The cybersecurity landscape is, traditionally, not really diverse. But, it certainly demands more diversity, and preferably, more women.
In 2019, only 20% of the workforce from the cyber security industry comprised of women, and people of color represented even lower. So why isn’t the cyber security realm more welcoming and accommodating?
As hackers become more inventive and sophisticated, cyber teams need to stay aware and ahead of the game with more creative strategies, diverse ideas, out of the box problem-solving skills. However, it’s challenging to achieve this if the team is from a similar background with common experiences. Being more diverse will allow enterprises to cover more bases when it comes to threat attack vectors.
Cloverpop revealed that teams who practice an inclusive decision-making process, having input from a varied range of people, make decisions twice faster with much better results by up to 60%. So, to tackle the emerging threats from as diverse angles as possible, a wider range of educational and linguistic backgrounds, varied neurodiversity, and greater ethnic diversity is preferable.
So how can companies work towards making the security teams more diverse?
Drifting away from traditional hiring methods
Employees who are ‘qualified’ technically in cyber security courses tick certain boxes, but they are mostly theory-based, requiring minimum demonstration of real-world skills. Instead of looking for specific qualifications and toolsets for entry-level positions, the skills that matter are intellect and motivation.
Instead of the CV, the real traits to look for should be focused on personality, aptitude, and potential, and not pre-existing hard skills. Most importantly, the willingness to learn new skills and abilities.
Hire from diverse backgrounds
These desirable qualities can be identified in all manner of people, not just technical graduates, so it’s important to seek alternative channels to find the most suitable candidates. The Telegraph reported that the Armed Forces are recruiting personnel with “very different skill sets,” considering cyber warfare, which is getting increasingly prevalent. Recruits will no longer need to fit certain body types or fitness tests, as the Forces will encourage diversity among a workforce that deals with over 1800 cyber-attacks a month.
The same goes for neurodivergent individuals seeking to pursue a career in cyber security. This is open to all within the neurodivergent community, as the practical-learning environment allows one to develop skills while hosting job opportunities from global clients focusing on welcoming them into their businesses.
It is important to look beyond what is considered as traditional experience or background. Paying attention to career changers is crucial to bring different types of perspectives and experiences to the table.
Identify hidden talent within the existing workforce
A company needs varied types and manners of people and expertise to function seamlessly. For this reason, it’s recommended opening up cyber skills training content for all the staff – and not just the IT employees. There will be a wealth of transferable skills already existing within the team, whether that’s resourcefulness, communication, a competitive edge, or just simple quick thinking.
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Set up a Diversity and Inclusion group
Skills that are acquired by differing life experiences from people across diverse backgrounds are always more preferable. Companies can invest time into a Diversity and Inclusion working group in order to brainstorm ideas and action changes in the company to improve understanding of complicated issues and allow people to feel safer or more included.
With volunteers from each corner of the organization – including engineers, marketing, sales, finance, developers, HR, and C-suites – could be the best way to recruit diverse talent. Improving the hiring policies and methods, fixing outdated language and adopting innovative outreach opportunities to inspire candidates from diverse backgrounds, will then follow. Undertaking surveys of the staff, and generally trying to be more accessible to create a safe space for everyone – will then, just get much easier.