Giving Back at ISC West (S2:E54)
March 9, 2023
Just in time for Women’s History Month, Alice DiSanto, VP of Global Marketing, Rajant Corporation, and SIA Charitable Giving Subcommittee Chair, joins us to discuss the critical need to usher in socioeconomic change for women. For the third year in a row, the Security Industry Association (SIA), the Women in Security Forum (WISF), Dress for Success Southern Nevada (DFSSN), and ISC West are teaming up to enable more women to get the jobs they want and need through the Essentials 4 Job Security Giveback.
Voiceover: You are listening to Humans in Tech. Our podcast explores today's most transformative technology and the trends of tomorrow, bringing together the brightest minds in and outside of our industry. We unpack what's new in physical access, identity verification, cybersecurity and IOT ecosystems. We reach beyond the physical world, discuss our digital transformation as a species, and dive into the emerging digital [00:00:30] experience. Join us on our journey as we discover just how connected the future will be and how we will fit into that picture. Your host is Leigh Dow.
Leigh Dow: Thanks for tuning in. Today we're talking to a special guest, Alice DiSanto. Alice is the vice president of global marketing for Rajant Corporation, the broadband technology company that invented kinetic mesh networking, breadcrumb wireless nodes, and InstaMesh network software. Alice is also a fellow member of the SIA Women in [00:01:00] Security Forum, and she's here to discuss how critical it is to support women and help usher in socioeconomic change. Thank you for being here today, Alice. This is a topic that's super near and dear to my heart.
Alice DiSanto: Oh, well thanks for having me, Leigh.
Leigh Dow: Yeah, it's nice to meet another unicorn, which is what I call women executives in our industry unfortunately. Working in marketing, you find a lot of women in the marketing function in a lot of different companies, but this industry [00:01:30] was fairly new to me. I started working in security a little over about two and a half years ago, and especially on the physical access control side, it was a new technology for me. And so the first event I went to, I was one of six women there in about 300, and I was really surprised by that. I've worked in technology my whole life, but I hadn't seen that before. So I know that especially in executive roles are [00:02:00] certainly rare and it's just always nice to hear how other women have ended up here. What was your path?
Alice DiSanto: So when I got to the security industry, it was in about 2015 and so about eight years in now. And I had been in technology before in my career, and so when I got there and I saw the disproportionate ratio of men to women, I wasn't surprised because it looked very similar to what I went through in the automotive industry back in the late eighties and early nineties. [00:02:30] And I know from other women that had continued to stay in the automotive side of the business that that absolutely was transformed. So I knew that there was light at the end of the tunnel for each and every one of us as far as transformative change.
I started with security on a robot project specifically with Sharp Electronics. And so super exciting to be on like a cutting edge technology and thrown into the deep end of the ocean [00:03:00] with a security application for a 400 pound ground-based robot. And from there, because we were working with integrators, one of the first people that I met was a woman named Margie Gurwin. And she had been in the space for quite some time, made quick introductions to many different stakeholders in the business and inclusive of many other women who had been in the pioneering space for the last few years. And [00:03:30] the rest is history.
Leigh Dow: That's awesome. You were recently honored as the 2022 recipient of the SIA committee Chair of the Year Award, which recognizes individuals for excellence in leading SIA committees and advancing member objectives. Which committee was it and what did it mean to you to receive the award?
Alice DiSanto: So the committee is SIA's Women in Security Forum Charitable Give Back, and I have to tell you, I was totally shocked. So [00:04:00] the effort that myself and the committee put in, because it's a team of wonderful people that have worked on this since 2020. We just keep our heads down and just move forward and quite frankly weren't there to be making any splash, just there to be making a difference. So to be recognized in such a way was really a testament to the greater work of the Give Back Committee.
Leigh Dow: I completely agree with that. [00:04:30] I think that the people who tend to win these kinds of awards are the people who have that mindset, which is, "I'm not in it for that. I'm in it because I truly care about the mission."
Alice DiSanto: Yes, for sure. Well, we were, I think I just mentioned 2020, right? So we had thought about starting before the pandemic, but of course then the pandemic happened. And so we were like, "Well, what in heaven's name now are we looking at as far as need?" [00:05:00] And that really informed the earliest decisions. And so when we were able to really get back into it and do events, and in this case for this particular committee anchored around the ISC experiences, east and west, there was no doubt of some of the things that we were going to be focused on.
Leigh Dow: Only about less than 2%, about 1.6% of all charitable giving goes to women and girls causes. [00:05:30] And out of that, less than zero, less than 3%, or is it less than 0.3%? Goes towards gender and equality employment. So tell us about the SIA Women in Security Forum Essentials For Job Security Give Back and how you're making an impact through that program.
Alice DiSanto: So we are focused with that, that is the ISC West experience. And it is now going to be in its third year, [00:06:00] coming in a few weeks. And what we saw there is that the women in the Las Vegas marketplace, that whole entertainment space, which is predominantly female based, the service workers on the front lines, they were shut out of employment for all of those months. So the need for the Southern Nevada chapter for Dress for Success was extremely great. [00:06:30] It's getting better with each and every passing year as we get further away from the pandemic. But the women that they serve are still, 50% of them are below the poverty level. So we wanted to not only provide what is normally provided to Dress for Success, which is wears and dresses as the name calls. What we wanted to do further was to bring them into the experience of ISD West and to actually participate in the activities, [00:07:00] to mentor.
