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
Over the last 10 years, I have written a few hundred articles and granted interviews related to protective work within our industry. I have almost always addressed topics of interest from the perspective of a Close Protection Operative or directed advice or opinions toward the CPO.
As threats change with the times, the topics of discussion must change and occasionally we have to address an old topic from a fresh perspective. This article is directed to the security company Owner or Manager and addresses a more mundane yet equally important topic: INTEGRITY.
What many company owners and managers will tell you they are looking for when hiring someone to work for them (and represent their companies), is loyalty, dedication, hard-working, punctual, positive attitude, team player, ethical, honest, law abiding, professional. It shouldn’t be surprising but many employees are looking for the same qualities in a company’s top leaders.
Most of us as Managers, CEO’s, CFO’s, COO’s, or other Owners fail to remember that when our company is awarded a contract and we hire people to work for us, our organization’s integrity is judged by, and dependent upon our employees. So as important as they are to us, why did they suddenly resign?
Most successful protection organizations are managed by company Owners, Managers or CEOs who have been operatives at some point in their careers, so it should be hard to understand how they would neglect their employees, but it does happen all the times, and I do understand.
Below I will try to point out some issues that allow for a toxic work environment for both employers and employees which lead to turn over and poor loyalty.
Each company has its own vision and goal. The question is: are you as the creator or guardian of that vision as loyal to it today as you were on day one? Are you loyal to the people who work for you, to what your company represents, to the profession? Or are you ‘’bending’’ your own work ethic or clouding your company’s vision for that monthly check? Great operatives sometimes work for organizations that have cut corners, lagged behind in paying their employees, failed to support their employees, siding instead with the client, and forcing employees to quit before it was time to give them a raise. If you think that your employees won’t quit and inform everyone they know (including your competitors), about your conduct, you are wrong.
Are you on time with your responsibilities toward the people that work for you? Are they getting paid for their working hours/days expenses and benefits on time? “I HAVEN’T BEEN PAID BY THE CLIENT YET” is not an excuse for not paying your operatives on time. Operating a business and hiring people means you have a specific amount of capitol you must set aside to insure payroll. Failing to achieve payroll independence probably means you are mismanaging your profits and maybe your company. Do you return phone calls promptly? Do you promise performance raises at 6 months of employment and then wait for the employee to beg you for it at 7 months?
Are you honest regarding employment contracts? There are companies who practice “Shadow Contracting”, which uses two sets of terms: one for the clients and one for the operatives. The difference between the two are the services promised to the client within the terms of service and what the operative believes they are signing up for in pay, working conditions, risk and support. In most cases, the client is unaware of this.
Additionally, when you hire a CPO, you informed them about the initial threat assessment, so until they get their foot in the door and deal in real time with the client and his environment and do their own assessment they have to rely on what you know. As we know, in our line of work, the threat level is, in part, what sets the cost for our services. Some organizations will not inform an operative of the real threat level in order to pay the operative less.
Are you a law abiding professional? Unfortunately we have seen people with criminal records running security businesses or Managers who don’t mind hiring employees who have prior problems with the law or regulatory authorities, who add them to their company administration or to their CP teams.
These decisions initially affect the CP effort but quickly destroy the trust and loyalty in the organization as a whole and eventually the Client relationship.
Are you a team player? I have heard the phrase “I want you to see our company as your family”, many times. This is a hollow statement because:
- They already have a family.
- They are usually under a contract with a time limit
- They will never feel like family when your family and friends are in all of the key positions or in charge of the operations.
As a business owner, manager or CEO you have to think ahead and take care of your people. Some contracts require assignments in distant cities or other countries. Those people, who work for you, protect your client and basically make money for you and are away from their homes and families, possibly in a different culture, unfriendly country or in a domestic environment which tests their patience, fidelity, fitness and temperament. Are you focusing on what the CP needs to succeed 20 or 30 or 60 or 90 days into their assignment? Are you watching for complacency and prepared to replace or rotate your CPO’s if complacency or boredom becomes apparent? Did you remember to add this possibility in the client’s contract and explain that the CPO the client starts with may not be the one they end up with?
