Opportunities for the organisational security community

Paola Mosso
Madeleine Maxwell

In the context of increasing rates and sophistication of attacks from state and non-state actors, organisational security (orgsec) practitioners offer essential support for many civil society organisations and communities. However, these practitioners are often working independently, without the security and opportunities for learning and development that working for an organisation can provide. As such, practitioner communities (both in-person and online) are playing a growing and important role for many practitioners. 

This year we carried out community research, supported by Internews, with a diverse group of orgsec practitioners. We did desk research, attended and participated in key community spaces and events, and conducted interviews and focus groups with 15 practitioners from different regions and communities, representing a broad range of perspectives and backgrounds.

Our community research helped us to understand some of the barriers that prevent practitioners from engaging with and benefiting from such community spaces. We’ve summarised our findings below. If you’d like to see the full report, please get in touch–you will find contact information at the bottom of this post!

Our Findings

We found that community spaces are valuable for orgsec practitioners in two main ways:

  1. In allowing people to form and strengthen connections, practitioners can become more resilient as individuals and as a community. 
  2. Participating in community spaces also allows practitioners to learn and grow, through collaborating, and sharing knowledge and skills. This is particularly valuable for practitioners working independently. 

We also identified two major barriers to participating in community spaces

  1. Regional power disparities make it harder for practitioners to access community spaces. For example, funding is concentrated in the “Global North”, and the dominant language of many spaces and resources is English, making it harder for non-English speaking practitioners and those based in under-resourced regions. 
  2. An absence of trust is also a significant barrier to participation. For practitioners to feel comfortable and confident in participating, they need to trust both the membership and the leaders of the community space. 

If you would like to read a full report of our findings, check out the contact info at the bottom of this post.

What next? Orgsec community–we need your feedback!

In the next phase of this project, we will be updating and supporting two online community spaces: the orgsec.community listserv and the wiki/community hub. We identified five guiding principles to ensure these spaces are inclusive and useful for a wider group of orgsec practitioners:

  1. Orgsec.community spaces are community-owned and led
  2. Orgsec.community spaces are facilitated by a rotating group of individuals who are supported to play this role
  3. Orgsec.community resources are translated 
  4. Orgsec.community spaces have a code of conduct that includes the community’s shared values, boundaries and practices
  5. Orgsec.community spaces prioritise the needs of practitioners who are currently under-served by current systems of support

We will be engaging with practitioners to explore which opportunities resonate most and what they can look like in practice. If you have experiences or ideas to share and would like to be involved, please get in touch with Paola (paola@theengineroom.org) or Madeleine (madeleine@theengineroom.org

Photo credit: Zdeněk Macháček.

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