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Civil Wars Often Stand in the Way of Safe Workplaces

October 21, 2004
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Money isn’t the only thing standing in the way of improved security at American corporations. Clashes between company cultures within firms are equally at fault, according to The Conference Board.

There are often at least three different parts of an organization that have their hands in security issues: the physical security forces, the IT department and risk-management executives. They don’t always communicate well with each other, and have unequal degrees of authority within their companies, The Conference Board says.

In IT departments, privacy is often paramount. Physical security professionals often come from the military or law enforcement and value authority. Risk managers are sometimes most concerned about the bottom line.

Thomas Cavanagh is a senior research associate for The Conference Board, and has done extensive research on corporate security issues. He says that some of the best companies at handling corporate security are Morgan Stanley, Avaya, Marriott and El Al. Generally, says Cavanagh, the "best practices" firms centralize their security operations and also have senior leaders who are highly committed to ensuring the safety of employees, and communicating its importance.

Cavanagh says that executives in human resources have a part in corporate security that goes beyond their two traditional roles--managing the background-check process, and helping the company and its workforce cope with emergencies. Human resources professionals are also sometimes part of security committees within corporations. "Human resources by and large will not be taking the lead on those committees," Cavanagh says, "but should be aware of some of these (infighting) issues and play a facilitating role to the extent that that’s possible."

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