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Diversity in Cybersecurity: The Blending of Talent

Responsible for protecting against danger, harm, and invasion in the world of data and technology, Cybersecurity is a sector that is essential to data safety and functionality in the IT space. Cyber professionals fulfill both forward-facing and behind-the-scenes roles, making their skillset and overall existence an absolute necessity in personal and business computing and technology. 

Predictions indicate that the demand for cybersecurity professionals is increasing exponentially. Several factors are affecting this demand, including the heightened number and veracity of cyberattacks, the shift to a remote workforce, and the challenges within securing the home-based working model. Also of increasing realization is that a cultural gap is brewing within the realm of cybersecurity recruitment, and with each year that passes, its impact intensifies.  

Cyber Statistics

When recruiting, it is normal for companies to reference a list of skills and requirements included in a job profile. Hiring is based on the ability to perform that specified skillset. This methodology has proven in the past to provide a strong and viable candidate pool. New employees are seldom selected for their inherent traits – those that exist as a result of who they are and that define character, perspective, and drive.  

Rising in recognition are the noticeable benefits that occur when cyber professionals are hired based on a combination of technical aptitude, personality traits, and cultural influences. Inclusion is gaining attention within the recruitment sector. Hiring a diverse workforce is statistically proving to be of value in areas like company growth, employee attitude, and reputation. For example: 

  1. Diverse and inclusive companies are 35% more likely to outperform their competitors 
  2. Revenue of diverse companies is up 45%, (which is 19% more than their non-diverse competitors)  
  3. Diverse companies are 70% more likely to acquire new markets  
  4. Inclusion boosts overall business results by 60% 
  5. Companies that employ a gender-diverse workforce are 15% more likely to surpass industry median financial returns 

Regarding employing diversity specifically, a September 2022 statistical report gathered by the job search platform Zippia reported the following statistics regarding ethnicity within the Cybersecurity Engineer workspace: 

  • 72.6% are White 
  • 9.1% are Hispanic or Latino 
  • 8% are Black or African American 
  • 7.3% are Asian 
  • 2.6% are Unknown 
  • 0.4% are American Indian and Alaska Native

Techcrunch, an online newspaper forum, attributes the employment gap to a sense of closemindedness in the technology recruitment process. “Education, certifications, years in the role, shared experiences: It is a puzzle made up of a vast number of pieces, many of which are largely irrelevant and limit the talent flowing into organizations to people who fit a certain ‘type’.”  

Inclusion is Essential

The progress made by combining talent that stretches beyond a specific skillset and that offers variations in language, age, culture, upbringing, and perspective is being noted. According to research done by Forbes, cybersecurity will accrue 3.5 million unfilled jobs by 2025. Given the importance of this industry, a void of this magnitude has potential for serious impact.  

Forbes found three main reasons behind the correlation of and disparity in diversity within the Cybersecurity space: 

  1. Minimal access to education and training. Those coming from low-income households have limited opportunity to embark on paths of higher education and certifications. Poverty limits education of and exposure to the industry. 
  2. Minimal availability of mentorships and role models. Offering apprenticeships and options for people to increase their exposure to the tech space is pivotal in learning at the pace that technology evolves. Those lacking guidance and advice also lack progress. 
  3. Systemic Racism. Variations in pay scale based on race contribute to discrimination and are impactful on skill and career advancement. 

Your Cyber Diversity

The integration of diversity within the IT organizational fabric is proving to be a necessary measure for success. It also embraces an altruistic, compassionate approach toward the recruiting process.  

An excerpt from a blog written by the World Economic Forum explains; “Professionals must truly understand the threats while coming up with more robust solutions. To do so, the industry must fix parts of recruitment, retention and leadership development…. What if instead recruiters looked at core traits and then trained and invested in people?” 

Methodologies are forming to help businesses realign their hiring processes to better recognize and recruit talent in the cyber space. They include: 

  • Unfurling the applicant pool. Recruiting beyond a list of skillsets embraces innovation. Companies need to discern critically between what skills must be trained and are considered required, and what can be gained within the walls and processes. Value is found in widening hiring parameters, while considering that which is gained through culture, experience, and diversity. 
  • Fostering industry advancement. We are what our future holds, and that future has vast cultural diversity to contribute to cybersecurity efforts. Combining the tried-and-true with fresh-and-new keeps the industry alive, active, and aware of the threats and challenges that continue to occur.  
  • Being the example. The efforts and influence that businesses have is powerful and can shed light on the minority perspective, offering support, encouragement, and enthusiasm.  
  • Providing the resources. A team becomes a product of the nurturing that is provided. With inclusion, barriers and gaps in language and concepts do occur. Enlisting forums and resources in balance with current abilities provides an effective path toward future goals. In this case, businesses benefit from both worlds – the skillset to perform the job, and the diversity to add to it today and into the future. 
  • Establishing equality. Being an advocate to remove discriminatory barriers and appreciate the diversity of talent and capability is a powerful precedence to set. 

Contributing to a Diverse Foundation

Many of us remember a time when the confidence and support of another provided a trajectory toward professional growth and accomplishment. Through scholastics, careers, and real-world experience, the true resources necessary to succeed are often restrictive to those who are disadvantaged.  

Cayuse believes in realigning the levels of imbalance. The Cayuse motto is ‘Grow the Company, Grow the People’. Through our mentorships, apprenticeships, and community involvement, we focus on our employees, our tribes, our towns, and our future. We foster advancement through continued education, training, and work experience.  

Embracing diversity elicits a uniqueness in talent, thought, ability, and creativity, which impacts processes and encourages success. Encouraging, delivering, and contributing to a diverse workforce is indicative of a business with a future-based mindset, a more communicative work environment, and a well-rounded team.  

Forbes vocalizes that businesses must pay attention to the hiring trend within cybersecurity. “Diversity and inclusion are not just feel-good initiatives. They are essential for protecting a nation’s critical infrastructure. A more diverse and inclusive workforce will help an organization better identify risks and vulnerabilities, learn from past mistakes and develop more effective security protocols.”  

Employing diversity is becoming a major challenge and will continue to impact the cybersecurity sector. Enlisting a workforce that provides a melting pot of perspectives and resources is quickly and statistically proving to be a necessity in recruiting efforts now and into the future.  

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