Bridges not Walls: The Intersection of Sustainability and Security

build bridges not walls

Many companies rely on the integration of their separate departmental efforts to be more than the sum of their constituent parts. Equally, each of the parts must be viable in the first instance. Corporate Social Responsibility or Sustainability initiatives are expense-only programs that are easily justified – indeed essential – in today’s way of mining. Sustainability recognises how important it is for corporations to promote a physical and social environment that will continue to support their business.

Security, on the other hand, whilst also a draw on the bottom line, is rarely perceived as a positive contributor. The pursuit of security, particularly in politically volatile environments, may tend to focus on “hard” measures such as building higher walls and retreating inside of perimeters to keep trouble out. Whilst forms of these measures are undoubtedly requirements of security design, a “drawbridge” approach is static, exclusive, unimaginative, and inconsistent with the longer-term objectives of dynamic mining companies. Isolation protects from current threats, but it does nothing for the future of a company. Equipment and measures quickly become dated, replacement strains allocated resources, spend justification is difficult without tangibly adding value resulting in a deference of expenditure and acceptance of risk based on current threat assessments.

Sustainability and Security are, however, both compatible and integral to an organisation’s success. Companies that embrace “Sustainable Security” both enhance their security posture whilst also improving their public image.

Sustainable Security goes beyond analysis of current threats to the development of a series of frameworks for new security strategies. It is a system of systems that recognises how important it is for mines to promote a positive physical and social environment. It is a strategic approach that takes a broader and longer-term view of threats and builds alliances to develop a more secure environment for everyone in a mine’s operating region.

Engaging the various constituencies that influence security, rather than retreating from them, is foundational to a successful strategy departmentally and for the company. When community members perceive an alignment between their security and that of the company, the latter enjoys a “social fence” that is more valuable than a physical one. By pursuing strategies in which corporate security and security of surrounding communities are mutually reinforcing, the security of a company becomes sustainable.

Sustainable Security is a model that relies on bridges rather than fences. It enables companies to reduce future incidents of sabotage, theft, and protest. Arguably, for assets like mines that are simply too vast and exposed to protect only with traditional “hard” security measures, it is the only reasonable approach. Sustainable Security is a more comprehensive and longer-lasting model than traditional security; ultimately it lowers the risk to corporate reputation and enhances community trust. The result is an improvement of business expansion opportunities by building a legacy of goodwill. It is Security adding value.

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