Axis Communications hosted a webinar September 21 focused on diversity, and how it can serve as a not-so-secret weapon for organizations.
Fredrik Nilsson, vice president of the Americas for Axis, kicked off the webinar with his own thoughts on diversity, and its importance in the security industry. After receiving the Lippert Award from the Security Industry Association (SIA) in 2016, he reflected on the fact that it was two women who really got him to that point in his career, bringing different perspectives and teachings.
“I was realizing there were so few women in the security industry, and I thought how much greater we could become if we were more diverse,” Nilsson said.
In 2018, Axis hosted its first Women in Security Summit at its Americas headquarters in Chelmsford, Massachusetts. In the three years since, Axis saw the number of women in its organization increase by 10 percent.
Nilsson believes the security industry as a whole saw a similar increase in diversity recently. “I truly believe that the industry has become better — ethics is on the agenda, and I think we’ve become more innovative and collaborative,” Nilsson added. “This isn’t all because of diversity, but it certainly had an impact.”
Addressing the question of why Axis is hosting this webinar now, Nilsson cited a few facts:
- Ethnic and culturally diverse companies in the top quartile outperformed those in the fourth by 36 percent in terms of profitability.
- Diverse teams have a 22 percent lower turnover rate and have an easier time recruiting.
- 55 percent of people agree that their organization has policies that promote diversity and inclusion.
“It’s the right thing to do for the company, and it’s really overdue,” Nilsson said.
To help promote diversity and inclusion in the workplace, Nilsson pointed to five necessary steps that all businesses can take: listen and act; strengthen HR capabilities in all roles; engage senior leadership commitment; set goals and measure success; and create accountability for results.
Michelle Howard, a retired U.S. Navy admiral, then took center screen to share her own experiences as an African American woman in an industry that is dominated by white men. “Sometimes we have to have these tough dialogues to make people understand we may not look like you, but we’re competent,” Howard said.
When she first joined the Navy, only 5 percent of the service members were women, and even fewer were African American women. By the end of her time there, 20 percent of the service members were women.
“We [at the Navy] value diversity because it’s important for a service to reflect the people that they are going to protect, and it’s through that diversity that we get strength,” Howard explained. “It’s also through diverse teams that you get great ideas and innovation, responsiveness to customers, and great team collaboration.”