- Posted by Chloe Crudden
- On March 13, 2018
- 0 Comments
- Blog, Blog Post, International Women's Day, Mercury Blog
In this Blog Post, our Regional Manager, Sharon Kirkpatrick discusses International Women’s Day and her experience working in the male dominated security sector.
Last Thursday, the 8th of March, marked International Women’s Day and I was delighted to have the opportunity to attend the Women’s Empowerment ‘Making It Happen’ breakfast hosted by Lisburn and Castlereagh City Council at Café Vic-Ryn. There were amazing speakers and the atmosphere achieved in a room of positive, ever reaching women was inspiring, uplifting and empowering in itself.
I must confess in my ignorance, I had never paid much attention to this landmark day. Although it quickly got me thinking about my own experiences in relation to my journey through the world of business and why I hadn’t thought about this before.
I have been working in a B2B environment for the last 10 years which happens to be almost a third of my lifetime… (I had to double check this fact; I guess time flies when you’re having fun). When I look back I had a couple of female managers, however, our directors and CEOs were ALL men.
For the last 9 years of my career I have worked within the male dominated security sector. To put weight behind this, according to the Women’s Security Society, ‘Women make up only 10% of the security workforce’. This statistic actually reminds me of an event I attended a few years back where the queue for the men’s toilets was out the door. In contrast to this, as I walked into the female toilets I quickly realised I was the only female there. I remember thinking at the time, “Am I on the wrong path? Why am I here?”
Being a woman who left education and went straight into work, I relied heavily on experience. To gain experience, yes, I had to work hard but I also needed leaders who respected me, instilled confidence that allow me to develop and were empathetic towards my goals. I started as an admin assistant back in 2009 and got my first taste of empowerment from my then male Manager who said to me, ‘We’re a small company and you’re doing great things. I know that one day we are going to lose you as we can’t offer the same development opportunities that the bigger companies can’. At that moment I was flattered. However, on reflection this comment offered the most amazing push up the ladder of my career…
I then found myself in a new role that provided additional responsibilities and greater progression routes. I was ecstatic and motivated; putting my all into the new role. Within 3 years the CEO approached me with the view of enhancing my skills further and offered me a secondment introducing a new department within the business. Another push up the ladder…
With the same company came another promotional offer; the ability to manage a whole region for our new and existing customers. At the time I was excited but very overwhelmed. However, again the support came from my male Sales Director, who told me, ‘You can do this! You don’t know how good you are and we will support you’. Push up the ladder we go…
2018 saw me start as the Regional Manager for one of the largest independent security companies in the UK and Ireland, Mercury Security Management. Mercury is a family owned business with the Directors all being male and I have to say, I wouldn’t change a thing. Being a family business they understand that encouragement, praise and creating opportunities for employees increases productivity and improves loyalty. Every day I receive at least one piece of praise for the work I am doing.
In answer to my younger self, ‘Yes! You are on the right path. You know this because you have achieved so much and to achieve you must love what you do. You are surrounded by positive, motivated people and this can only lead to further pushes up the ladder’.
Carmel McKinney, one of the speakers at the ‘Making It Happen’ event, the first ever female Chairwoman of the NIFRS said, ‘that by introducing more women into leadership we create diversity of thought, creating diversity of thought leads to better problem solving and greater business benefits’
With this in mind, let’s encourage more women to come to the security sector. Who knows what great things can come from the increase of that 10%!
You might be thinking, Sharon, this is a blog post about International Women’s Day and you’ve spent the entire post talking about how men have empowered you… well, there are two reasons for this:
- Equality: There are men out there who not only see but believe in the power of women in the workplace and I would like to thank them for staying ahead; not conforming and breaking the mould. It benefits everyone!
- Secret Weapon: In almost all of the roles that I talked about above, yes, it was the men making the final decisions. However, it was the women working in the background who really kept the companies running smoothly, created the brand and built the customer relationships to levels that couldn’t be broken
Whatever their role, women include a level of feeling towards the job they are doing and it becomes a personal journey. We often have to fight for the right to be seen, heard or hired which creates a determination that will bring great success to any business.
So here’s to International Women’s Day. Let’s face it… it should be every day!