Have you ever wondered how companies prevent or respond to issues that could result in injured or killed employees, damaged or lost assets, lawsuits, regulatory fines, or loss of important corporate information? The majority of the Fortune 500 companies have experienced these types of incidents and many have established a corporate security department to minimize the impact and losses from these kinds of issues.

A changing landscape

Business activities that managers have overseen for years have recently become more complex and potentially damaging. Corporate travel to foreign countries, with its share of pitfalls, is becoming more common in the global economy. As technology develops, keeping others from stealing new innovations, secrets to operating success or even customer lists becomes more of a challenge. Government regulations and requirements have also become more widespread and severe.

Depending on the company size and industry, corporate security can mean different things to different organizations. The Security Leadership Research Institute research has identified 20 different responsibilities that fall under a corporate security department.

Some companies have elevated the security manager position to the executive level by creating a chief security officer (CSO) position. While a typical Chief Security Officer position does not exist in corporate America, there are areas of security that different CSOs at different companies will be responsible for depending on the industry or sector and its risks.

“It will be increasingly important to develop security leadership that’s a good fit for current expectations but also has a vision of what could be.”

Collaborating for success

It is essential that the CSO works closely with other C-suite level functions and leaders, such as HR, legal, IT, finance and individual business units. This has recently become more critical than ever to help effectively reduce security risks to the organization.

The foundational elements of a corporate security program have been listed and defined by industry leaders in “The Manager’s Handbook for Business Security.” This excellent resource was created at the urging of the federal government to provide a resource to help businesses combat the types of losses or damages discussed previously.  This includes 15 crucial elements developed and agreed upon by numerous Fortune 500 CSOs, including organizational models, supply chain security, and ethics guidelines.

Moving forward

There are some additional key elements in corporate security success that need to be taken into consideration and managed when implementing or upgrading a program.

Corporate level organizational readiness for security — the company’s view of what security means to them and its purpose in light of business goals — will be crucial. It will be increasingly important to develop security leadership that’s a good fit for current expectations but also has a vision of what could be.

Tracking your security department maturity status is vital to understanding how far you have to go. Understanding your corporate culture will help tailor security strategies to a preexisting framework. Finally, a deep and nuanced understanding of regulatory requirements will keep your business safe from fines and penalties.

Once a corporate security function is in place, the real work begins in identifying vendors and service providers, managing the various information based on risks and recruiting experienced and talented people. Finally, the best security departments work with executive management to add more value to the business. They enable the business to operate where and how they need to and provide employees a resource for their safety and security concerns.