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HP CISO: Top tips to get more women through the cyber door

HP CISO: Top tips to get more women through the cyber door

Software giant HP recently released a global study on workplace trends, with a particular eye on how women are faring in the new era of work

As a sector, cybersecurity is even less diverse than the wider tech industry, and understanding how to support women and their careers in this space is key in fostering a diverse workforce and attracting talent.

One in three women attempt to smash glass ceiling
The survey found that women remain ambitious, despite difficult circumstances. Thirty percent of women in the US applied for a promotion last year. Among those who applied, men were more successful (52% of men vs. 40% of women). Interestingly, more women in the UK (32%) expressed interest in or applied for a promotion than men (26%).  

Work-life balance appeals over pay packets
Around one-in-six employees across markets are planning to leave their company this year. For those who intend to stay, the ability to manage work and life was the top reason women in the US said they want to stay at their current company. Only 10% of women said they plan to stay at their employer because they have a very competitive compensation package.

Physical workplaces are vital for career advancement
Flexibility may be key to retaining women and minority groups in the workplace, but many believe physical connection is an important mechanism to advance their careers. 

In the US, 30% think a hybrid working model is most beneficial for advancing women and minorities, with another 30% citing an in-person/office model as the most beneficial. Just 17% think a fully remote work model is most beneficial for advancing women and minorities.

HP Inc CISO Joanna Burkey, who is passionate about addressing the diversity gap to break down the barriers to joining the field, told SC Media UK that hiring outside of the typical ‘tech mould’ can build a more resilient, robust cybersecurity team while helping to address the enormous skills gap the industry faces.  

“We've said for years that cybersecurity is a team sport, and that team has to include women. We have the chance to make the cybersecurity tent bigger when it comes to the skills that we bring in, the people we bring in, and how we retain talent,” said Burkey.  

“As an industry, one of the things we need to change is how we talk about our job roles. It can be very obtuse and almost feeling like you need a special handshake if you want to get into the field. Women need to feel like they can fit in, be valued and treated equally.”  

Burkey said harnessing a richer set of skills will make cyber more resilient. A diverse team comprising the full gamut of perspectives is better positioned to solve problems and share information that is so critical to digital defence, she added.

Burkey’s advice for hiring managers

  • Describe cybersecurity roles in ways that will resonate and appeal to applicants instead of using unnecessary jargon.
  • Be intentional about what skills you really need to hire and reflect on what you’re projecting that might be preventing a female demographic from applying.

SC Media's Women In Cybersecurity event is returning for its second year on 4th May. The virtual conference will recognise trailblazing women in the industry and offer a unique platform for innovators to share stories. Find out more and book your place here.

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