Cybersecurity Matters: Changing the Narrative of Cybersecurity Professionals
By Krystal Rennie / Adlumin, Inc.
As we continue our National Cybersecurity Awareness Month journey, the third week’s theme focuses on cybersecurity career awareness. The industry is a hub of skills, experience, backgrounds, and perspectives. While there has been much progress with changing the face of cybersecurity professionals and their career goals, it is evident that there is still much progress to be made. A recent ZD article states the following stats: Over 85% of individuals working in cybersecurity are white, while under 15% of those working in cybersecurity are Black, Asian, or other mixed ethnic groups. Additionally, 2/3 of the industry are male, while only 31% of the industry are female.
Additionally, according to Cybersecurity Ventures, “Over the eight-year period tracked, the number of unfilled cybersecurity jobs is expected to grow by 350 percent, from one million positions in 2013 to 3.5 million in 2021. And of the candidates who are applying for these positions, fewer than one in four are even qualified, according to the MIT Technology Review.”
Cybersecurity has become one of the most fast-paced and in-demand industries over the past year. As a result, with greater demand comes greater responsibility. Diversifying experiences and skillsets is the most significant way to anticipate what the future of cybersecurity looks like. This blog will explore why redefining cybersecurity careers can benefit the future of the industry.
Embracing Differences Make Us Stronger
In a past blog post, we discussed the cybersecurity skills gap and what factors influenced these skills gaps. Cybersecurity professionals have multiple hills to climb, from lack of resources to education. It isn’t easy learning how to enter and navigate themselves within the field.
The global pandemic has taught us many things, but most of all, it has taught us how much our society relies on technology. With this heavy reliance comes the need to anticipate different types of cyber threats. To thoroughly do so, we need a more comprehensive understanding of the vulnerabilities that businesses and individuals face. So, what better way to discover these roadblocks than diversify the professionals studying, experiencing, and working in the industry? Every individual brings different perspectives, needs, ideas, and solutions. The true power lies in embracing those differences and prioritizing them within your security teams.
The Power of Investing in Professionals
If we are going to have a chance at changing the narrative and create thriving cybersecurity careers, companies need to invest in their employees. Here are a few tips to consider:
- Seek Partnerships: Partner with community organizations, high schools, and non-profit businesses to bring IT programs to minority students and individuals seeking to learn more about the industry. This will create access to resources that offer support and industry knowledge to diverse candidates as they prepare to enter the cybersecurity field at different stages. Providing resources to those who might not have direct access is a prominent way to expand an IT professional’s experiences and skillsets.
- Offer Training Programs: Invest in programs that will keep your employees updated on the latest cybersecurity skills, threats, and tools. Offering certificate programs or other incentives for completed trainings will encourage them to participate.
- Review Job Descriptions: When writing job descriptions, really consider what skill sets are needed for a professional to thrive in the role entirely. Setting realistic expectations for different job levels is the best way to ensure that opportunities are available to rookies and vets, regardless of background or experience.
Accessibility and education are vital pieces of the puzzle to consider when creating a more inclusive industry of high-functioning IT professionals. While the three tips above are not a complete solution, they are a great place to start. Let’s remember: the most significant change always begins internally, and once the groundwork is laid, the external results reflect the process. To change the narrative, we all must change ourselves, thoughts, ideas, and perceptions and think of the bigger picture. After all, baby steps are still steps.