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Less Talk, More Action: Advancing a Diverse Security Industry

The security industry has seen great change over the last decade as a wide variety of ethnic, racial, and gender backgrounds have emerged into various security roles. While we can all feel this shift, women only make up an estimated 10% - 20% of the security industry, depending on which survey or article you reference. And minorities in security leadership positions are so rare that it’s difficult to find accurate, measurable statistics.

The jobs are there, where are the candidates

Threat intelligence company, Digital Shadows, highlighted some of the industry challenges in a blog post titled “Women In Security: Where We Are And Where We Need To Go”… According to a study from the “Center for Cyber Safety and Education,” there is a gap of 1.8 million unfilled cybersecurity jobs in 2022. A push for women to enter the security workforce would not only aid in closing this, but businesses with a more even distribution of men and women have seen up to a 41 percent increase in revenue. Korn Ferry predicts a global talent shortage of over 85.2 million people by 2030. In the U.S. alone, that’s $1.75 trillion in unrealized annual revenue.

With numbers as significant as this, companies need to get serious about the ethnic, racial, and gender backgrounds of their workforce if they want to attract and retain top talent. Especially when over 86% of job seekers say workplace diversity is an essential factor when looking for a job.

The benefits of diversity are a no-brainer

There are countless studies demonstrating the financial and cultural benefits of a diverse workforce. And while many U.S. businesses are on board, the security departments of those organizations frequently struggle to match the cultural makeup of the general population of their workforce. Here are some stats that matter…

“Having a more diverse set of employees means you have a more diverse set of skills,” says Sara Ellison, an MIT economist, which “could result in an office that functions better.”

“Organizations with above-average gender diversity and levels of employee engagement outperform companies with below-average diversity and engagement by 46% to 58%. (Fast Company)”

“Research shows that diversity and inclusion in the workplace creates more employee engagement…” (Deloitte’s Global Human Capital), and Best Buy found that a 0.1% increase in employee engagement at a particular store was worth $100,000 to the company.

Companies with higher-than-average diversity had 19% higher innovation revenues and 9% points higher EBIT margins. (Harvard Business Review)

The State Department’s Overseas Security Advisory Committee’s Women in Security (OSAC WiS) Common Interest Committee is focused on diversifying the face of leadership in security organizations. Bridget Guerrero, Chair Emeritus of the committee, explains it this way, “We believe strong security organizations are those that represent the organizations and clients they serve. At WiS, we bring men and women, new and experienced security practitioners, together to share best practices, network, and share. When young professionals spend time learning with mentors serving in very senior roles, we believe it helps them build confidence that they can also serve in very senior roles as they move through their careers. In the end, it’s a win-win for everyone.”

Entrepreneurial imbalance in the Security Industry

Stat: “Women-led startups received just 2.3% of venture capital funding in 2020. When it comes to minority women starting their own businesses, the data is even more dismal. Yet female founders generated 35% higher return on investment than their male counterparts,” and workplaces with more gender diversity see higher customer satisfaction, productivity, and profitability. So it seems counterintuitive, when women-led startups do get funded, they’re more likely to be successful, and they tend to drive higher revenue, a Boston Consulting Group analysis found.

Progress is being made throughout the U.S. according to the 2020 Annual Business Survey by the US Census, nearly 20% (1.1 million) of U.S. employer businesses were minority-owned, and the same amount (1.2 million) of businesses were owned by women for a combined 40% of businesses in the US.

The security industry is taking note of the benefits of a diverse workforce. Many companies are acting on DE&I initiatives when hiring managers, directors, and leaders across the security organization. This will eventually lead to more women and minorities starting their own businesses as they follow the natural path of the retiring CSO or Global Security Director who ventures out on their own after a long-tenured career.

Today, we’re way behind the curve. If you’re seeking to engage a minority or women-owned consulting company, security provider, or freelance expert, your options are limited.

Embracing Diversity into the Culture of Security

Adam Corn, the current Director of Security of GoFundMe, expressed that the security industry will be largely remiss if it continues to fall short in embracing Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion initiatives.

In an interview, Adam explained the following. “One of the greatest challenges we all face as security professionals involves daily complex problem-solving and a sensitive understanding of human behaviors as they relate to safety and security events and incidents. To create, develop, and implement truly effective security solutions and programs, it is imperative that security organizations tackle all their challenges through a lens that is created by a diverse and inclusive security team.”

To truly institute proactive security programs and mitigate the risks we commonly face, we simply cannot afford to base our actions solely on one type of perspective. Rather, today’s security environment demands that we be more prudent and make sure that all our safety and security actions have a foundation in several different perspectives. This can only be done by having a truly diverse and inclusive security organization that gives all its members a voice as it proceeds with its mission which is to ensure a safe and secure work environment for everyone.

Conclusion: Less Talk, More Action

It’s not hard to find LinkedIn posts, articles, comments, and committees on diversity and inclusion, but what is really being done? There's a big difference between being enthusiastic about change and putting processes into motion to make an impact. It’s time to move the needle and put words into action. Discussions and committees are great, but there needs to be tangible steps taken for a diverse security workplace to be a reality. Let’s create a marketplace of talent, a pool of diversity, and a landing pad for fresh ideas. And move forward by engaging minority and women-owned businesses. There’s talent everywhere; it just may not be in the places we’re accustomed to looking.

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Effortlo is a technology-enabled solution that helps companies operate a lean and efficient security program by providing effortless access to a wide range of global security experts with one agreement and one payment. With transparent pricing and a hassle-free (Airbnb-like), model, effortlo allows customers to work directly with security experts to expand their capabilities, meet deadlines, and stay within budget. We're also the only platform enabling any validated security expert to discreetly promote their skills and expertise to the greater security community.


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