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Strengthening Your Cyber Function Through Diversity

Strengthening your Cyber Function Through Diversity

As cyber-attacks increase in scale and severity, so too does the global demand for Cyber Security professionals – in all aspects of the field and across all sectors. Demand continues to far outweigh the perceived supply, resulting in an acute talent shortage.

The talent gap has been an ongoing challenge in Cyber Security for a long time. But cyber security is such a multi-disciplinary and inter-disciplinary practice, that people from all different specialties, and backgrounds (including non-technical backgrounds), can contribute. So, is there really a talent gap, or are businesses unnecessarily narrowing down hiring options?

Here is a quick overview on how diversity can grow and strengthen cyber functions to prepare for increasing threats in 2022 and beyond.

The Cyber Security Landscape

Currently, the cyber security industry is significantly lacking in diversity. Here is a brief snapshot of some aspects of diversity in cyber according to a recent NCSC survey. 

Benefits of Diversity in Cyber Security

Homogeneity in cyber security can cause huge issues. The absence of diversity at all levels in cyber security makes things such as identifying & addressing threats, innovating and meaningfully collaborating with partners, much harder. Cyber security systems often require multiple data components and various users performing tasks. The way data is collected can impact the information that is shared across people, processes, and technologies. Those in cyber security teams naturally have to predict behaviour patterns in order to identify and address potential weaknesses and vulnerabilities. In order to do this, cyber security professionals often have to rely on assumptions.

Assumptions can be dangerous and sometimes result in cyber professionals overlooking critical weaknesses. A more diverse cyber team can bring a rich and varied range of experience and backgrounds, which encourages diversity of thought and new ideas and perspectives. Improving diversity can help improve online defences because it will enable information security teams to consider – and defend against – concepts, behaviours, and attacks they may not have considered before.

A cyber team which is more prepared to identify and defend against a wider range of attacks is clearly beneficial. In addition to this, teams with more diversity have the following benefits:

  • Diverse companies are 25% more likely to see above average profitability [Source]
  • Diverse teams solve problems 60% faster and are 83% more innovative [Source 1, Source 2, Source 3]
  • 54% of women and 45% of men research a company’s D&I policy before accepting an offer [Source]
  • A wider talent pool means it’s easier to hire in a competitive market
  • Increased employee engagement and trust
  • Increased emotional intelligence and more meaningful collaboration

How to Increase Diversity in Cyber Teams

Whilst the pathway to improving cyber security diversity is complex and potentially long, there are some basic and clear steps that businesses can take to implement tangible D&I practices and policies.

  1. Change the definition of qualified: ensure your job adverts are only asking for the skills and experiences that are critical for the role. Challenge and question requirements around length of experience and formal education, and instead consider those from bootcamps, non-university courses, and self-taught. There’s also the option to hire based on future potential and character (what can you train internally?)
  2. Avoid biased language choices: ensure all job titles and pronouns in the job advert is gender-neutral and avoid loaded language that may exclude people from applying. An example would be to use Businessperson instead of businessman. How you describe the role and environment is also important. Descriptions that focus on competitiveness often appeals more to men, and roles that describe working culture as “work hard / play hard” often exclude older candidates.
  3. Have a diverse interview panel: When bringing in candidates to interview, make sure you have a panel that is, in itself, diverse. This avoids hiring managers from just hiring more people that are like themselves.
  4. Build inclusivity first: Before you increase your diversity, you need to ensure your working environment is inclusive first. This means ensuring your work environment is enabling, welcoming, and fit for purpose for everyone.
  5. Prioritise retention: It’s okay hiring people, but staff retention and minimising turnover is also key. Ensure you are taking steps to improve or maintain high employee morale, giving all employees the opportunities to develop and progress as they wish, and making sure your work environment is positive for everyone.

These steps might take time to really dive into and implement, but the long-term benefits of having an inclusive environment that welcomes and attracts diverse candidates is more than worth it.

Building More Diverse Cyber Security Teams for 2022

Diversity within cyber security teams has a wide range of benefits. As well as being morally and ethically, the right thing to do, it boosts profitability, staff retention, decision making, and innovation. In cyber security specifically, diverse teams are better aware of and able to identify a wider range of potential issues and vulnerabilities as they are more likely to consider different behaviours and possibilities.

If you’re looking to build a more diverse and effective cyber security team for 2022, reach out to me directly for a free, confidential chat about how Maxwell Bond can support you in attracting, hiring, and retaining top cyber talent, with our award-winning, bespoke staffing solutions.

Reach out to me today.

Alternatively, if you’re searching for your next role in cyber security, you can browse our current vacancies online.