Fortify Experts analyzed over 90,000 cybersecurity profiles on LinkedIn to get an accurate understanding of the diversity within cybersecurity. We segmented profiles into the following categories:

  • Women
  • Veteran
  • Hispanic
  • Asian
  • African American

Our analysis aimed to determine if there was a significant under representation of each group relative to its percentage of the U.S. population.

Similar to many STEM fields, women, African-Americans and Hispanics are underrepresented in cybersecurity. The gap is the largest for women, who make up 56.7% of the overall workforce according to the BLS. In cybersecurity, they are only 22% of the workforce. This is lower than general IT roles, where women comprise 30% of the workforce. In some biomedical fields, women make up the majority of the workforce.

The veteran and Asian communities are traditionally considered diversity candidates, but both groups are well-represented in cybersecurity. In fact, as a result of military training, veterans are overrepresented in the cybersecurity workforce, making up 9.2% of the cybersecurity workforce when they are only 5.5% of the population.

How Much Diversity is in Cybersecurity?
Similar diversity gaps are present across different cybersecurity positions. We analyzed the diversity across the following roles: security analyst/engineer, auditors, security architects, and CISO.

The largest gap among women is in the highly technical roles. For example, women represent less than 7% of the security architects.

The African-American community is well-represented among auditor roles, but under represented in all other security positions.  Hispanics are consistently underrepresented in every role.

Why Should Teams Seek Diversity?
Diversity is an asset to cybersecurity teams. A diverse workforce produces better results for businesses. In cybersecurity, diversity can mean many things: diverse race, gender, veteran status, professional background, disabilities, and personality.

Companies with diverse teams see tangible business results through increased innovation, better communication and better cooperation. Diversity can make companies more profitable too.  A BCG study of more than 1,600 companies analyzed the most diverse companies and saw a 19-percentage point increase in revenue from innovation alone.

Fortify Experts coaches security teams to focus on diversity of thought. This purposeful method of designing a team of people with different perspectives naturally leads to more diverse teams.

Leaders can create more productive and creative teams by balancing out behavioral strengths. A balanced combination of thinkers, doers, analysts, and communicators is ideal. Thinkers
bring the big ideas and innovations, while doers are task-oriented.

Analysts dive deep into the data and the communicators help the cybersecurity team sell their mission and purpose. With the right mix, teams will be more inclusive, collaborative, and
communicate better.

Creating Diversity
Diversity won’t happen on its own. Companies have to be proactive to gain the benefit from it. From our diversity research and coaching experience, we have identified six steps companies can take to attract, build and retain diverse teams.

  • Build diverse leadership: Diversity starts at the top. Diverse leaders will attract employees from a variety of backgrounds, creating diverse teams.
  • Promote social relevance: Cybersecurity is critical to prevent attacks and keep society functioning. By highlighting the societal need for cybersecurity,
    companies can bring in a wide range of passionate candidates.
  • Reduce intimidation: Big egos are common in an industry full of experts but can be intimidating for new and diverse hires. Companies should address
    those who are intolerant of employees from diverse backgrounds and create a welcoming and inclusive environment for all.
  • Create mentorships: Fostering mentorships between experienced leaders and younger or diverse works is beneficial for everyone. Junior members can
    learn technical skills and gain confidence by having a trusted advisor and mentor they can lean on. Working with a mentor improves soft skills and
    leaderships skills, which could lead to future promotions.
  • Leverage collaboration and social skills: A fun work environment is attractive. Social team activities can be a selling point for candidates from
    other specialties or non-technical backgrounds.
  • Provide personalized training: Train employees according to their individual needs. Leaders should evaluate their team members’ individual weaknesses
    and determine where they can build them up. Individualized training will help each employee develop the skills they need.

In a recent trend to push women into cybersecurity, CIODIVE found that women who expressed an interest in cybersecurity could move from an IT management position to a cybersecurity leadership position in less than two years.

To help rebalance the gender inequity in cybersecurity, Fortify Experts has funded Cybersecurity Divas. This organization promotes the accomplishments of women in cybersecurity and provides mentoring.  Learn more about Cybersecurity Divas.

This is an excerpt from Fortify Experts’ annual Cybersecurity Employment Trends Report. To read the report in its entirety, go to the 2021 Cybersecurity Employment Trends Report

About Tim Howard

Tim Howard is the founder of Fortify Experts (www.fortifyexperts.com) which helps companies hire and deploy Best on the Planet talent through executive search perm placement and expert consulting. 

In addition, he has a passion for simplifying the hiring of security experts, as well as, simplifying how companies assess and plan for improving their security programs.

Tim conducts monthly CISO Round Tables which provides security leaders a forum to discuss best practices around relevant topics.

He also teamed up with Lyndrel Downs to launch www.CybersecurityDIVAS.com to help promote the most influential women in cybersecurity and provide a mentoring program to help encourage and support more diversity within the industry.

Tim has been leading technology staffing teams for over 20 years and is the founder of three other technology firms. He has degrees from Texas A&M University in Industrial Distribution and Marketing.