As we write this article, there are over one million workers in cybersecurity in the US. But what’s more interesting is that the number of job listings for cybersecurity-related positions has kept growing for the past few months. In fact, according to CyberSeek, there are 700,000 openings in the United States only.
In other words, the talent gap keeps on getting bigger. And while there might be different reasons behind this, the lack of diversity is one of the most important ones.
A report published by The Aspen Institute estimates that only 4% of cybersecurity workers self-identify as Hispanic, 9% as Black, and 24% as women. But what makes things worse, and proves that this might be the key to closing the gap, is that African-Americans represent 13% of the US population and Hispanics 19%.
So how come such small percentages are part of a field that benefits its workers? On the one hand, the demographics in cybersecurity are mainly represented by white males. On the other, there is a lack of funding options available so that underserved minorities can get the proper training.
Cybersecurity is aching for a more inclusive workforce, but what can we do?
The first thing is for cybersecurity training programs to acknowledge their role in this situation and create different ways to encourage a more diverse population to enroll and create high-wage career opportunities for underrepresented communities.
At CyberWarrior Foundation, we have a partnership with the Department of Homeland Security and CISA to help candidates from the Northeast and Southeast regions of the US with a partial tuition grant that will allow them to kickstart their careers.
Mentorship programs should be included in academies, where qualified professionals guide students and explain what working in cybersecurity is like. This allows them to grasp better the abilities they need to develop, the differences between each career route, and which is the best fit for them. This program might evolve into an apprenticeship option, allowing each student to put their knowledge into practice while increasing their chances of landing full-time employment.
But not all the responsibilities rely on academies and training institutions. Organizations of all sizes have played a part as well.
They need to find ways to increase and, most importantly, retain diverse talent. And by this, we don’t mean adding one or two Hispanics or African-Americans to their staff, but instead creating an environment that makes them feel welcomed. For example, respecting traditions and holidays for each culture, hosting diversity training, and revising their policies to make sure they offer equal growth chances for everyone.
That’s why we believe it’s very important that cybersecurity leaders start focusing more on having an inclusive workforce when hiring talent for their organizations. They should choose their employees based on their ability to do a job, not on the certifications they’ve earned, and offer them the training needed so they can keep on specializing.
Beyond helping their business be recognized as one that promotes diversity, it will boost their team with more perspectives about an issue, different approaches when crafting a solution, and even more experiences and ideas to help them stay ahead of cyber threats.
What other ideas do you have? Please comment and share so we can all help make this a world that understands that our differences only make us stronger.
Challenges and Opportunities: Role Models For Women in Cybersecurity
CyberWarrior is hosting an event called: “Opportunities and Challenges: Role Models for Women in Cybersecurity.” It is an important initiative to bring more diversity and inclusion to the cybersecurity industry. It’s essential to encourage more women to join the field and provide them with the necessary support and resources.
This virtual roundtable discussion on March 30th at noon EST is an excellent opportunity for women to hear from top female professionals about their experiences and insights in the industry. Attendees will learn about the challenges and opportunities for women in cybersecurity and gain valuable advice.
By supporting this event, we can help build a more diverse and inclusive cybersecurity industry, leading to better solutions and a more secure digital world. So don’t miss this chance to learn from other cybersecurity enthusiasts and support women in technology. Register now.