Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion – The Centerpiece of Cyber

Steve Prentice
Published 03/08/2024
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DEI at the heart of cybersecurityMuch of the focus of IT, cybersecurity, and business processes overall since the peak years of the pandemic has been on the technologies at our fingertips. From video chats to hybrid workspaces to generative AI, these quickly evolving tools have changed business forever, and hopefully for the better. But there is a component of the business world that has been working hard in the background for decades and now needs to be thrust into the spotlight for what it truly is: not just the matching half of the people-technology equation, but its central pillar.

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) is a term that some people understand, more people think they understand, and even more people realize they do not fully understand. In a recent podcast, Dwan Jones, Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at ISC2, said that she has a mission to clarify this and to guide people toward full comprehension of what DEI can do for them and for their organizations.


DEI is a business essential

The term DEI sometimes lacks a clear definition. Because of its importance, people want to recognize and understand if they’re doing the right thing, but in doing this, they encounter challenges that they may not have thought about.

“We really have to look at DEI as an essential part of business and a part of everything we do,” Dwan said. “It’s rare to go into any industry or company and find they do not have an HR department, or one for business development, marketing, or communications, since these are essential elements of business. Having a DEI function within the organization is just as essential because it speaks to a company’s commitment to doing things the right way and to being successful.

ISC2, well known in the cybersecurity industry for its courses, certifications, and advocacy, puts out some well-researched papers each year, and Dwan points out the findings in their 2022 Workforce Study that having DEI both for the individual employee and for the organization is a critical issue. It’s about being more innovative, being more creative, and building a sustainable workforce, she says, “a culture that people want to work for and that they want to work with.”

This will be even more important than ever, given the working environments we now occupy in which a mass workforce has been replaced by individual employees with individualized needs, expectations, and life priorities.


DEI brings new leaders into the field

In terms of progress to date, Dwan says that for the neurodivergent community, things have come a relatively long way. But when it comes to statistics about people of color and women in cyber, there is still much work to do. Building more inclusive environments is more than just about numbers – it’s about giving people from underrepresented groups a sense of belonging and a feeling that they can succeed and become leaders within the field.



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Dwan highlights Google as a company that walks the walk and talks the talk, supporting diversity within its own walls but also out there in the broader cyber community. One of the key things Dwan sees in Google is leadership commitment, which supports DEI development through opportunity, awareness, and financial commitment. She also admires their transparency. Google regularly publishes reports, not only for the people who work for Google but for the outside world to see.

For companies that are not as large as Google, which is most companies, she points out that it’s possible to offer a DEI resource center through a company website with free materials and toolkits for starting a DEI strategy: hiring, vocabulary, and definitions. Some of these materials are for leaders, others for students and people new to the cyber industry, and still others are for members of underrepresented communities themselves.


Diversity of region is no longer a barrier

Diversity does not just mean gender, race, ethnicity, identification, or neurodivergence; it also embraces diversity of region, which highlights the great change that technology brings to distance, no longer making it a barrier between companies and employees, but instead making it a bridge, allowing people to work with companies and customers hundreds or thousands of miles away.

There are plausible action items that any organization can embrace to start working on building or refining their DEI policies. Dwan says, “Start from where you are, and make incremental changes. Cybersecurity needs a lot more people, and we all have to start somewhere.


About the Author

Headshot of Steve PrenticeSteve is a specialist in organizational psychology, focusing on the interaction of people, technology, and change. He works as a speaker, author, broadcaster, and writer with clients in IT, cybersecurity, government, healthcare, and law, dealing with cybersecurity, AI, blockchain, and the future of work.

Steve is the author of three business books and writes for experts worldwide. He is a visiting lecturer at Ontario Tech University and delivers keynotes, media interviews, white papers, and podcasts on these topics.

He holds degrees in journalism and psychology and is pursuing a PhD in Psychology, focusing on brain/technology interaction.


Disclaimer: The author is completely responsible for the content of this article. The opinions expressed are their own and do not represent IEEE’s position nor that of the Computer Society nor its Leadership.