience. Which of these is most important?
“It is hard to find a job”
Keep in mind that the market for female CPO’s has historically been smaller which means you have to compete harder to get the job.
It is worth mentioning that in cases where security is needed for females and kids, many clients are looking for not just female CPOs but feminine looking females to place next to their wife, sister or daughter so if you are a female with a very harsh or more masculine appearance, you reduce your chances of being hired. And if a male appears too feminine or too “cute” or even too “handsome” he may not be hired either. You see, it is not your gender, it is the appearance you choose to reflect to your client, and it is your client’s perception you must cater to in order to get hired.
Additionally, my records show that a majority of females who want to break into the industry seem to be older than 40 years of age. It seems that many women who are retired Law Enforcement or military are looking to get into the private security industry. The fact is that unless you are applying for a Nanny position, most clients are looking for 25 to 35-year-old CPO’s with at least 5 years of experience. So at 38 to 40 with no experience, men and women alike stand less of a chance against a younger experienced CPO.
Finally, among those women who complain that they can’t find a job, a vast majority of them do not have what it takes to be hired. Having a large database of female candidates and qualified operatives allows me to compare them to each-other. Here is what I found out of 400 applications:
Some don’t have a passport. Some don’t have a local State license and can’t drive. Some have no firearms license or experience with anything mechanical.
Some are waiting to apply for licenses as they are interviewed and being hired by a client or a company.
Understand that if you don’t have the licenses or other qualifications, you will never be considered for a position, so act in advance. And if you make a misstatement of facts to get hired, you will get fired and never hired again.
Many female candidates are not willing to relocate due to being married with kids. Although a male CPO can leave his wife and kids behind, it is traditionally harder and less socially acceptable for a female CPO to do so. Many women in the U.S. left to fight in the Gulf War in 2002. The practice of the Father staying behind became acceptable there and the trend quickly spread to other countries.
Some women practice the outward arrogance associated with a man’s success when they have a couple of good assignments and don’t recognize when this attitude is rejected by the client or colleagues. This is a problem with the men too so again, no difference.
The result is, if you rub the placement company or client the wrong way, your CV goes in the trash. Turn down too many offers due to money or other issues and we will stop calling. If you don’t have a verifiable track record and reputation, you cannot make demands. Fail to answer when we call with an offer, we will not call back……ever.
“Female CPO’s are paid less”
From my experience both personally being an operative and placing females with other companies or clients I highly disagree with this. I have always been paid the same as the rest of the team and even more than the rest of the team when my performance or qualifications were measured against theirs.
In closing, we need to clarify and understand four things:
1) If you are making less than your colleagues, male or female, remember that you agreed to the terms of your employment. It was your choice.
2) If you don’t know how to ‘’sell’’ your skillset then you have missed something in your professional training. Go back to the basics and learn how to respond to a contract offer.
3) If you are a beginner, you may have to agree to a lower rate in order to build up your experience and work portfolio. If you do your job, you will progress.
4) Because of the nature of the services needed, some team members may work less hours than the rest of the team, therefore they may be paid less. If you are a female working with the kids for 6 hours a day, you cannot compare your position with a CPO that works for 10 hours driving the car or standing next to the client. If you are doing equal work on equal ground, you should argue for equal pay and equal treatment. If you don’t like the terms, don’t take the job. If you find out after you accept a position that you are paid less, chalk it up to a lesson learned and don’t make the mistake next time.
The demand for female CPO’s has increased steadily over the last decade. If you are not working or not earning what you think you are worth, ask yourself the following:
-What kind of experience do I have?
-What education do I have?
-Does my personality, loyalty, integrity, knowledge, skill and ability add to the client’s needs or solutions?
-How does my CV measure up against the other candidates interviewing for a position?
If you need a professional assessment of your CV or even your image or need to add to your skillset, go to our website. There is guidance there to help you.
You are equal in your ability to protect a person from the threat of another but the opportunity to perform will be based on a human being assessing your value to the effort. What are you doing to increase your value to the person that needs what you offer?
