Feats of Strength: Letter from Kevin West, CEO of K logix


Read the original article here

View the entire Feats of Strength Magazine here

[poll id="2"]
Putting Aside Assumptions to Recognize and Nurture Talent

It is summer in New England and my two daughters and son love to enjoy these dog days at a local beach. Recently, while digging for clams at low tide, my girls noticed a fearless flyer doing aerial stunts over the ocean. They were amazed by the turns and loops and asked, “Dad how does he do that?” I answered, “How do you know the pilot is a man?” Without missing a beat, the girls both responded in unrehearsed unison that all pilots are men. People make gender-based assumptions every day, and it is obvious these assumptions start at a very young age.

My daughters’ comments on the beach made me realize the limits they will put on themselves if they become part of another generation of girls lost in the gender gap. Will they bow out of opportunities because of assumptions? This is exactly what has happened in Information Technology, and more specifically in Information Security, and may be a big reason why we lack security talent in the marketplace today.

In this issue of Feats of Strength we dive into the topic of both women and minorities in Information Security. With our industry facing nearly -10% under-employment, we examine how to put aside our assumptions about what a security officer should look like. We explore how to widen the pool of candidates, and put aside our assumptions of who is qualified to do the job.

Our Industry Is Growing Faster Than Almost Any Other

A recent survey from Robert Half Technologies found that 85% of CIOs were seeking to expand their security teams with staff that possess a diverse skillset, technical certifications, and the soft skills required for communicating and collaborating with other business units. US News &World Report has listed cyber security as one of its ‘Hot College Majors’ because of high demand in the field, yet only 200 universities are accredited to teach cyber security.

An Early Introduction

Many of the Information Security leaders we have spoken with and profiled, believe we need to introduce more of the digital natives generation (both male and female) to the Information Security industry. Just like educating our own organizations, we need to start by making sure young people are security aware - which is important to their own safety, but also will make them smarter consumers and employees in the future. We need young people to be excited about science, technology, and math, but we also need them to develop the skills necessary to be good investigators, communicators, and collaborators. Young people who are naturally talented at understanding and finding risk should take advantage of this skill and turn it into a security-related career. Several of the leaders we profiled in this issue believe that as an industry we need to commit to partnering with high schools, Boys and Girls Clubs, and other organizations to develop programs that nurture children’s interest in technology and problem solving.

Building a Diverse and Inclusive Workforce

While training at the earliest levels matters, there is much more we could do to ensure we meet demands for highly skilled security professionals. As an industry, we should make opportunities available to the largest possible talent pool. We need to look no further than trade show floors to see that our industry is too homogenous. Plainly, we should do more to involve minorities and women in our ranks. While we feature many strong women in this issue of the magazine, it should be noted that women make up only 28% of the IT workforce, and just 11% in information security. That compares to almost 50% of the total workforce. Minorities are also under represented, with just 6.4% of security professionals identifying as Hispanics and 8.3% as African American, according to the International Consortium of Minority Cyber Security Professionals (ICMSP), an industry organization focused on expanding minority participation in the security industry.

In fact, like IT and Information Security, women are underrepresented in the airline industry, accounting for just 5.4% of all airline pilots. So my daughters’ assumption that the pilot was a man was probably correct. The important thing is they do not let that assumption, based in today’s realities, influence their goals. By the time my daughters are ready to start their careers, my hope is that assumptions will not become limitations, but instead be opportunities to flourish.


    Stay up to date with cyber security trends and more