Julio Molano, President of Siete24, an ICoCA Member Company, shares his insights on leading a responsible security company in Colombia.
Can you tell us about Siete24
We are a Colombian based security company, operating nationwide, across multiple industries with over 1200 guards. We focus on integrating data collected for our clients by our security officers. With the data gathered from different types of sensors, we generate field operational intelligence to enable better decision making in security, safety and operations.
How did the company hear about ICoCA, why did it decide to join the Association and what impact has this had for the organization?
We first learned about ICoCA when drafting a proposal for a UN contract that required compliance with a set of standards in human rights. We did some research about the topic, and after some careful evaluation, we believed it was the best way to complement our code of ethics, which at the time was being worked on.
The impact has been extremely positive. We have written clear guidelines for all stakeholders in the company, allowing us to measure and improve all of our operations and internal relations, reducing employee turnover.
How has COVID-19 impacted your business and how have you adapted your operations to the pandemic.
The impact on our company was not as hard as we have seen in other industries and even some competitors. We have a diversified portfolio of clients, and a large part of them where not deeply impacted by the pandemic, keeping the whole ecosystem running.
Our turnover is the lowest ever at this point. We have given our guards all the necessary PPE, training and fluid communications so that they understand the risks and how to be protected at all time. We haven’t had one sick employee in 100 days of pandemic.
We have also made a big effort not to terminate contracts, sending our workforce on paid vacation in 2 week stretches by cohorts. As each cohort returned, we would send the next, helping us preserve employment and keeping our promise of sticking together through tough times. In the end, we only lost about 11% of revenues, and have recovered about 35% of that as the economy reopens.
We have seen new opportunities arise throughout the pandemic. Siete24 has worked on developing technology integrations in the IoT and computer vision sensor space, in an effort to help companies comply with social distancing policies, reduce operational costs and increase customer knowledge, while we use that data to improve security. The response from clients has been better than anticipated.
I understand that Siete24’s senior management team other than the CEO are all women. How does this benefit the company and what is the company doing to champion gender equality across the company?
The majority of our leadership team is composed of women, plus, 22% of our security officers are also female. The biggest benefit, I believe, relies on women being more empathetic than men, making collaboration across areas and people easier. This line of work requires that we are good at listening to our employees’ needs, more than in any other industry, women make sure this happens consistently across the company.
Championing equality, for us, means giving everyone the same opportunities, so when women apply for a job, we give them the same chance as anyone else.
Given current travel restrictions, what strategies should ICoCA employ to help to raise awareness about the Association and to help raise private security industry standards in Colombia and more broadly through Latin America?
I believe that Covid-19 has given business leaders the time and chance to think carefully about the type of company that they want to be, and this should impact all organizations across all areas, aiming for more human centered businesses.
Changes should arise when clients demand that their security providers are compliant in a set of ethical standards, among those ICoCA. When clients start firmly requesting that their security providers meet desired behaviors, the industry will follow. For the same reason, I believe that ICoCA should be targeting its marketing efforts towards security users, not vendors. In the end, it is the client who decides what type of company they will hire: one that is in line with shared values? Or one that has nothing in common with their vision of the company they want to become? It’s not a hard choice if they have a clear set of values.