Founder & CEO
Athena Worldwide LLC
In a recent CPO class I was teaching, a student asked me what I would suggest as further training to add to his skillset. The first thing that came to mind was First Aid and a defensive driving class. He said he hadn’t thought about those so I took the opportunity to ask him what other training he was thinking of. The answers I got were a Tactical Shotgun and Rifle class and a weapons disarming class.
Now before I continue, understand this was a student who was just entering the close protection industry, with no prior training or work experience in the field.
Having been in the industry for a long time, I realize that continuing education is critical to any professional’s success. I simply believe that as we live we learn and in this industry we have to be better prepared and educated than the bad guys or even our ‘’competitors’’. Before you spend money on your next course, ask yourself a couple of questions:
- What position are you currently holding?
Are you a new CPO? Even if you are making a transition from LE or military to private sector security, you may be over trained and under experienced. This makes you new. If you are a new CPO, you will not gain any credibility for having advanced skillsets if you don’t know the basics. How to speak, dress, manners, social etiquette, First Aid…
- How do you see yourself in 5 or 10 years?
How far do you want to go in this industry? How do you envision your career? What do you want to achieve?
There are people who are satisfied working in lower “Operator” CP positions due to their family status or just because they are comfortable with it.
If you are a security guard seeking advancement or interested in working in the United States as an armed Security Officer, your primary weapon would be the Semi-Automatic Handgun, so why would you need carbine rifle tactical training? Since your primary focus is to remove your client from the hostile environment, how would you use a two-handed weapon when one is needed to guide your client? Why would you attempt to master the “tactical rifle” if you don’t know basic and advanced First Aid or even how to tie a necktie?
- How much money and time are you willing to spend for additional training?
Training in our industry costs a small fortune. Add to the course the time off of work, accommodations, meals and travel to a training site and your cost could exceed $8000.00 dollars U.S. for a week-long course.
There are many training courses available. A training provider/company is a business, not a charity so they want your money. Many of them will use unethical practices in order to sell you their courses so be extremely careful and vet the provider before sending them your money. Especially if you are a U.S. Veteran using your GI Bill.
I have seen courses offered to CPOs such as horseback riding, helicopter rappelling training, commando survival techniques and subterranean exploration, (Cave crawling). Now even if those classes sound cool you have to ask yourself if they are within your professional range of use.
If you want to break into CP industry then start with a nice CP course, get your basics and start building from there. Attend a Basic First Aid and work towards advanced First Aid classes and even Combat Lifesaver. A Security Driving Course would also be valuable. Any Threat Management class, Computer Forensics, and yes, even Photography. Think about your imaginary “perfect client” and educate yourself toward being the perfect CPO for them. What do you think that client needs you to know? Driving in Germany is not like driving in Iraq or the U.S. And driving in New York is not like driving in Dallas, Texas but First aid or the ability to communicate or knowledge of how to dress to your client’s needs are universal.
Prioritize your training on the needs of your assignment and your career path. Remember that there are over 3300 security specialties. To be a specialist, you need to master only one. A PSD Personnel Security Detail “Operator” can but does not have to be a socially refined individual and a CPO can but does not need the advanced physical skillsets of a soldier. If you are in a combat or warzone, operate as a PSD Operator, in all other cases operate like a CPO. Know the difference and train to your interest.
Some of the training providers that Athena Academy endorses are:
In the U.S.
Vehicle Dynamics Institute, http://www.vehicledynamics.com/
White Star Consulting, http://www.whitestaroftexas.com/
Global Options & Solutions, http://gos911.com/
Independent Security Advisors, http://www.dignitaryprotection.us/
VIP Protection Group, http://vipprotection.gr
ANG Protection, http://www.angprotection.co.uk/
Odyssey Security, http://www.odyssey-security.com/
Cyrus Strategies & Tactics, http://www.cyrusstrategiesandtactics.com/
Founder & CEO
Athena Worldwide LLC