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Ethical Considerations for Executive Protection Teams

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Protection teams and entire armies from diverse cultures have historically adhered to moral standards for conduct that would benefit them for the duration of their lives and determine their success. Taking a retrospective, humanity’s understanding of the goals and consequences of its actions has led to the development of the so-called ethics that multi-billion dollar corporations today have standardized. This article explores just that and how executive protection teams fit in.

But before that: The objective of the first ethical Greek philosophers, who appeared in the fifth century BC, was to awaken human civilization to the significance of analysis of its values and actions. The trusting historical attributes of the aristocracy and the skeptical pragmatism of the business class prompted philosophers such as Socrates, Aristotle, and Plato, to examine the above. They required justifications for moral standards because they were dissatisfied with the self-fulfilling claims of tradition.

Ancient philosophers were responsible for the development of modern ethics. They believed that through rational thought, humanity could formulate a set of moral guidelines that would balance the goals of each individual with those of society as a whole. Thus, they would be broadly applicable to all social groups — and for this article’s sake — mostly applicable to today’s executive protection teams.

The Board’s Mission and Ethics

The concerns of ethical experts switched from theoretical to practical ethics in the centuries that followed, i.e., to the latest ideas about the purposes of human existence and new values of behavior. Moreover, social change influenced every new era, including shifts like the

  • Extinction of ancient traditions,
  • Rise of new institutions and social groups, and
  • Transformation of dominant groups.

As a result, new social and ethical norms and new guiding concepts for personal behavior come with each subsequent generation. From a historical perspective, it is, therefore, impossible to see the emergence of ethical systems as a simple shift. Conversely, variations in social, political, religious, and economic structures across centuries have affected viewpoints on ethics and morality, as well as behavior expectations.

The complex organizations of the twenty-first century developed more stringent, multi-stakeholder, and transcontinental guiding programs to promote and support the Board’s mission.

The Right Thing to Do

The Association of Certified Fraud Examiners recommends strengthening organizations’ corporate governance programs by having employees sign their internal Code of Business Conduct and Ethics (COBCE) policies. That is a reasonable risk prevention practice that many enterprises use yearly. This ensures that everyone knows their fundamental responsibilities and complies with the highest standards of professionalism throughout the business mission, vision, and ethics.

Ethical concerns, as a set of morals and guiding principles for ‘right-to-do’ actions, are integral to day-to-day routines, particularly for EP and security professionals.

To guarantee that executive protection teams are not simply signing the last page of the policy as an acknowledgment and submitting it back to the Chief Compliance Officer or Chief Security Officer (CSO) as an internal reference, Loss Prevention and Code of Conduct and Ethics training is now mandatory as part of companies’ governance programs. Trainees complete those trainings only with exams to demonstrate successful execution to accomplish the program’s overarching goal.

The ACFE emphasizes that ‘Tone at the Top’ is a crucial element of the success of corporate governance programs. Having the right sponsors leading the way, such as the company’s Chairman and CEO, through a statement of purpose at the beginning of each training, influences the right culture as much as the COBCE itself. Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructure recommends the same approach through its 5Es model for embedding a security culture by endorsing credible sources such as CEOs and CSOs.

The Culture of Accountability

Professional EP programs serve a ‘Duty-of-Care’ context that includes strategic security risk management (SRM) aims in alignment with the business environment.

Despite being linked, SRM and security governance have different concepts. Designing and implementing a combination of control mechanisms and tools will allow your principal to rest assured that security risk mechanisms are well-thought-out, implemented, and running, which is essential for executive protection and security management.

Security governance establishes the foundation for an accountability culture that shapes and reinforces ethical and sustainable SRM behaviors from top to bottom within our executive protection teams. In conjunction with the overall security governing structure, security management systems establish relevant policies, protocols, and regulations under this holistic EP services program.

Different EP managers globally and in charge of their program activities, along with all EP agents, are held accountable for implementing and preserving such protective strategies. Following the basic SRM infrastructure comes down to the very personal, independent skills widely known as ‘soft skills’ or ‘people skills’ to contribute to the desired resilient EP environment. A team’s attitude, ethics, and character define its resilience level.

On Resilience of Executive Protection Teams

Resilience in the contemporary environment is more about preserving a valued capability as a human and less about structured, documented tools. The idea of resilience is more linked to safeguarding your principal and organization in extent, vision, and mission rather than formal loss prevention strategies.

Resilience is the capacity of executive protection teams, a single agent, or the organization, to mitigate the negative impacts of disruptive events. But also to capitalize on the situation as a catalyst for improvement. The EP team’s ability to profit from the incident together, rebound and go above and beyond the pre-event protection level matters the most in this context. For example, the incident may have

  • Resulted in casualties, or
  • Ruined or severely affected equipment — or even behaviors.

Notable terrorist acts or significant global environmental disasters are illustrations of these events. But, most significantly, disruptive events may be of any extent or complexity and would demand resilience. To recover stability and growth, the team must adopt or employ a resilient mindset for each event.

Therefore, fostering resilience is more about establishing a versatile, adaptive, and changeable manner of thinking, behaving and managing. This is the ‘How’ of influencing the transformation in both the external and internal settings rather than rigid systems, stiff practices, and tangible methodologies. This is where ethical considerations come into play within executive protection teams and ultimately determine the success level.

“…it is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change,” Charles Darwin.

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