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Black Hat to Host Discussion on Diversity

Panel of diversity pioneers will share their views and firsthand experience on how to make inclusion a priority in security.

It's obvious cybersecurity has a diversity problem: just one-tenth of today's cybersecurity workforce are minorities, and the the number of women has basically plateaued for the past few years at a meager 11%. 

Meanwhile, organizations struggle to fill positions on their security teams due to the well-documented talent gap.

The good news, however, is that some major companies and organizations are proactively working on creating a more diverse industry. They're working on recruiting and retaining more women, minorities, and LGBTQIA security talent in order to create a more diverse and well-rounded profession.

That requires creating a culture of embracing, respecting, and understanding diversity of race, nationality, religion, gender, and gender identity. It also involves a culture of inclusiveness, a concept that plays into the retention side of the equation. Just hiring women and minorities doesn't necessarily equal diversity: the key is making them feel empowered and supported in their careers. Without that, their chances of staying in their jobs, or even the industry overall, is slim.

Those are just some of the topics we'll explore in-depth during the "Making Diversity a Priority" panel discussion on July 26 at 3 p.m. PT during the Black Hat USA conference in Las Vegas. I'll be moderating an accomplished – and diverse – panel of security leaders who are pioneering diversity efforts and programs both within their organizations and throughout the industry, as they foster and support new talent.

We'll look at real-world and first-hand efforts to establish diversity in security, as well as just how organizations can build a more diverse security team and create a culture of inclusion.

Here's a sneak-peek at the distinguished panelists who will share their insights:

Aubrey Blanche, global head of diversity and inclusion for software firm Atlassian, as her title suggests works on diversity issues on a daily basis. Blanche will share her experience in establishing a diversity program that emphasizes the all-important element of inclusion.

Juliet Okafor is chair and strategic advisory board member for the International Consortium of Minority Cybersecurity Professionals, which among other things provides job placement programs and apprenticeships for minorities and women. Okafor has worked on programs that extend these opportunities for underrepresented groups.

Anthony Johnson, who is JP Morgan Chase & Co.'s managing director of corporate & investment bank information security, will share what a well-established diversity program looks like: JP Morgan Chase's Johnson also is focused on outreach and strategies for filling the job pipeline with more diverse candidates.

Rick Howard, CISO at Palo Alto Networks and an advocate for diversity, recently worked in conjunction with the University of Alabama at Birmingham to introduce security to high schoolers with a Capture the Flag program that provides scholarship money. Howard brings to the diversity conversation the perspective of a security vendor.

That's just a snippet of the expertise and experience these panelists will share. If you'll be in Vegas for Black Hat USA, join us for this important and timely panel discussion, from 3-4 p.m. Pacific Time, in Banyan ABC at Mandalay Bay. the discussion will be followed by a Q&A session and an information networking reception on-site. There's no registration required for this special event within Black Hat USA, which also is offering other diversity-related events during the week there.

Related Content:

Black Hat USA returns to the fabulous Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, Nevada, July 22-27, 2017. Click for information on the conference schedule and to register.

Kelly Jackson Higgins is Executive Editor at DarkReading.com. She is an award-winning veteran technology and business journalist with more than two decades of experience in reporting and editing for various publications, including Network Computing, Secure Enterprise ... View Full Bio
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KlatnuV505
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KlatnuV505,
User Rank: Apprentice
7/14/2017 | 5:55:00 PM
Missing something
I am somehow missing how this is different from any other employee.  Every employee requires certain things beyond a pay envelope.  
ERechts
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ERechts,
User Rank: Apprentice
7/17/2017 | 12:18:44 PM
Ridiculous article, ridiculous symposium
So the newest and fastest moving growth industry in tech lacks proportional minority involvement, and this constitutes a crisis?

I'm impressed by how quickly someone found a profitable career raising "awareness" of the resultant trend of useless college majors that cater to identity politics instead of practical insdustrial demands
Kelly Jackson Higgins
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Kelly Jackson Higgins,
User Rank: Strategist
7/18/2017 | 9:15:34 AM
Re: Ridiculous article, ridiculous symposium
I'm not sure what you mean by "ridiculous." It's a problem when an industry has such dire needs for talent and is missing entire sectors of society. 

And regarding your comment about "college majors that cater to identity politics instead of practical insdustrial demands," there are plenty of non-technical skills also needed in security.

 
decornel
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decornel,
User Rank: Apprentice
7/18/2017 | 3:50:52 PM
You can not force the horse
This is the same problem in Electrical Engineering.  It's not what people want to do.  This has very little to do with minorities, but this has to do with society.  People want to do what is fun.  In Cyber Security everyone wants to do the cool jobs like research, pen testing, but the industry needs practitioners.  It's not fun, IT IS WORK!!!

So we have what people want which is the people who gravitate to Cyber Security are the people who want to do real Cyber Security WORK!!!

What we need is to make Cyber Security a YouTube channel and everyone would want to do it.  Well, until they have to actually be accountable for parsing the 10's of millions of logs, firewall rules, filters, scripts, and reports that they must do to be a real Cyber Security Engineer.  It takes time to learn to be good, which probably means you had to work real hard for a long time to obtain the skills needed to do the job.

Cyber Security, it's a hot high paying job, because no one wants to do it!  Essentially Cyber Security is the new Garbage collector job; they pay high to lure talented people to do a thankless job that is needed by everyone.

Agree or disagree, but this is not a diversity thing.
raceBannon9901
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raceBannon9901,
User Rank: Apprentice
7/19/2017 | 8:27:03 AM
Re: Ridiculous article, ridiculous symposium
I agree with Kelly. The network defender community has known about this for almost a decade.

 

CSO Magazine said this year that worldwide, there are 1 Million unfilled jobs. When you consider women in the network defender community, we find that they are almost non-existent. Forbes said last year that women make up only 11% of the cybersecurity workforce. If you add a minority to that checklist, say a black or Hispanic woman, that number drops to under 1%.

 

Clearly, if we are to close the gap, women and minorities have to be a source.

 

And we just can't tell our HR departments to hire more. Facebook, Google and others have all tried and failed.

 

Part of problem is that many women and minorities lose interest in STEM (Science, technology, engineering and math) subjects before they get to college. There are many reasons for this that have been well documented: male dominated culture turns women off, popular culture pushes women into "traditional" women's roles, minorities do not have access to strong STEM education, and others.

 

Another part of the problem stems from the cybersecurity old guard (Old white guys). We are the ones doing the hiring. We are the ones that tolerate sexism in the workplace when what we should be doing is stamping it out at every opportunity. We are the ones that are not mentoring the few minorities that do work for us and knocking down the obstacles that prevent them from succeeding.

 

This is the message that the network defender community should be hearing; especially from the old guard. Presenting that information at one of the most well-attended network defender conferences on the planet is a good place to do it.

 

Very respectfully, 

 

 

Rick Howard

CSO

Palo Alto Networks

Full Disclosure: I am on Kelly's panel at Blackhat.
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