Satia Rai, Head of Belonging at Securitas, CEO for IPSA, and Intersec Awards Judge, shares her ED&I journey with Security Buyer Managing Editor Rebecca Spayne
Can we begin by giving a brief overview of who you are?
Rebecca, thank you for having me participate in this interview and giving me this platform. I’m the Head of Belonging for Securitas UK, and in my voluntary capacity I’m also CEO of the International Professional Security Association. Additionally, I’m a member of the Security Skills Board, Chair of the Security EDI Forum, a member of the International Security Expo Advisory Council, and a committee member of LGBT in Facilities Management.
You are a judge for the Intersec Awards, what are you most excited to see at the event?
I am excited to network on a global level. I never imagined that I would be in that type of space, meeting professionals from all over the world. I also can’t wait to be surrounded by people from all corners of the world, to be able to see how they innovate and engage with their customers and industry peers.
I am also part of the Women’s Panel discussion, which I’m incredibly excited about, to learn what works well for them, and what they have done and changed in that space. Equally, I am also looking forward to sharing the work that we have been doing at IPSA around women in security. In addition, the technology that they are creating in that part of the world is phenomenal and being able to see how that technology is being applied to areas like public safety is something that I’m really looking forward to.
I think overall it’s about meeting and connecting with people of different cultures.
How and why did your career transition into activism for equality, equity, diversity, and inclusion? What sparked this passion?
Well, Rebecca, I’ve enjoyed a career that spans back nearly three decades now, starting on the front line as a retail security officer. I won’t mention some of the businesses I worked for as many have sadly gone into administration, which would only reveal my age! I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my career. And you’re right, the EDI aspect, this people-focused approach, has always been part of my ethos, even when I was a frontline officer. This EDI aspect first came into my life around the time of the pandemic. Before COVID-19, I spent a lot of time on the road, travelling across the country. The pandemic allowed me more time to pursue other interests.
I was curious about the Security Institute. So, I joined and became a member of their Inclusive Security Special Interest Group. That was a pivotal moment for me, as I had worked my way up from the front line, through middle management, to a leadership role, having the privilege of working with some of the largest security service providers in the country. But it was during the pandemic that my passion for EDI really blossomed. There was no specific training or emphasis on this in the organisations I was part of. When I started focusing on this, it felt like I had found my purpose, my ‘what’s next’. As I progressed in my career, I kept asking myself what was next. The leadership role was going well, I was working with clients and teams, and then the people aspect came to the forefront through the Special Interest Group at the Security Institute.
Being part of that group was my calling. Before that, I wasn’t out as a gay woman. The group, with its mission statement and teachings about being your authentic self at work, helped me immensely. I hadn’t been able to be my true self for most of my career. Once I could, it was liberating, a freedom I had never felt before. I realised there must be others like me, unable to be their true selves at work. I wanted to share the joy and happiness that came with being my authentic self at work and the positive impact it had on my family and the communities I’m part of outside work. So, it comes from a place of lifelong passion for people, and the EDI aspect allows me to focus on that. It’s also been a personal journey. Not being my authentic self didn’t feel right, and I didn’t want my nieces and nephews to grow up in a world where they’d face similar barriers. If I could impact that in any way, I wanted to.
And Rebecca, I told myself that if I could change that for one person when I started this journey four years ago, the people’s journey, the EDI journey, I thought, that’s great. I would have felt like I’ve achieved so much. But actually, the impact has been significant. People from across the industry and our workplace have found a space where they can be their authentic selves in the workplace, and the joy that it brings by doing so, as well as the impact it has on businesses, is not something that can be easily measured. However, there is a metric that can be quantified, and I’ll discuss that later on. But it stems from a personal perspective and the workplace realisation that, “Hang on, I’ve been working in this industry for so long, and it’s only in the last four years that I’ve been exposed to this.” Even then, there were no clear resources for me to navigate the people aspect. What about events? Where’s the training? Where’s the awareness? Who can I turn to? Who are the role models in this field? So, this drive around the people aspect began, and I thought, as an industry, it has to start somewhere. So that’s where the journey started, driven by these motivations.
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