Diversity is important in cybersecurity because it brings different perspectives and life experiences, enabling broader thinking and better outcomes. In episode 7 of our Security Leaders Perspectives series, industry experts Lamont Orange, CISO at Netskope, and Rohit Agnihotri, Senior Director of IAM at Northwestern Mutual, share advice for women and BIPOC professionals entering the industry, as well as strategies for organizations to actively recruit and support women and BIPOC individuals in order to create a more inclusive and thriving cybersecurity community.
The Importance of Diversity in Cybersecurity
Lamont explains that with the ever-changing landscape of cybersecurity, diverse perspectives and experiences bring new ways of thinking and problem-solving. When a team consists of individuals who have been together for a long time and think alike, they may miss potential vulnerabilities or overlook innovative solutions. Embracing diversity in cybersecurity allows for a broader range of ideas, wider perspectives, and the ability to attract diverse audiences to organizations.
Advice for Women and BIPOC Entering the Industry
Lamont shared valuable advice for women and BIPOC individuals who are entering the cybersecurity industry. He emphasized the importance of seeking both a mentor and a sponsor. These relationships provide a safe space to discuss challenges and ensure that individuals feel included and valued within their teams. Having a mentor and sponsor can position women and BIPOC individuals for success in this industry, offering guidance and support as they navigate unfamiliar territories.
Rohit, another participant in the conversation, encouraged individuals to trust in their strengths and abilities. Acknowledging that it can be challenging to gain recognition in the industry, he emphasized the importance of self-belief and overcoming imposter syndrome. By recognizing their own talents and worth, women and BIPOC professionals can establish a sense of belonging and find allies and support within the industry.
Recruiting More Women and BIPOC Individuals to the Field
When discussing how to recruit more women and BIPOC individuals to the cybersecurity field, Lamont stressed the importance of intentionality. Organizations need to actively seek out and engage with these communities. By going to the places where women and BIPOC individuals are present, organizations can demonstrate their commitment to diversity and inclusion. It is essential to create opportunities and develop strategies to attract and hire more women and BIPOC applicants.
In conclusion, diversity plays a crucial role in cybersecurity. By embracing diverse perspectives, organizations can enhance their problem-solving capabilities, attract a wider audience, and ensure a more inclusive and resilient industry. For individuals entering the field, seeking mentorship, believing in their abilities, and finding allies are key to success. Organizations must actively work towards recruiting and supporting women and BIPOC individuals to create a more diverse and thriving cybersecurity community.