Growing Cybersecurity Demand Opportunity to Create More Racially Inclusive Workforce
African Americans make up only 9.2% of cybersecurity analysts.1 This lack of representation is not merely unfortunate, it presents multiple issues in terms of creating effective security protocols and addressing critical vulnerabilities. David Lee, and expert on identity access management and founder of The Identity Jedi, explains, “We live in a world where tech is intertwined in everything we do. In order to create products that serve all people, we need to make sure that we have all people building those products.”
The value behind bridging the diversity gap
Diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) has become a hot topic in all industries, with research indicating how these initiatives can improve a company’s performance and outcomes. Companies that reported above-average diversity on their management teams also reported innovation revenue that was 19% higher than that of companies with below-average leadership diversity—45% of total revenue versus just 26%.2
Other benefits to DEI for organizations include greater cash flow and the ability to capture new markets as well as increased profitability. Studies have found 2.3 times higher cash flow than those of companies with more monolithic staff.3 Diverse organizations are also 70% more likely to capture new markets than companies that do not incorporate under-represented groups in their recruitment processes.4 Finally, a 1% increase in racial diversity similarity between upper and lower management increases firm productivity by between $729 and $1,590 per employee per year.5
The first step in bridging the diversity gap is to develop representation. As Lee says, “There are a million ways to accomplish something in tech. The more diverse perspective you have, the stronger product you get. Tech is used by everyone, so it should be created by a representation of everyone.”
He challenges organizations to:
- Actually want to solve the problem. If an organization doesn’t really care, then it will show in their efforts and results.
- Talk to current Black employees and create a safe space for them to talk about their experience.
- Engage with the local community, from historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) to Black tech organizations such as Cyversity, NSBE and ACM, among others, and connect talent departments to these pipelines.
Become intentional about diversity, equity and inclusion
Lee finds that having an intentional DE&I program helps bring awareness and representation to the field of cybersecurity. “Organizations need to engage with HBCU’s,” he advises “Connect with their computer science and engineering departments to host events and provide pathways to connect with candidates.”
Other ways that cybersecurity companies or any organization can boost their employee diversity include creating a safe space for workers to connect with their co-workers and embrace their culture via employee resource groups. Offering leadership training on bias that includes open and intentional conversations with company leaders about bias can also be beneficial.
Lee's firsthand experiences as a Black professional within the technology industry inspired him to write "The Only One in the Room: The Unwritten Laws of Being Black in Tech." The book shares the challenges he and other African Americans have faced in that sector, in addition to drawing attention to the importance of representation and diversity in reshaping the industry.
Lee concludes, “Representation absolutely matters, and the best way to promote diversity is to SHOW diversity in your organization by including your diverse workforce in the public facing aspects of your company. Not to show it off as a shiny toy, but to show your workforce and how they interact.”
About The Identity Jedi
David Lee transitioned from a software engineering background to become a harbinger of change and inclusivity in the tech world. With over two decades of experience, he has left his mark on government agencies, Fortune 500 companies, and numerous fields, specializing in identity and access management. Recognizing that for technology to truly transform the world, it must embrace diversity, David serves as an agent of transformation, inspiring individuals to unlock their full potential. His influential voice and actionable insights have solidified his reputation as a respected figure in the ever-evolving tech landscape. When he speaks people listen. He is The Identity Jedi. www.theidentityjedi.com
- “Cyber Security Analyst demographics and statistics in the US”; Zippia; Accessed October 26, 2023; zippia.com/cyber-security-analyst-jobs/demographics/.
- Rocío Lorenzo, Nicole Voigt, Miki Tsusaka, Matt Krentz, and Katie Abouzahr; “How Diverse Leadership Teams Boost Innovation”; January 23, 2018; Boston Consulting Group; bcg.com/publications/2018/how-diverse-leadership-teams-boost-innovation.
- Reiners, Bailey; “50 Diversity in the Workplace Statistics to Know”; Built in; updated March 28, 2023; builtin.com/diversity-inclusion/diversity-in-the-workplace-statistics#0.
- Sylvia Ann Hewlett, Melinda Marshall, Laura Sherbin; “How Diversity Can Drive Innovation”; Harvard Business Review; December 2013; hbr.org/2013/12/how-diversity-can-drive-innovation.
- Lauren Turner, Maya Fischhoff; “How Diversity Increases Productivity”; Network for Business Sustainability; January 19, 2021; nbs.net/how-diversity-increases-productivity/.
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