Women in Security: Donna Chapman

Industry has come a long way, but more needs to be done
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Monday, December 9, 2019

After working with a manufacturing company for 7 years, having the opportunity to serve multiple roles, Donna Chapman, now of ASSA ABLOY, was seeking a new challenge with potential for career advancement. In 1998, she officially started a career in the security industry as a technical support specialist at Locknetics, a division of Ingersoll-Rand, supporting customers with electronic access control and architectural door hardware.

“It was very demanding, fast paced, constantly evolving industry, and I quickly became ‘hooked,’” Chapman said, who has always enjoyed helping customers with their opening needs and complexities by applying the right solutions to them.

Back then, there were very few female customers and colleagues, so Chapman did not have a female role model/mentor in her professional journey. “Because there were so few of us [women], I think it was more about holding your own and generating success along the way by proving results, despite the head wind,” she said.

There have been, however, a select few professional male leaders that Chapman has encountered along the way who stepped up to help open doors for workplace change regarding the acceptance of women into a primarily male-dominated industry. And, on a personal level, Chapman mentioned her mother, who possessed many talents and whom she considers her life-long female role model. “She instilled in me a ‘you-can-do-anything-you-want-to-do’ attitude and mindset, which has allowed me to just put myself out there, and that has truly carried me along my life’s journey, professionally and personally,” Chapman said.

Throughout her 22-year career in the physical security industry, Chapman has learned not only about the industry itself, but the human element part of it, too. “With very few women doing what I was doing, it left me feeling somewhat of an underdog,” she expressed. “You certainly had to prove yourself, and often. And some men just believed we [women] were not cut out for this [working in the security industry] and added a layer of complexity when it came to fitting in, achieving success and ultimately, to be acknowledged as a true industry peer.”

Compensation also reflected lesser than that of her male counterparts, but that’s what motivated Chapman to push herself harder to grow, stretch and succeed. “I am about being judged on what I do, how I do it and what I’ve accomplished to define my next opportunity and advancements in my career plans.”

What helped Chapman press on and make a difference where her contributions started to get noticed and appreciated within the industry was/is her can-do attitude of making personal adjustments and adding a layer of toughness to her mindset. She began to observe the opening of leaders’ eyes to see the value add and uniqueness that both men and women collaboratively could offer the industry. It was at this point that she began to feel there was now an advantage to being a woman in the security industry.

“Once I ‘earned my stripes’ and was accepted into the ‘club,’ I became highly regarded and developed many great relationships within the industry as if I had many brothers on my side who I work with and for, constantly looking out for me and partnering whenever opportunities arose. Today, I feel very lucky and thankful to be in a place where both my male and female industry peers, colleagues and customers make up a network called ‘our security industry family.’”

There is still more that can be improved upon when it comes to getting more women and diversity into security leadership roles and Chapman is all for pressing the envelope and self-advocating.

“I think by pushing yourself to be held at the same standards, both in capabilities and compensation of your male peers, by achieving successes and proven results, and self-advocacy is the recipe for consideration and the movement towards progress,” she said. “By demonstrating to top leaders within the industry that women can offer a value add that compliments what our male counterparts can offer will elevate everyone’s overall impact and contributions for the greater good of the security industry.”

But, make no mistake; the security industry is hard work and requires knowledge that involves many elements that factor into security as a whole. It’s challenging to know and understand all that it entails but success can be achieved.

“It requires an effective contributor, leader and visionary, and it’s about listening, learning and leading the charge,” Chapman said. “I have my hand on the pulse of where we are and where we are going; and I take in as many learning opportunities possible to constantly improve how I conduct my everyday business and objectives.”

If working in an industry that offers a multitude of career paths and advancement opportunities, and a far from boring career is interesting, Chapman advised: “Just go for it. Jump right in! Join our club. To represent an industry that actually effects and impacts security and safety within our communities in which we live is rewarding all in itself.”

The industry has come a long way with improved on-boarding, mentoring and guiding women and new people to, within and through the industry. Since joining the security industry, Chapman has been and continues to be provided multiple opportunities to learn, grow and achieve more.

“Being a part of this highly innovative, ever evolving industry, helping to shape change and impact others is what I am most passionate about, and the reason I see myself staying involved in this industry for years to come,” she said.