Do you regularly check to insure that your CPO’s do not exceed 10 hours a day in service and that they receive proper time for rest or rehabilitation or training or fitness? Did you put these terms into the contract? Did you secure a retainer?
Recently, I was made aware of a female CPO that took an assignment in a country she had not worked in before. She took the assignment with a signed contract which she was awarded because of her experience working with and protecting children. She was promised a weekly bi-weekly paycheck, time off, 10 hour days, clothing, food, lodging, travel and other allowance “reimbursements” and was furnished equipment. Within 30 days, she was behind 2 paychecks, out of personal money due to not being reimbursed, was working 18 hours a day, was being berated daily by the client’s wife, not allowed to discipline or correct a spoiled child and was not accustomed to the local exotic diet which was her only source of food, resulting in her being sick and under nourished much of the time she was in the country. Additionally, she was not able to leave once she decided to do so and had to work an additional 4 months before finally being paid an adequate amount of money to allow her to “escape”. She has not yet been paid the balance of what is owed her and has no legal means of demanding or recovering her earnings. The company is still in business and continues its practices. It has no loyalty and the internet is now peppered with negative comments about it.
If you see fallacies in your corporate hiring and management practices or are experiencing a high turnover in CPO’s or your management staff, spend some money on a private consultant. They can evaluate your practices for far less than what you are losing in lost contracts and overtime or training costs due to employee turn-over. Having the right people working for your company and stay with you for a long time is the best investment you can do.
End f the day, while you are running your own security firm take some time to remember where you came from and guard your reputation within the industry.
Personal Protection has always been viewed as a physical or tangible thing that could be measured by effort and labor put into creating and maintaining a program. Since the Internet first allowed for the publishing and dispersal of personal information, the public has obliged the technology by accessing and downloading billions of terabytes of information containing personal sensitive information.
If you find it necessary to carry a firearm and build a protection team around your client you should give the same attention to simple ways of educating your client and his/her close family and working circle regarding simple security awareness tips.
We are not suggesting you have to train them as security professionals but just giving them the basic education and information regarding security and safety awareness could make it easier to protect them.
The reason I wrote this article today was because of something that came to my attention while I was surfing online.
I came across an article regarding a 17 year old boy based somewhere in America who has became a ‘’living legend’’ in social medias because of his provocative pictures and comments on on-line networking sites, where he poses with golden pens, packs of $10.000 bills etc. Doing a little research on his profile and crossing information here and there, I discovered that the kid is from a very wealthy family. What made me think seriously about this kid was how something like this could expose him and his family to the wrong attention.
It took me around 25 min to locate this kid and get good information regarding his identity and location so I wanted to test to see how much it would take for someone not in the security industry to find him using information found online. It took less than 2 hours for a 22 year old who has nothing to do with security to gather good Intel on this kid, using the pictures and information he had posted on his networking sites.
With all the information provided online It doesn’t take an expert or even a person related to the security industry to be able to find out about someone.
We have all seen examples like this one from other celebrity kids, or from the children of very affluent CEO’s or Politicians who have fallen into the trap of social media posting including pornography. What these kids and even their parents don’t consider is that the sophistication of the criminal has developed with the technology of the internet itself. A simple photo of a person by a tree could lead to the identification of the person’s address because of the shape or species of the tree or maybe because of the license plate of a car parked in a driveway across the street, visible in the corner of the photo.
So the question is: “Are you aware of your exposure through the information posted on yours or your children’s networking sites?”
Now I will ask the same question to all Security Professionals. Not only do you need to consider your client’s exposure but have you considered your own? As ridiculous as it seems, there are actually “Body Guard” companies that publish photos of their clients and even their agents on their company websites. And more ridiculous is the client’s agreeing to it.
Have you taken the time to sit down with your client and explain what he/she can do to avoid not being exposed? We are aware that not all clients will sit down and listen to your professional suggestions regarding their safety however they hired you because you have an experience and expertise on a specific matter, ‘’SAFETY’’, and you are there not only to provide a body but also provide consultation and suggestions that are addressed to lower the threat level.
