Each first Thursday of the month is a new installment in Stronger’s 2019 Cybersecurity Jobs Outlook Series. This month, Stronger looks at how to attract and retain women in tech, which is also how to attract and retain the best talent in tech.
Across the industry, CISO’s top challenges are “budget, talent, and increasing cyber threats.” Even though there are 2.8 million professionals working in cybersecurity around the globe, an additional 4 million trained workers will be needed to close the skills gap and properly defend organizations, according to the 2019 ISC2 Cyber Security Workforce Study. The same report states that more than 65% of organizations report a current cybersecurity staff shortage.
Talent retention is an issue due to increasing cyberattacks, growing levels of burnout, and the competitive market which allows talent to change jobs almost at will. Add to it that another survey recently published that cybersecurity professionals reported “lower levels of job satisfaction,” with 40% indicating they are actively job searching. The top reasons for changing jobs included poor compensation and unsupportive leadership.
None of this is news. Nor is it news that more than 90% of the survey’s respondents were male — which is an increase from the 2018 survey results. What is concerning is that the results reinforce cybersecurity’s growing gender gap.
Despite reports that the number of women in cybersecurity has risen, the number is unchanged. What has changed is how the number is calculated. In an industry that is suffering from such a large skills gap and is in need of increased diversity, why aren’t there more women in cybersecurity and how can the industry attract more?
Why Aren’t There More Women in Cyber
According to research published in the Harvard Business Journal, companies send out signals that either attract or alienate women. Among the things that women notice are:
• How many women and people of color are in leadership roles?
• How do job posts describe the ideal candidate or position? Is the “imagery associated with me, fighting, and aggression”?
• Because female candidates have to work harder to be seen as equally qualified as a male candidate and often “must prove their abilities to be hired or promoted (i.e., must have exact experience in a similar role), while men are often promoted based on their potential” — they will notice whether the company provide opportunities to grow their abilities and update skills.
• Finally, they will look for whether there are opportunities for development and mentorship, as well as how that is nurtured and encouraged.
“Companies that signal a culture where people are valued and developed are more likely to attract women candidates — and retain them.” But this is not just true for female employees, it also goes for male employees.
How to Increase The Number Of Women in Cyber
A recent Capitol One study which surveyed 450 women in tech reported 5 policies to help attract and retain women in tech.
- Offer “challenging and rewarding work” that provides opportunities for advancement.
- Ensure training is available at the right stage in their careers.
- Pay attention to work-life balance and equal compensation.
- Encourage social connections like mentorship and peer networks.
- Support employees in finding their sense of purpose.
Men want these things too. What women want at work is no different than what men want at work. “Unfortunately, it is the external environmental factors, like not having management support or fair pay that end up being the cause of so many women leaving the industry,” said Julie Elberfeld, a Senior Vice President at Capital One.
If companies create an environment that is good, employees will stay — be they men or women. Maintaining a healthy corporate culture benefits everyone. Creating opportunity, providing training at appropriate opportunities, helping maintain work-life balance, and having supportive management creates good teams and keeps employees happy and engaged — which keeps customers happy. If your company offers growth potential and shows female role models at leadership levels, you will maximize your ability to attract and retain the best female and male technologists available.
This is an important topic to us at Stronger. Training is at the heart of all our offerings. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or 1-877-810-7898 to talk about your needs or concerns and to find out how we can help your company be stronger, more prepared, and better trained.