To shadow the women and men that are there at the trade show, talk about their career path experience, what it's like to actually work in a booth, attend some of the education sessions. And so that's what we've actually been able to accomplish over the last three years, and we're looking to do even more this year. This year is going to be the first year that ISC Reed Management is aligning with us because the bigger [00:07:30] mission here is to have sustainability. And so the sustainability mission statement that Reed has, aligns with what we're doing, which is repurposing clothing in this case or hygiene products or anything like that so that they don't go into landfills. And at the same time, provide further stability for women who are typically the primary caregivers of their families, [00:08:00] which then of course impacts children.
Leigh Dow: I love that. And it's such a great industry for that type of program because security industry is so broad with respect to the different jobs and job types, and there are actually many jobs that don't require an advanced degree. Or you can get certifications for a vo-tech training for... There's a lot of different avenues to become a part of the security industry.
Alice DiSanto: [00:08:30] Certainly, and we took both the initiatives that we have around ISC and did the play on words. So used the term of people working in security to address other insecurities that are out there in our society, which are obstacles or roadblocks for women to become successful. In the case of ISC West, it's all about attaining a job. In the case of ISC East, it's actually food.
Leigh Dow: [00:09:00] Interesting. So what are some of the specific items that are needed?
Alice DiSanto: So for this, because of the nature of what the economic conditions are in Las Vegas, the entertainment business, the number one thing is black attire. So entry level pants and working shoes and tops so that they can have those frontline jobs and still look polished. On top of that, accessories are a [00:09:30] big item. They love that because then everybody that is coming into Dress for Success feels extremely polished going on their job interviews. We look to hygiene products, so simple things which seem simple to us, but a lipstick, a little bit of base powder, body creams, all of those things are really fantastic.
And also portfolios, things that a professional would carry, whether [00:10:00] it's a case for a computer, if they're blessed with that, a calendar, that type of thing, planner. And then last but not least, which is actually one of the most impactful things, is thank you notes. Or sorry, notes of encouragement. So these can be handwritten, they can be as simple as, "Go girl, you've got this." And those are used and repurposed throughout the year from the time that we have the ISC event until the next one rolls around and dropped [00:10:30] into the care packages that everyone receives when they go to Dress for Success. So if nothing else, everybody has time to write a few encouraging words and to move their spirits along and keep them high.
Leigh Dow: Oh, that's beautiful. I love that idea.
Alice DiSanto: Yeah. It's really been a great thing. Actually, Dress for Success Southern Nevada, went on to build their own campaign out of the momentum that they saw that we were shining their way. And [00:11:00] it's, "Your hour, her power." Where now some of the women in security have been asked to make a statement or make a video and just be out there for our campaign this entire month long, the women's month of March. So there's about a handful of us that send messages that will be broadcast throughout social media to keep again, the light shining and to really get the other organizations that [00:11:30] surround the greater Las Vegas area a little more sticky around the mission and to keep the women top of mind given the statistics of being below the poverty level.
Leigh Dow: Where can people drop off donations at ISC West?
Alice DiSanto: Yeah, so there's a couple of different places, again, because we're so blessed to extend with the support of Reed. So we have booth number 6077 and that's the SIA booth. Then we have the breakfast that is going [00:12:00] to be hosted by the Women in Security, which happens on the last day, Friday, on the bridge stage. So there'll be a box there. And then last but not least, all week long, the SIA Workforce Development Career Zone is going to have a drop box and there'll be ambassadors there as well. So people like myself and other volunteers, other women from the steering committee and men and women from the steering committee will be present to just talk about all of our different committees and the greater purpose of what Women in Security is all about.
Leigh Dow: [00:12:30] How do you decide which nonprofit to partner with to make a difference?
Alice DiSanto: Well, there was an overarching... Just when we started doing research around the Vegas experience, this one just kept popping to the top. And I don't know if you were familiar with Dress for Success, but I certainly was. And just didn't know how each and every chapter operated. And so that one became pretty evident very quickly. What we did with the ISC East [00:13:00] experience, is that it was very proximal. We know that there's really profound statistics around food insecurity, but there's so many people that were converging around the Javits Center for the event where, "We've got to find a soup kitchen that is within walking distance." I mean, it only makes sense because you're passing these people on the streets, and so why not feed who you're seeing? And so that's exactly what we did in that experience, [00:13:30] and that is one of the biggest blessings because once we collect this stuff, I actually am the person or one of the people that has been bringing all of these beautiful things that everybody is contributing and then seeing where it's going. And it just moves you. It's fantastic.
Leigh Dow: What are other communities that you've helped and what has the feedback been?
Alice DiSanto: It's really just these two. We're making sure that we don't spread the committee or the effort too thin. We don't want to have [00:14:00] to go to the well time and time again, to the entire security industry. So we've kept consistency. So it's a local soup kitchen, which we've maintained the same one. And I'm going to butcher the name so it won't say it now, but it is within about four walking blocks of the Javits Center and then Dress for Success.
Leigh Dow: Well, thank you so much for joining us today, Alice, and for giving our audience insight into the SIA Women in Security Forum and all the wonderful causes that you've been involved with. [00:14:30] If you're not attending is ISC West, please consider donating directly to Dress for Success Southern Nevada.
Alice DiSanto: Thank you, Leigh.
Leigh Dow: Of course. And if you've enjoyed this podcast, please like and subscribe for me.
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