When it comes to representation of women, the cybersecurity industry has actually improved somewhat in recent years — the percentage of women in the industry jumped from 11% in 2013 to 20% in 2019. Still, 20% is hardly a stat to celebrate, and it’s clear that the security community has a lot more work to do to achieve an equitable workforce.
The theme for International Women’s Day (IWD) this week was #EachForEqual, and the IWD organization is encouraging everyone to celebrate female achievement, raise awareness against bias, and take action for equality. In honor of that and Women’s History Month, Highwire has gathered recommendations for prioritizing diversity and creating more inclusive work environments.
Here are a few ways cyber companies (and all companies!) can join in on #EachForEqual:
1. Establish a Diversity & Inclusion Committee
- At Highwire, we’re proud to not only prioritize diverse hiring, but to have systems in place to educate everyone at the company about various races, sexual orientations, and religions throughout the world. Our D&I committee is dedicated to teaching every employee something new about minorities and global cultures each month, with the goal of creating a more inclusive culture. Committees like this help keep companies accountable for D&I and ensure employees from underrepresented groups feel celebrated and supported.
2. Bring Your Daughter to Work Day
- A new twist on an old tradition, “Bring Your Daughter to Work Day” is a great way to show young girls that they have a place in the cybersecurity industry from an early age and help them understand their freedom to choose whatever career they want. Hosting an all-girl hackathon is also a fun way to cultivate the next generation of cybersecurity pros.
3. Partner with Women and Minority Empowerment Organizations
- Another way to highlight your company’s dedication to diversity and inclusion is by partnering with a nonprofit focused on the same. For instance, the International Consortium of Minority Cybersecurity Professionals strives for the consistent representation of women and minorities in cybersecurity with programs designed to foster recruitment, inclusion, and retention. Encourage your employees to become a mentor in their Mutual Match Mentor-Protégé Program, or host a lunch or dinner for those involved.
4. Implement Unbiased Hiring Solutions and Practices
- There are many systems for bias-free hiring, and it’s important to consider them all to determine what works best for your company’s needs. One option is anonymizing the resumé review process, because even something as simple as removing the name from a resume can reduce bias. A work sample test is a good next step in ensuring the candidate is evaluated on skill instead of gender, race, or another protected class. In addition, having women representation at the c-level and in the boardroom is a great way to attract more junior female candidates.
5. Offer Benefits that Support Women and Families
- If you haven’t already, it’s time to make all employees feel equal through pay equity and benefits such as parental leave and daycare options for those who choose to become parents. These seemingly basic offerings can be the biggest considerations for top candidates.
As Beyoncé once sang, girls run the world…but not the cybersecurity industry just yet. Attracting more women to the industry will take time and commitment from industry leaders. Implementing strategies like the above is a good first step in creating a more equitable cybersecurity workforce.