Skip to Content

SIA’s WISF Chair Kasia Hanson opens up about diversity, future for security

SIA’s WISF Chair Kasia Hanson opens up about diversity, future for security

SIA’s WISF Chair Kasia Hanson opens-up about diversity, future for security

YARMOUTH, Maine—As the Global Director of Edge AI Sales – Safety & Security, Safe Cities and Venues, Internet of Things Group at the Intel Corp., Kasia Hanson has her hands full, and yet she still finds time to give back to the security industry in myriad ways.

As the new chair for the Security Industry Association (SIA) Women in Security Forum (WISF), she has provided a clear vision for the future of a group that was formed in 2018 to drive greater diversity within an industry that has historically been male-dominated.

The WISF currently has more than 850 members, including both men and women across security, and one of Hanson’s top goals is to drive greater membership and awareness for this quickly growing group within SIA.

“With membership numbers rising, women and men are joining WISF as a place to connect,” Hanson told Security Systems News.  “We aim to double the membership by next year. Recently we conducted a member survey to get a better sense of what the members wanted from the forum, and the responses included networking, professional development, mentoring and learning more about the industry.”

Hanson pointed to a newly created partnership subcommittee led by BCD's Maureen Carlo – the prior WISF Chair who was instrumental in growing the group those first few years.

The new subcommittee is collaborating with the WISF Membership subcommittee led by Diana Hanna of PSA.

“They will focus on connecting with other women’s groups to expand and grow membership along with member value,” Hanson explained.  “We are also working to create WISF packages for member companies to encourage increased membership from leading companies in our industry. We are thrilled with the growth of the membership from women and men across SIA member companies and of course welcome new members from across the industry to join!”

Another important initiative for the WISF is expanding its professional development capabilities. “And with Elaine Palome leading the Professional Development subcommittee, we have a great start with the Wisdom Wednesdays series – this series brings in voices on topics impacting women in the workplace,” Hanson pointed out. “We hope to expand this series at future events such as ISC West and East, where we can expand workshops for Women in Security while attending industry events.”

One targeted area for growth is within industry awards and recognition. Currently, SIA and WISF have the Progress Award, which recognizes individuals who have significantly contributed to growing women in security, but Hanson said the goal is to expand on that while also pushing for greater opportunities for women to be recognized for industry-wide awards, as well as the creation of a possible “SIA WISF Power 100” list.

The WISF is also working hard to create a path to security for young professionals. Hanson pointed to development of a video about securing a career in the security industry – created through a collaboration between SIA, WISF and RISE teams – as a great example of this initiative, and builds on the SIA WISF and RISE Scholarship programs.

Benefits of Joining

By joining WISF, Hanson said members get direct access to programs that are “helping to advance women in security,” including networking events, training, professional development, charitable initiatives, a speaker bureau, industry awards and recognition.

“Getting involved is easy once a member,” she explained. “We have several subcommittees that are delivering back to the community through Give Back campaigns led by Alice DiSanto of Rajant; we have the education and scholarship outreach in collaboration with SIA RISE, led by Katie Greatti; and FAST led by Erin Mann. The industry recognition is a newer subcommittee looking for volunteers to help build a program that recognizes women in security along with industry partnerships with other industry groups.”   

The WISF is not just for women, Hanson asserted, and men are welcome and encouraged to join the group.

“Diversity and Inclusion is an issue for all of us,” she said. “We have many men on our steering committee and our subcommittees who are active in their support, voices and volunteerism. It’s important to have both male and female voices to bring a mutual understanding, perspectives and bring both voices into important initiatives that move the industry forward together.”

When asked about her journey in a primarily male-dominated and historically non-diverse security industry, Hanson said she saw that challenge and disparity as an opportunity.

“When I joined the security industry, I noticed the opportunity to increase diversity and have seen progress in the industry thanks to the creation of groups such as Women in Security Forum and industry support,” she said. “We must continue on this mission to bring diversity, not just women but also ethnic backgrounds and experiences that will help the industry continue to evolve and grow!”

Future for the Industry

Hanson said that the overall goal is not only to get more women and diversity within security, but also within leadership and management roles.

“We are on a journey and hope that through the WISF and our work with member companies, we can create awareness and opportunity for women in executive roles in the industry,” she pointed out. “SIA and WISF created a Speakers Bureau to help generate a database of female speakers on a range of topics. We hope through this initiative, it helps to bring more awareness of the talent in the industry and therefore opening the door for more advancement opportunities for women in security.”

New technologies, such as artificial intelligence and cybersecurity, are also attracting and bringing more diverse perspectives to security, while pushing the way the industry looks at physical security today.

“I’ve talked about AI moving the industry and it continues to do that very rapidly,” she said. “The amount of new technology across many use cases in the industry, as well as across verticals such as retail, industrial and transportation, enable new business intelligence insights for customers and an opportunity for integrators to create recurring revenue as they build their AI and cybersecurity expertise.”

Please click here to join Security Industry Association’s Women in Security Forum.


To comment on this post, please log in to your account or set up an account now.