Diversity is top of mind for many employers today, but has always been something very close to my heart. As an Indian Hindu woman, wife, mother of two, and first-generation immigrant STEM major, I represent many cultural differences. My upbringing has taught me to recognize and respect the importance of having differences, whether that be ethnicity, gender, age, race, religion, disability, or sexual orientation. But that also means embracing individual unique characteristics like communication or work styles, educational backgrounds, personalities, and more.
On Wednesday, August 4, 2021, I had the opportunity to join hands with some of the most inspiring thought leaders in the cybersecurity industry at Black Hat to discuss the importance of recruiting diverse privacy and infosec teams, including:
- Elena Elkina — Co-founder and board member of Women in Security and Privacy (WISP) and a Partner at Aleada Consulting
- Dr. Chenxi Wang — Founder and General Partner of Rain Capital
- Lauren Zabierek — Executive Director of the Cyber Project at Harvard Kennedy School’s Belfer Center
- Rich Noguera — CISO at AppDynamics
Here are some key takeaways from the discussion that all organizations should use to improve their diversity recruiting:
- Build a diverse leadership team and interview panels
- Avoid using gender-specific words and focus on must-haves when writing job descriptions
- Expand your pipeline and rethink traditional recruiting avenues by looking beyond brand-name schools
- Invest in junior hires and help them grow to succeed
- Establish a structured interview process where all candidates are asked the same, unbiased, questions during their interviews
Lastly, don’t stop at hiring and onboarding for sustained success – focus on long-term inclusion and advancement to boost team morale. Continued celebration of differences, cultivation of diverse thoughts, and career growth opportunities can help your teams increase productivity.
Diversity in a workplace fuels innovation. With different viewpoints, experiences and ideas, this can help companies collectively march towards a singular goal. It also helps us learn from each other and teaches us new ways of doing things, which can lead to better problem-solving skills and a more productive workplace.
Note that mixing of differing perspectives and opinions won’t always be frictionless. Different ways of thinking can create conflict, particularly during ideation and feedback loops. By giving all parties an equal chance to share their thoughts and allowing multiple communication methods to be used, companies can help manage and minimize conflict.
Numerous industries face challenges in hiring diverse candidates, and cybersecurity is amongst the most notable. Although investing in diversity focused recruiting can incur additional costs, it’s an investment with undeniable long-term rewards.