Nobody wants to live in fear, and for sure no one will feel comfortable with the idea of his/her children being in danger, so address your professional concerns regarding safety to your clients. Be polite, be logical, avoid difficult professional terms and explain to them in simple words why a specific habit that they find harmless can be very dangerous for them. Not all will listen and practice what you suggest, but even if 1 out of 10 clients do as you suggested it will be a progress. Of course there will always be information leaked intentionally or unintentionally that will give away information. The goal is to reduce the negative effects of the practice thus making your job easier.
Founder & Worldwide Director
The first thing that comes to mind when people hear ‘’Personal Safety’’ is martial arts or firearms training. Being in the security industry the last 11 years I had the chance to attend many training courses. Continuing education is my first priority and I attend as many seminars and courses as possible each year. In all of them, the conclusion I reached is that preparation and prevention can be your number one tip for your safety whether you are a civilian or a security professional.
An experience I encountered at the age of 16 changed my life priorities and choices at that time. What I am today is the result of an attack I survived then that left me bleeding and half dead in an alley. I didn’t think that the attacker would “allow” me to live. I didn’t think I would live to see my family again. That “man” was the reason I got involved in the security industry and later into martial arts training.
In this article I would like to focus more on female self-defense courses and what can work for us and what won’t.
To clarify my comments here, I am not writing this article from a martial artist or an instructor’s point of view, but from the female perspective interested in learning some basic tips on how to protect her life.
My personal experience with martial arts began as a teenager and continues to this day but the bottom line is I’m expressing here my opinion as a woman, a student and a former attack victim, and I’m pretty sure some martial arts instructors won’t agree with it. My goal here is not to offend anyone’s work but to address some concerns from the female perspective.
During an attack there are many factors that affect all of us at the same time. There is surprise, physical pain, adrenaline and that horrible thought and feeling that someone else besides you can decide if you will be breathing the next couple of minutes or not…Your nervous system is red-lined. You experience a faster heart rate and rapid breathing and an increase in blood pressure. An effort from your body to control and adjust to the experience of the fear during the attack is in full defense mode. Some people might notice sensations in the stomach, head, chest, legs, or hands. Now multiply those physical responses with factors from the threat you are dealing with. Maybe a gun or knife or a much larger person or multiple attackers.
No matter how good a martial artist or instructor you are (no matter how many times you have practiced your art), there is nothing that can compare with dealing with a real life threat. Nothing can replace the experience and test you and your abilities more than an actual attack.
We know that in some cases women are stronger than men. Yes, there are examples of men being weaker, but generally speaking let’s agree that for discussion, men are stronger. The aim then is to help women think differently and a bit more strategically. We don’t have to learn to beat someone down, we have to learn where we should be, or what we should do so we don’t end up in a situation where violence is likely to occur. We have to learn to speak up when we are not comfortable –being vocal will Alarm a perpetrator as well as bystanders. No one wants to attack someone that will fight back or someone that will make a lot of noise or attract attention. As with all predators, attackers prefer to go after the weak, sick and vulnerable. It’s a simple “Cost vs. Gain equation.
We should not accept our environment as it is, rather, we should shape it and learn where we should and should not be. We can influence a potential attack simply through posture and by thinking ahead. Begin with “I won’t be a victim,” and then don’t allow it to happen. I would also suggest you consider what kind of environment you wish to be in and avoid those you know to be questionable. We can prevent danger and create a safer place for ourselves and our loved ones simply by being smarter and more prepared than a potential attacker.
No one can offer you a 100% safe environment, someone can attack you because the opportunity to do it exists. By being trained and self-aware, you prevent or postpone an attack. According to statistics more than 2/3 of the attacks against women could be prevented if they were trained in simple and basic self-defense.
Women, are known to have strong intuition, something that alerts us or makes us feel that there is something wrong with a person or situation. Use it! Think in advance what actions you could take that would provide you more safety. While you are driving, shopping, at home, dating, clubbing etc.
Research online will find many self-defense courses available but, 99% of them are delivered by martial arts instructors with no other qualifications. Even fewer of those Instructors are women. From my personal experience attending many of those courses, I found that the students were treated, trained and handled like martial arts athletes or professionals, and the major effort of teaching was focused on the fight or fighting back instead of avoidance and predator profiling. So, from the first moment students get in the class they learn how to become the victim and get involved in an attack.
