Cybersecurity is struggling with diversity, but workers say mentorships could help
- While minority representation within the cybersecurity field is slightly higher than the overall workforce, racial and ethnic minorities tend to hold non-managerial positions, and pay discrepancies, especially for minority women, are present, according to a new report, Innovation Through Inclusion: The Multicultural Cybersecurity Workforce.
- The report, published by the International Information System Security Certification Consortium, also known as (ISC)², found that cybersecurity professionals of color earn, on average, $115,000 a year, compared with a $122,000 industry average. In addition, whites in cybersecurity are more likely to receive a salary increase in the past year than those of other races and ethnicities.
- The under-participation by large segments of our society represents a loss of talent in the workforce and a loss of creativity in shaping the future of cybersecurity, said International Consortium of Minority Cybersecurity Professionals (ICMCP) President Aric K. Perminter in a statement. To foster diversity in the workplace, 49% of minority cybersecurity professionals said mentorship programs are very important.
Difficulties implementing diversity and inclusion efforts can't be blamed on the pipeline, experts say. Professional organizations, like ICMCP, can be good places to begin a candidate search and create a talent pool from which to draw future candidates.
Employers also are increasingly taking steps to ensure pay equity, and to reduce the effect of bias in the workplace for current employees. Some are performing compensation audits and correcting pay as needed; others have adopted "promotion flagging" processes.
Mentorships have a place in diversity and inclusion initiatives, too, as the workers surveyed for the (ISC)² report noted. In a separate survey by executive search firm Heidrick & Struggles, women and ethnic minorities reported that formal mentoring was especially valuable to their careers. Sponsorships, where people of influence recommend others for opportunities, also can serve as a important part of an inclusion program.
And all of these efforts are more than attempts at legal compliance; as Perminter noted, employers are finding that diversity can have significant benefits for a business' bottom line.