Ongoing developments in emerging technology highlight how, as a population, our dependance on technology is rapidly increasing. While technology provides many advantages, interconnected technology in society leaves our systems and infrastructure more vulnerable to cybersecurity risks. The current discrepancy between the volume of global cyberattacks and the number of cybersecurity professionals who can defend against them is widely known. As the magnitude, severity, and frequency of cyberattacks escalates, so does the demand for a skilled and agile cybersecurity workforce to combat and build resilience against the cyber threats facing our nation. Yet, resolving this labor shortage cannot be accomplished or fully actualized until the diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) challenges facing the cyber workforce are addressed.
A cybersecurity workforce with employees varying in gender, age, race, ethnicity, and experience improves cybersecurity as a whole. Cyber professionals with diverse backgrounds will provide diverse perspectives to cyber organizations, producing unique ideas and thoughts. This diversity in thinking allows organizations to better understand and identify cyber risks, vulnerabilities and threats compared to organizations with homogenous workforces, as employees may be limited in their ability to think differently from their peers who have similar backgrounds. As there is not a singular identity that represents all malicious cyber actors; cybersecurity professionals must have just as much variation in their own backgrounds to think ahead about the multitude of ways that cybercriminals can execute cyberattack.
Cultivating a diverse workforce environment is also financially advantageous to employers. Industry experiences higher profits when employees from cultural and ethnic minority populations are represented on leadership teams, due to the diverse perspectives and solutions that come from a diverse group of backgrounds. On the other hand, when there is little variation in employee background within an organization, the chances of making and repeating errors. This increased risk can also be attributed to less diverse thinking, which can lead to potential mistakes being overlooked.
Though the benefits of a diverse, equitable, and inclusive cyber workforce work are plentiful, there is a significant lack of diversity amongst the workers in the United States cybersecurity industry. In fact, minority groups occupy only a small percentage of the country’s cybersecurity jobs. According to one research survey, approximately: 4% of the cyber workforce identified as Hispanic, 8% identified as Asian, and 9% as African American or Black. Furthermore, women comprise nearly one-quarter of the cyber workforce (roughly 24%).
To increase representation of minority groups in cybersecurity, it is crucial for employers to make DEI a priority for their cyber organizations. OTHSolutions is proud to support the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, which highlights fostering a culture of belonging, diversity, inclusion, and equality as one the agency’s core principles.At OTHSolutions, DEI is also one of our company’s primary values. We recognize the significance of diverse ideas and perspectives and the understand the inextricable linkage between inclusivity and national security. As our nation currently celebrates Black History Month and prepares for Women’s History Month in March, cyber organizations need to prioritize creating a diverse, equitable, and inclusive workforce to improve cybersecurity throughout the country.