Female Bodyguards: The Rise of the Women In Black
Executive Protection is not about brute strength; it is about applying intuition and instinct, and combining those qualities with knowledgeable security skills to avoid the threat or minimize risk at the earliest stage.
Close Protection Operatives measure success in how uneventful the day was, how faultlessly the trip went and the seamlessness of a special event. The key is identifying threats before they materialize, not just being prepared for a dramatic response when trouble erupts.
While men represent the majority, women can be very effective within Executive Protection, and unquestionably valuable in certain security situations where a lower profile and better ‘soft skills’ are required. Demand for females operatives is growing all the time. Both the Prime Minister and Duchess of Cambridge have female private security. In China the requirement for bodyguards has sky-rocketed as the number of millionaire’s has grown rapidly and female bodyguards are especially in demand.
The bodyguard stereotype has evolved these days. For many clients, the need to have private security can feel disruptive to living a normal life. Any security operatives role is to minimize the impact of a security detail on the clients daily life and, when necessary, on the lives of the clients family. A female client accompanied by a woman protector is a more natural fit, less obtrusive and in keeping with gender roles, can act as protector, housekeepers and babysitters. If you’re working with children, for example, a female can take them to the park or pick them up from school and no one’s sure if she’s the nanny or the mother. A woman can sit in a restaurant or go shopping with a client without drawing attention.
We have seen a rise in requests for female bodyguards where female body searches are required (media blocks at high profile parties) or at ladies only events, where our clients are wearing high value jewellery and request a ‘low profile’ protective surveillance option. Then there is the question of cultural propriety. Middle eastern clients, for example, are often unhappy with the idea of another man being in such proximity to their wives or daughters.
Women have the capacity to bring a different approach to work, as was illustrated during the Olympic Torch UK Tour in 2012. The Torch security team had various female operatives, who were great at minimizing escalation and reducing any crowd tension that arose if the security bubble around the torch was breached.
Few women, of course, will have the traditional bodyguard’s build but Close Protection is increasingly about ‘brains over brawn’. On any task, most of the job is about risk assessment and a significant amount of time is spent on strategic operational planning researching and identifying potential threats in order to mitigate these before they happen. Not only are good organizational abilities and excellent research skills critical, Close Protection Operatives represent their clients and therefore need to present themselves; clothing, demeanour, and conversational style in such a way that they blend in.
Ultimately, women can bring an element of diversity and different ways of looking at problems, which is no bad thing in any team situation.