Diversity in Cybersecurity: Our Shared Responsibility
This year, to kick off Black History Month, we want to shed light on some very important issues in our national community, as well as the cybersecurity community. It is critical to recognize that as minority communities make up more and more of the US population, the statistics for Black faces in technology and cybersecurity remain low.
There have been many efforts to change this, but most of them come from Black and African technology professionals themselves, instead of there being a true industry-wide push to close the gap in opportunities. One such project came from Twitter. The world of movements that often start with something as simple as a hashtag. Pariss Athena is a Boston-based tech professional and entrepreneur. She began the hashtag, the movement, and the website for #BlackTechPipeline. Black Tech Pipeline (BTP) project is a rebuttal to the common notion or excuse that there is simply a pipeline problem. This commonly used corporate phrase, insinuates that there simply is not enough Black talent in the pipeline or applying for jobs. Hashtags like #BlackTechPipeline and #BlackTechTwitter were born because of a demand that was not being met elsewhere. A quick search of these hashtags will show a plethora of qualified professionals looking for work, as well as job opportunities. This resource is available to any recruiter.
Professionals like Chris Cochran are making space, making opportunities, and making an effort to bridge the divide. Cochran, cybersecurity professional and host of the Hacker Valley Studio podcast, shared his story with me. During his time in Silicon Valley, people often thought that he was an athlete because he was a Black man able to maintain a certain residence and a particular lifestyle. Cochran’s story is common, there are stories and assumptions like this all across the industry.
His message to young men and women who enter the tech world or the cyber world is, “We are here, we exist. You’re not stuck with only entertainers or sports figures. You have people that are in technology, you have people that are in the government now, you have people who are starting their own companies that look just like you. They are great examples of who you can be and take the ball even further than we did.”
In cybersecurity, we understand and accept the cultural norm that security is a shared responsibility. If everyone in the company doesn’t make an effort to secure their machine, their network and their data, then security posture is affected across the board. It seems long overdue that there should be another cultural norm adopted. Diversity in our industry should not just be a labor of love that Black professionals bear the burden of. Diversifying our teams, our leadership and our workforce should also be a shared responsibility. This is our call to action and we hope to embody this spirit as a team at NCSA, not just during this month, but all year long.
To follow up on this kick-off message, NCSA has launched a Black History Month Twitter campaign to highlight Black Tech History. We hope you will join us in a commemoration of this important month and follow us at @staysafeonline.