Can you tell us about HXZA and its operations?
HXZA is the leading China-based provider of security and risk management solutions in complex environments around the world. Our privately-held firm with over 21,000 employees provides specialized customer-centric services to protect client assets and personnel by implementing bespoke threat mitigation strategies which simultaneously simplify operations and harden security posture, all while reducing costs and building a responsible brand.
Core services include armed maritime security, K&R response, executive protection, static site security, training, risk assessment, and security technology integration.
The HXZA Group of companies was founded in 2004 by Mr. Weihong Yin, a successful businessman with extensive experience at the intersection of security and commerce. As Chairman and CEO, Mr. Yin brings a unique perspective on quality, customer service, and protective solutions, having created for this company an internationally-known reputation of integrity and trust at a level unsurpassed in Asia.
Since it was founded, the company has been continuously recognized as a brand-name leader in the security industry across China and globally- known for corporate social responsibility, innovation, total compliance, and quality assurance.
Why was joining ICoCA and attaining ICoCA certification important for HXZA?
HXZA management has supported the global harmonization of quality standards and universal application of human rights law in the private security sector since the company’s incorporation. That is why HXZA was motivated to become a founding member of ICoCA at the Association’s inception.
Evidencing the company’s focus on quality are many firsts, including being the first company in Asia to receive ISO 28007 and ICoCA certification and the first in China to undertake audit for ISO 18788 and PSC-1.
HXZA constantly strives to enhance the quality of company services, promote a responsible brand, and be a genuine force for good– creating low-profile, but positive impacts in the sensitive regions where we operate. There is no better way to demonstrate this commitment to clients and relevant authorities than through ICoCA certification, which provides a real independent recognition and review of our management systems above and beyond ISO standards to include CSR and human rights compliance.
This is particularly important when operating in sensitive commercial environments across Asia and Africa (our core target markets) and to evidence a higher level service offering than our competition.
How is the private security sector developing in China, and what role might ICoCA play in ensuring responsible security by Chinese private security companies?
The private security sector in China is enormous. There are thousands of PSCs registered in China and over five million security guards. Along with HXZA, there are several other sophisticated Chinese PSCs operating overseas.
These companies all operate at various levels of service provision, and the Chinese government at both national and provincial levels has implemented several different certification schemes and will be rolling out new ones shortly. While these schemes have brought some order to an otherwise unwieldy industry, there is still significant room for improvement, which could come in the form of independent certification through a multi-stakeholder initiative like ICoCA which promotes the integration of human rights compliance into the operational or management review.
So while provincial and national standards in China may set the mandatory minimum thresholds for a PSC to operate, ICoCA could serve as a higher voluntary maximum standard for best-of-breed companies, like HXZA, to evidence their leading market positions and reflect their real ability to deliver sophisticated services in complex environments globally, especially with regard to CSR and human rights.
Also, when looking at CB functions in China for ISO audits alone, it is evident that the market is complicated, to say the least, as unfortunately some local CBs operate in unscrupulous ways. While UKAS accreditation is available to the upper echelons of the market where HXZA is active, it is not accessible for many smaller PSCs due to language or trade barriers as well as a lack of awareness of the benefits. ICoCA could play a role as a second set of eyes to independently review management systems with a focus on CSR and human rights above and beyond the standard ISO audit by local CBs. This would serve as a solution to the problem of PSCs receiving certification in exchange for payment alone or as favors based on personal relationships. ICoCA’s neutral, independent nature and the internal checks-and-balances derived from it being a multi-stakeholder initiative formally structured as a Swiss non-profit association can be very fitting for and attractive in the China market.
How might Chinese companies be encouraged to promote responsible security through their supply chains by contracting ICoCA member companies?
One word: Education. Chinese client companies, along with their global counterparts, need to be educated on the benefits of contracting ICoCA members. This is especially the case for publicly-traded and state-owned companies, which may have a lower risk tolerance across the security spectrum. What is often overlooked, unfortunately, is the client’s legal and reputational risk when contracting security services, especially with regard to potential opportunities for human rights violations which are all too prevalent in the security sector.
While risk of violations can never be eliminated fully, it can be professionally managed and ICoCA certification of PSCs can reassure clients, their investors, and other related stakeholders in this regard, demonstrating that the PSC has a reviewed and approved management system designed to minimize the likelihood of a human rights transgression, that the company can appropriately respond to any incidents or transgressions in the unlikely event such did occur, and most importantly reaffirm a constant focus on human rights across the PSC’s operating footprint from the CEO’s suite to every field position.
HXZA is currently the only maritime security company to hold ICoCA certification, why is raising standards within the maritime sector important?
The maritime security sector has been going through a race-to-the-bottom. Driven by falling offer-prices and squeezed margins, quality has unfortunately dropped in this niche industry over the last years. Achieving ICoCA Certification with the specific service scope, Provision of Maritime Security Services in the Gulf of Aden, East Coast of Africa, and the Indian Ocean, is a huge milestone for the company as we continue to maintain the high standards expected by our customers.
As the largest maritime security service provider from China, holding a majority share of the Chinese market, HXZA sought to differentiate our service level from the competition and evidence that we are not only a leader in quantity, but completely committed to quality. ISO 28007, now considered as the ubiquitous mandatory minimum standard in this industry was not enough to satisfy the insatiable compliance appetite of top international clients due to the unique nature of our work. ICoCA certification, however, provides tangible evidence for our customers that HXZA’s services remain market-leading. Having ICoCA certification in hand as a voluntary maximum standard above and beyond ISO 28007 adds credibility and professionalism to our best-of-breed platform which clients cannot find elsewhere. This has opened up new opportunities for HXZA beyond China, as international clients, especially those from Northern Europe, now understand and appreciate the enhanced service quality available from HXZA, demonstrable via ICoCA certification.
As for implementing the ICoC in practice, it is no secret that the maritime industry as a whole has a horrendous reputation when it comes to human rights, especially in the commercial fishing industry where HXZA is quite active. Having a verifiable human rights compliance strategy and management system, including operator training on human rights and the ICoC can make a bona fide positive influence in this sector. While we are still the only, we hope we are not the last and that many other PSCs operating in the maritime environment follow suit and work toward obtaining ICoCA certification to evidence their prioritization of human rights in this complex environment.
The maritime security sector is in dire need of an overhaul and we believe ICoCA certification is a key method for differentiating the serious players, like HXZA, that maintain a genuine human rights program to support long term commercial viability from underqualified and unsustainable debt-ridden companies simply scraping by with the lowest rates. The proof is in the pudding, and maritime clients will get what they pay for.
Beyond certification, how has HXZA benefited from being a member of ICoCA?
Along with becoming certified ourselves, which was a tremendous achievement evidencing our quality standards for major clients, ICoCA serves as a forum for us to identify and recruit competent partners and subcontractors, giving us a high level of assurance that all partners’ systems and policies are commensurate with ours. This reduces our own risk, and subsequently client risk, while simultaneously increasing chances of a successful business relationship built on a common corporate culture of compliance.
Many view ICoCA only as a standard-setting and standard-monitoring organization. However, we view the ICoCA industry pillar also as a commercial platform for networking with other likeminded companies who hold a shared priority of integrating compliance and human rights into their operations, and are committed to upholding these values and implementing the ICoC throughout their businesses. We make ICoCA affiliation part of our vetting process when selecting foreign local partners or subcontractors; and thus encourage local PSCs from around the world to consider joining ICoCA, aspire toward certification, and pursue combined commercial opportunities together with fellow ICoCA members.