Diversity is the Secret Weapon that the Cybersecurity Industry Needs

Back Diversity is the Secret Weapon that the Cybersecurity Industry Needs

Have you heard of the Scully effect? I hadn’t until I listened to this podcast episode with Dez Rock, the CEO of a company called SIEMonster. The Scully Effect was a phenomenon where the number of women starting careers in typical STEM (Science / Technology / Engineering / Mathematics) professions saw a noticeable increase following the airing of the X-Files in the early 1990s.

I think this is such a wonderful story and something that I would love to see happen in response to TV shows and films that are in any way related to cybersecurity or the technology industry in general. Having female heroes that young women can relate to, will surely encourage more girls to enter this industry and address the rapidly growing skills gap in this space?

Cybercrime is a growing industry with threats becoming more frequent and sophisticated and cybersecurity vendors and professionals are battling to keep pace with the constantly evolving landscape. There just aren’t enough skills to fully address the threats and security experts are fighting hard to ensure organisations are able to work protected.

Unfortunately, the cybersecurity industry remains male dominated, with most reports indicating only a quarter of women are employed in this space. That means there’s a massive proportion of the population that’s not currently employed in this industry and could be. By encouraging more women to study STEM subjects, we will hopefully attract more into cybersecurity and ultimately make a significant dent in addressing the skills shortage.

Diversity makes good business sense

Beyond the urgency to address the skills shortage, diverse companies also perform better. Having diversity ensures different perspectives are considered, and an inclusive culture means everyone can bring their best and most authentic selves to work, resulting in better performing teams.

As a Latina woman, I’m so glad to have joined a company who understands that to scale and grow, it’s important to attract and retain diverse talent. Mimecast believes that diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) must be at the heart of how we do things. Our employees will thrive in a welcoming, supportive, and engaging environment, enabling them to do their best work, best teamwork and greatest learning.

A couple of years ago Mimecast formalised this commitment by launching a robust DEI strategy to address representation opportunities across our workforce, with a focus on increasing the representation of women and people of colour. Representation targets were established, and we continue to measure progress toward these targets. Our current global workforce is 32% female, and though we’ve made steady progress since launching our strategy, means we still have a long way to go. We have several programs in place that will help us continue to move the needle every year.

Diverse teams build better products

Encouragingly, 35.4% of tech roles at Mimecast are held by women which is a massive 17.5% increase from the previous year! The growth of female representation in tech roles is crucial as we believe that we are better able to serve our customers when we have diverse perspectives working together to build world-class products, to serve the diverse needs of our clients. To combat growing cyber threats, security vendors need to constantly evolve and improve their solutions and diverse perspectives help improve capabilities. Some of the programs we have in place at Mimecast that I believe will have a huge impact on growing and retaining female talent in the company include:

- Employee Resource Groups (ERGs)- employee-led groups that come together based on a shared interest in a specific dimension of diversity, such as ‘Women at Mimecast’. These groups are open to all employees and are built on a philosophy that to build a workplace that works for everyone, everyone must build it together. They help foster empathy, awareness, and psychological safety amongst employees.

- Diversity Recruitment – we have established partnerships with external organisations, including Professional Diversity Network and Circa, to attract and recruit diverse talent. Through these partnerships we connect with diverse community groups and promote Mimecast as an employer of choice. Throughout last year, we attended and hosted over 20 virtual events and experiences with external partners, including WomenTech Network and Resilient Coders, universities and colleges, to share stories about why a career at Mimecast can provide the opportunity for underrepresented groups to grow and develop skills in a culture that cares.

- Future Builders’ Program -members of our ERGs participate in the interview process for roles that are director-level and above. This program sets us up to have a diverse pool of trained interviewers who actively facilitate discussions on our values and assess for inclusive leadership competencies amongst candidates.

In addition, there are numerous training, coaching and learning opportunities for leaders and all employees, which help ensure DEI is being considered in everything we do as a business.

From a channel perspective, our team at Mimecast is filled with talented and inspiring women who are committed to working with our partners to help organisations protect their data, people, and communications. Almost half of Mimecast’s channel team globally (46%) is made up of women and they have been instrumental in leading various strategic initiatives in the organisation. For example, there were several women at the helm in bringing our recently launched Partner ONE program to fruition, and I look forward to seeing their continued work as it rolls out to our partners across the globe.

The gender gap in cybersecurity remains a challenge, but with the right programs and being intentional about getting diverse perspectives to build products and support customers, I believe it’s possible to not only close the gap but improve our chances of winning the cyber war.