Growth Of Women Leaders In Cyber Provides Promising Trajectory For Industry Diversity
Change Still Doesn’t Go Far Enough, Though Some Companies Already Achieving Parity
Statistics on women in cyber security have been hard to come by with many conversations citing a 2013 Frost & Sullivan research report co-branded by (ISC)2 observing that women make up about 11% of the cyber workforce.
This might be the year when the security sector shifts the discussion from the lack of gender diversity to demonstrating an uptick in women making a difference in security leadership positions. At a minimum, the forecasts to monitor and report on industry change in the workforce are in place.
Recent statistics and predictions for women in cyber include:
- Cybersecurity Ventures predicts that women will represent more than 20% of the global cyber security workforce by the end of 2019
- Forrester predicts that the number of women CISOs at Fortune 500 companies will rise to 20% in 2019, compared with 13% in 2017
- Boardroom Insiders states that 20% of Fortune 500 global chief information officers (CIOs) are now women — the largest percentage ever
- Research from cyber security recruiters BeecherMadden showed that the U.K. cyber security industry was 18% female at the close of 2018
Much has been said about the lack of talent in the cyber security industry, yet half of the population has been underrepresented in cyber careers. Forrester’s recommendations for changing the approach include expanding how the organization searches for talent, identifying other disciplines with relevant skill sets, and making sure that an inclusive culture has been created that will lead to a more diverse industry.
See Related: The Need For Diversity In A Cyber Security Workforce
To benefit from this trend, the research team suggested:
- Implementing targeted hiring goals for women
- Focusing recruiting efforts on groups with more diversity
- Consider women in other technology, compliance, legal, or risk roles as your next potential CISO
- Sustain a culture of acceptance, inclusion, and mentorship to hold on to top talent
“Given that increasing the number of women in cybersecurity is a goal that many companies hold, we should all be pleased that we have started making progress,” stated Karla Reffold, COO and founder of BeecherMadden in a press release. “18% still doesn't go far enough, and while 50% may seem far away, there are some companies at this level already.”
At the RSA Conference USA 2019 held in San Francisco, VP and curator Sandra Toms wrote that 46% of all keynote speakers were women and 32% of overall speakers.
Everyone can help create diversity within the team, observed a cyber and risk leader at our CISO Exchange East 2019 event. Whether looking at growth in employee origin, gender, gender identity or generation, involve HR to check your progress and compare with your desired outcome. By charting out where you see the talent going for a couple of years and showing how proactive you are about their professional growth path, you will get a lot of loyalty in return and the ability to impact peoples’ lives.