Should sensitivity training be required for today’s security professionals? On many occasions, security professionals work with the widest cross section of humanity, ranging from people who have mental health issues or drug and alcohol addictions to people who have physical disabilities. The challenge for security professionals includes an understanding and sensitivity to the cultural differences that are woven into our pluralistic, multicultural society.

Security professionals need to have an understanding of the types of prejudice that may exist due to people’s different ethnic background, religion, gender, sexual orientation and physical and mental disabilities. When undergoing sensitivity training, security professionals need to be aware of their own biases in order to prevent them from affecting the way they interact with the public. Training helps them understand the ways that misinterpretation and miscommunications can take place between people with divergent backgrounds.

A well-trained security professional deals effectively with all community members and works with them to create a safe and orderly society. In addition to providing protection, today’s security professionals are expected to wear many hats ranging from acting as a helpful guide to assisting people in need. These hard-working, highly trained men and women are our country’s first responders who have a wide range of skills – from the sensitivity to deal with lost children to the ability to respond to and effectively address criminal activity. Security professionals are sometimes put in high-risk situations as they confront and detain criminals engaged in theft, trespassing, gang activity and every other manner of unlawful behavior that may occur.

With all their responsibilities, the 21st century security professional is also expected to act in a way that’s completely professional, following procedures, even in the face of danger and unforeseen situations. Sensitivity training adds the right mix of tools into the security professionals’ toolbox empowering them with knowledge and confidence.

What are the benefits of security professionals who participate in sensitivity training?

Enhanced Interpersonal Skills - Sensitivity training teaches security professionals to be more mindful of what they’re saying and to understand what words or actions may offend people. The interpersonal skills developed translate to increased sensitivity/empathy to others (e.g. different cultures, persons with disabilities, human rights issues, mental health issues) and the ability to establish a rapport with a variety of people for the purpose of building trusting relationships.

Stronger Community Ties - A security professional who demonstrates sensitivity to all people will develop stronger ties with the community they serve. More confidence from the community translates to a higher level of respect which empowers the security professional to carry out their duties more effectively.  

Handling the Unexpected Seamlessly– Security professionals who undergo sensitivity training are able to handle unexpected issues in a more effective way.  By understanding the importance of equality and fairness, they are better able to mitigate instances of sexual harassment and racial discrimination. The skills they learn will help them diffuse, avoid and manage difficult interpersonal relationships and navigate potential conflict.

Mastering Conflict Resolution – One of the most important challenges facing security professionals is dealing with aggressive behavior.  Ensuring that bias is out of the equation when working toward conflict resolution is key.

For example, a person’s upbringing can sometimes cause problems with regard to the boundaries of their personal space.People raised in cities have smaller personal zones than people from rural communities as living in a crowded environment generally conditions a person to accept close quarters.  Since it is not possible for a security professional to know a person’s history when they meet them, it is best for them to always give people space.

Building a Culture of Sensitivity

Whatever format the sensitivity training is conducted, whether it is web- or classroom-based, it is important that everyone in the organization, including management and administrative staff, is appropriately trained.  How leaders handle expressions of racism or religious bias in the workplace is critical in establishing an example of the appropriate way to behave for all security professionals. To foster an environment of mutual respect, security professionals need a framework that defines what is right and what is wrong, which establishes a set of explicit rules for acceptable employee conduct and sets a strong tone that allows people to operate mindfully.