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Building a Secure Corporate Culture from the Top Down

Management buy-in is critical for a safe work environment

Posted by Dawn Lomer on September 26th, 2013

A safe workplace shouldn’t be a luxury. But the last few years have seen not only violent acts taking place at work, but devastating loss of life associated with those acts. Workplace violence has moved past the lunchroom brawl, and into the realm of mass-murder.

The workplace shootings that have occurred over the past few years have highlighted more than ever before the fact that there’s still a lot of work to be done to ensure workers are safe from violence. Every company needs policies, training, follow-up and security incident management procedures to ensure every employee does his or her part in keeping everyone in the company safe. But as with any important company initiative, it all starts from the top.

Change From the Top

Leadership plays a critical role in achieving a successful security culture, and one of the best places to start is with training. Mandatory security training should include the executive team. Security training should also be part of new employee orientation programs, with annual follow-up on each person’s performance appraisal. Including security in performance appraisals sends the message that it’s important all the way to the top level of the company.

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Setting an example by firing employees who refuse to comply with security policies is a very effective way to get the message out. Document and share the importance of security as a basic pre-requisite for employees keeping their jobs.

This may seem harsh, but if you have an employee who repeatedly fails to comply with security policies, he or she is putting the company at risk. If you let that employee get away with it, other employees won’t take security seriously and it will be impossible to develop a strong security culture.

Talk About It

As with any cultural shift, constant reminders will keep company executives and managers on track, reinforcing the change. If there’s a security breach or a workplace incident, share it with the management team to help them see the importance of prevention.

Security awareness at the leadership level creates champions for change. It also makes employees more comfortable about coming forward if they see or hear something that has the potential to become a security incident.

Employees should have mechanisms for reporting anything they think could be a security issue, without fear of reprisal. Whether it’s an anonymous hotline, an email address for concerns or another system, making it easy and safe for employees to come forward will provide a chance to intervene before a problem employee becomes a security risk.

Walk Around

Top-down change requires awareness, and managers and executives who are far removed from what actually goes on in the company will be caught by surprise when a crisis happens. Get to know your employees and you’ll be in a better position to avert a crisis.

The same goes for incident tracking. If company management makes the effort to track and report on security incidents, it’s possible to study trends, evaluate risks based on the incidents reported, and put prevention programs into place.


Dawn Lomer
Dawn Lomer

Manager of Communications

Dawn Lomer is the Manager of Communications at i-Sight Software and a Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE). She writes about topics related to workplace investigations, ethics and compliance, data security and e-discovery, and hosts i-Sight webinars.

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