The truth is, Self Defense Instructors make their money teaching what they know, and what they don’t know, they leave to someone else. Most have no formal training in altercation avoidance or conflict resolution so they teach reactive methods rather than proactive planning.
Now, my questions are how a normal woman, a mother, someone who has never delivered a punch or a kick in her life can learn fighting techniques in one to six lessons?
And more important, how can she apply what she learned in the gym successfully on the street? How will she react to a real threat from an attacker who doesn’t look like or act like or smell like her Instructor? Who won’t stop short of hitting her in the face or grabbing her body or ripping her clothes?
I see Instructors teaching blocks, arm bars, headlocks etc….I am over 30,with experience in sports and martial arts and I still don’t have the flexibility to make a successful headlock with my legs, and I’m wondering how someone is teaching that and believing that a woman with no experience or practice will apply it in real life?
I have been asking instructors if those techniques work in real life and for some reason they all say yes.
These Instructors are missing some important facts:
- They are male
- They have been practicing for many years
- They teach in a safe environment usually chosen by the student
I find it more dangerous to teach someone something that she is not ready to apply in real life than not teaching it at all. Teaching and reinforcing a false sense of confidence could lead to catastrophic failure. Can you imagine what would happen if a victim kicked an attacker and because of her fear-adrenaline, she kicks wrong or hits the wrong target? If he stays on his feet, He will fight.
Even if the attacker didn’t originally have the intention to seriously injure the victim, he might lose his temper or use more force than intended.
Not all attackers retreat if you fight back, some of them will fight harder and stronger.
More serious are knife and gun disarming techniques…Learning to disarm a plastic knife and gun can be catastrophically worse if the instructor has never used a firearm for his living. I have seen everybody participating in knife disarming, smiling and taking their time, doing it again and again….I’m not so sure if they would deal with it the same way if they had a real knife to practice with.
As a female I tried to apply some of the techniques I learned to real life.
Not all of them worked for me and I belong to the women who have a previous training in martial arts and sports, so it makes me wonder how it would work for a Mother or Grandmother?
I do understand the ”business part” of someone running a training course, but our responsibility as instructors starts with a loyalty to the people who are paying us to learn something that will save their life?
There are a small percentage of people who know what they are teaching and are doing it right. They have a background from law enforcement, martial arts and the security industry. They have gathered their experience and teach realistic techniques. There are people out there, professionals that are focused on teaching intelligence based tactics… brain vs. Braun. As women we must learn to think and out-think We must search for Instructors that know how to teach us, and know what to teach us. And we must learn under stress. We must allow ourselves to be tested under extreme conditions and continue to train to not be victims.
Founder & Worldwide Director
We are addining another training course in our calendar for 2013 that will be hosted by White Star Services.
Some of the topics taught in Executive Protection Program are:
-Principles of Executive Protection.
-Code of Conduct.
-Solo Protector and in a Detail.
-Use of Force/ Combatives
-Surveillance and Counter-surveillance.
-Protective Intelligence and Advanced Operations
-Basic Pistol Training and Firearms Safety
-Event and Estate Security
-Dealing with Media and Paparazzi
-Behavioral Intelligence and Attack Recognition
-First Aid CPR/AED
Course fee $3000.00
“This course complies with the minimum requirements of the Texas Department of Public Safety Private Security Bureau to issue all three of the registrations needed to work in the State of Texas. The three registrations are: Unarmed Officer, Armed Officer and Personal Protection Officer (Bodyguard).”
***Athena Academy maintains the right to decline with no further explanation any training application.***
***Athena Academy maintains the right to change training topics, curriculum and instructors according to class needs until the first day of class.***
***The 8 day residency training is physically demanding therefore all participants will be required to send a letter from your physician indicating you are fit enough to participate before your registration in the course will be confirmed.***
***All participants must send us a criminal background showing a clean record.***
Application date open until May 1st, 2013
For more information contact visit http://www.athenaacademy.com