Clarity Factory Founder Uncovers the Undeniable Correlation Between Diversity and Innovation in the Security Industry

A skilled analyst understands that their role extends beyond data identification; it involves extracting meaningful insights and effectively communicating them to their audience. Rachel Briggs, CEO and Founder of the Clarity Factory, has excelled in the latter and is committed to bridging the gap between academia, policy, and practice in her research within the physical security and cybersecurity space. Her messaging is uniquely succinct and is focused on “what can the reader go and do differently in the office tomorrow.”

Briggs is a leading expert on security and has advised governments and multinational corporations on security, resilience, terrorism, and responses to extremism. She conducts research, thought leadership, and consulting for corporate clients on security and cybersecurity. She is also an Associate Fellow at Chatham House. She was awarded an OBE by Her Majesty the Queen in 2014 for services to hostage families and kidnap victims overseas.

Briggs and host Dr. Marisa Randazzo discuss:

  • Why great ideas can change the world and how the Clarity Factory helps identify new insights and drive innovation in the corporate security and cybersecurity industry.
  • Her process of conveying research to leaders around an organization and the important exercise of always coming back to the core argument.
  • The undeniable connection between diversity and innovation in the security industry and what gives her hope that change is possible in the near future.

Key Takeaways:

02:50: Rachel Briggs: Any area or profession needs to have good ideas to be able to continually change and improve and face the increasing challenges that we face in the world. But great ideas change the world. (Of course if they are grounded in reality.)

06:31: Rachel Briggs: I think the simpler you can keep your ideas, without dumbing them down of course, the further they can travel and the better able people are able to implement it. That’s why it’s about clarity for me — it’s about taking the messy old world we live in today and making it understandable on a broader scale.

06:58: Marisa Randazzo: One of the things that has really impressed me about the work that you have done has been not only the clarity of the ideas but of how you communicate those ideas — especially for a corporate security or c-suite audience. It’s not just the idea itself. I’d love to just hear about the process of how you go from kind of that raw data to really. Deriving the insights that that you do and then how you communicate it.

08:07: Rachel Briggs:  I’m a really big believer in trusting the process. You start by opening the funnel and you know what your initial question is and you keep that really simple, and you then open it up and gather as much data and information as you possibly can. At a certain point in time you have to stop and go back down the funnel in the other direction and really get sharp on what the argument is — just try and write what it is. I force myself to get back to one piece of paper and find a way of really describing what it is I think this is telling me in a very succinct way before I start writing.

I think having that discipline really helps you to write and to communicate in a way that is clear. You’re always coming back to your core argument and it really helps you to figure out — is this bit of data relevant or not? Because inevitably you end up with too much and you have to be ruthless.

15:55: Rachel Briggs: You know in anything I write, whether it’s a 500 word blog post or a 20,000 word report, it has to be focused on what can the reader go and do differently in the office tomorrow.

21:11: Marisa Randazzo: Within security, practitioners are often trying to talk with departments outside of security — whether it is to brief a c-suite on security issues or talk with human resources or an employee assistance program — oftentimes they speak different languages and a researcher within the violence risk assessment field has talked about this great term of boundary spanner. Someone who speaks different kinds of languages in different sectors so you can communicate clearly across different domains.

26:08: Rachel Briggs: I had the pleasure of working with ASIS International and its foundation. I spent about nine months diving into the issue of diversity equity and inclusion within corporate security and – spoiler alert- there isn’t as much diversity as there should be. Perhaps we didn’t need a piece of research to tell us that but more importantly, what I wanted to do was get under the skin of that and really understand what’s happening.

I interviewed 16 chief security officers and I think without exception all of them got why security and diversity were important. One of the responses that really gave me hope was when we asked for people to tell us from strongly agree to strongly disagree whether they would speak up if they saw something that wasn’t right (some discriminatory behavior) and the vast majority of respondents — across all groups men, women, straight, gay, disabled, non-disabled etc — said they absolutely would speak up.

In other words, and I thought that was really important because essentially what we’re talking about in terms of diversity is a change management challenge. We’re trying to take an industry from being from looking and sounding one way to looking and sounding different in some ways. Change happens first because there are the firebrands who are on the frontline who are fighting and shouting and you often feel like they’re sort of shouting into an empty room in those early years but answers like that that say people are willing to speak up. This tells me that things are changing.