More than cosmetic security
Aug 1, 1999 12:00 PM
"Our employees are our greatest asset; therefore, their safety and security is our number one priority," says Robert Littlejohn, vice president of security at cosmetic giant Avon.
Avon - world's leading direct seller of beauty and related products, with $5.2 billion in annual revenues - markets to women in 135 countries through 2.8 million independent sales representatives. Avon also markets an extensive line of fashion jewelry, apparel, gifts and collectibles.
Security manager Rose Shyman handles the day-to-day security operations.
Shyman started at Avon in 1986 as an administrative assistant with the company and worked her way up to her current position. She is responsible for security operations not only at Avon's global headquarters in New York, but also in Eastern Europe, Western Europe and Africa. In addition, she runs the company's Business Information and Intelligence Program and its Due Diligence Program.
The Business Information and Intelligence Program involves executive travel procedures. The Due Diligence Program conducts background checks on individuals seeking employment or other business relationships with Avon.
Avon's access control system, which was put in two years ago when the company moved to its present location, has significantly decreased thefts, according to Shyman.
Schiff & Associates of New York assisted the Avon security department during the design and construction phase, and helped select the vendor: Industrial Security Systems and Controls of Westbury, N.Y. "Because of the relocation time-line and the fact that the company moved from one building to two, the security project required a tremendous coordination effort among our programmers and Avon's security group," says Paul Berger, vice president and general manager of Industrial Security Systems and Controls.
A Casi-Rusco proximity card system incorporates 15 readers in the global headquarters building and 24 readers in the U.S. headquarters building located nearby. Readers are located at all elevator banks, in computer rooms and in freight elevator entrances. The company's retail outlet, located in a third building, also uses the readers.
Thirty-seven CCTV cameras patrol the hallways and elevator banks in both buildings, and a number of cameras also keep a watchful eye on the retail outlet. The cameras monitor concourses, a mail room, internal staircases, computer rooms and freight elevators.
Motion sensors are used after-hours to guard critical locations such as the executive area, reception desks, mail rooms, corridors and the graphics studio. They are also located at all fire exits.
To catch a thief. When necessary, Shyman uses covert cameras that are placed in smoke detectors, book binders and pictures hung on walls. For example, covert cameras have been mounted at the back of a nature picture to peer out of a bird's eye.
The security control room houses Burle multiplexers and Sony color monitors and a Burle VCR. The Morse Watchman Key Watcher, Boss Automatic Guard Tour system, Casi-Rusco Picture Perfect ID system and Portrait Perfect printer are also located within the control room. A Dictaphone system records all conversations directed to the security office and the company reception area.
The Boss Automatic Guard Tour system uses a hand-held data recorder that is carried by the 25 contract security officers. The system records the times that officers reach specific points on their tours.
Officers wear burgundy blazers, gray slacks and leather shoes. Besides receiving the mandated training required by the state of New York, officers also attend training classes three times a year within the security department. Two classes include presentations on CPR and First Aid training, incident reporting crisis management, bomb procedures and how to handle the public. The third class is an awards meeting.
Recently, the security department received a report of several computer-related items such as digital cameras, laptops and CD- ROMs that were missing from employee workstations. A covert camera was installed in the area. The next day another laptop was missing. After reviewing tape from the covert camera, an individual was seen trying to disengage the covert camera within the smoke detector. After being interviewed, he confessed to taking the laptop computer and was arrested and prosecuted.
Of 'shredder' importance. Information protection has received a high priority at Avon's New York headquarters. In the past, Avon has had confidential employee information stolen such as Social Security numbers and dates of birth.
"A number of years ago, when we were in our old location, confidential information fell into the wrong hands," Shyman explains. Because of this, Avon personnel had unauthorized loans including applications for mortgages taken against their names, experienced credit card fraud and even had unauthorized changes of their mailing address.
Shyman and her department deal with this continual problem by providing information and instructions to employees on how to have their names cleared of these false occurrences.
For example,when an employee recently attempted to buy a new home, he found that his mortgage would not go through because there was an illegally made outstanding loan against him. The closing had to be postponed to a later date - while the employee cleared his name through phone calls to banks and credit card companies.
Shyman provided the employee with the needed information, such as who to write and who to call. She also takes personnel who have experienced the problem through a consultation process and instructs them to obtain a credit report periodically to see if it is happening again. "The importance of shredding vital confidential information cannot be stressed enough in this age of electronic communications," she adds.