Imagine that you have just been selected for your dream job as the new Chief Security Officer at a major multinational corporation. It’s a new role and their board is looking to you to hire the best and the brightest for your new team. Would you hire:

  • A VP, Global Security who embezzled money to support an aviation hobby and an affair with a security team member?
  • A Director, Corporate Security who both solicited and engaged in kickback schemes from surveillance contractors by falsifying time records?
  • A Head, Regional Security who falsified his resume, claiming elite military experience then threatened to have other security management team members killed?
  • A VP, Global Security who hosted expensive evenings at adult entertainment venues and directed his deputies to pay so he could then approve the travel and expense reports?
  • A Security Manager who was terminated for continued sexual harassment issues?
  • A Division Head, Security terminated for T&E fraud and conflicts of interested involving a temporary hire?
  • A Director, Security who was terminated after surveillance cameras documented him having sex on the CEO’s desk with another employee?
  • A Manager, Security who was terminated for continuing to violate company financial controls polices after being warned?
  • A Vice President, Global Security whose employment offer was withdrawn when the hiring company read in the press that he was recently terminated for fraud while leading another security organization?

Of course, you would never knowingly hire individuals whose backgrounds included such behavior. However, 25 years of specialization in the field of security recruitment means I have listened to many stories from hiring managers who either employed or inherited the people such as those described in the above – true – examples. 

Of the ones mentioned, only two of the organizations that employed these individuals worked with law enforcement toward prosecution. The others were able to continue their careers leading programs in other organizations when the issues were swept under the rug by embarrassed former employers. 

Many of you know from your own experience that organizations often allow employees who exhibit serious ethical or even criminal behavior to be quietly terminated or allowed to quit. While this is a small number of the workforce overall, it is clear the security community is not immune from participation in that percentage. 

Hiring environments have changed, and today’s security executives consistently place ethics, values and integrity at the top of their critical must-have hiring competencies list. This is not a surprise when you consider the nature of work that makes up the background of many in the profession coupled with the credibility imperative of an organization’s security program.

These attributes are also in step with the current business climate of transparent accountability. Organizations want to employ people whose experience and approach are aligned with their branding message and sterling reputation. Similarly, hiring managers want to engage employees whose behavioral tendencies allow them to achieve goals and reflect well on the team. 

Therefore, what steps can you take to ensure you hire security professionals whose behavior and integrity will reflect well both on yourself, and your organization? You can start by doing the following:

  • Check for inconsistencies in employment credentials. We often see discrepancies between candidate resumes, LinkedIn profiles and applications they complete on employer sites. 
  • Utilize your in-house human resources and legal teams to assist your pre-employment vetting efforts and keep you on the correct side of sometimes quickly changing employment laws.
  • Request a substantial number of references from potential candidates and include those both business and personal. Thoroughly check them, keeping any state- or country-specific privacy regulations in mind.
  • Consider using a specialist recruitment firm with depth of experience in the security field. Check their references just as thoroughly as you would a potential candidate’s, as one of the examples in the preceding list was placed by a supposed specialist firm (not mine!).

Ethics, integrity and reputation are the hallmarks of businesses that resonate with today’s customers. The candidates you hire to run the programs responsible for security and risk oversight should be exemplary. Ensure you hire people who reflect your best team.