We at CyberSN pride ourselves on our success in creating equitable and diverse work environments both internally and with our clients. Diversity is a result of inclusive cultures and we are super thankful for the leadership from our Founder and CEO Deidre Diamond, a woman who has been a wonderful ally to all genders and created amazing work cultures that women can thrive in. Deidre had the opportunity to share a keynote at the Ally of the Year awards during RSA 2022, she decided to write a poem called “Why Do I Need an Ally?” Due to many requests, we are formally sharing it with all of you. 

Thank you for all you do to create inclusive behaviors at CyberSN and Secure Diversity.org!


Why do I need an Ally?

I am a woman from a privileged life
Why do I need an ally?

1 in 4 girls are molested as a child
Why do I need an ally?

1 in 6 women are victims of rape
Why do I need an ally?

Money buys health and safety and yet only 11% of billionaires are women
Why do I need an ally?

Women are said to be equal and yet there are laws that govern their bodies
Why do I need an ally?

Women are said to have equal employment opportunities and yet men dominate the power seats
Why do I need an ally?

Women are said to be safe at work and yet 28% of women working in male dominated professions reported sexual harassment
Why do I need an ally?

I am a woman
And I now know I need allies.

I was molested for years as a child and a teenager
I needed allies to heal.

I dreaded school because I was fat, my body’s natural way of protecting me
I needed allies to see me through school so I had a chance at health and safety.

I was 9 when my sister committed suicide due to her years of sexual abuse
I needed allies to convince me life can be good.

I was told I can’t be an attorney because I must get married and have children
I needed allies to encourage me to provide for myself and graduate college.

I see my sisters having less opportunity than I, especially those sisters of color
I need allies to lift up my broken heart.

I live in a society with laws that harm myself and my sisters
I need allies to fight against injustice.

I am a woman
I have created a socioeconomic power that grants me safety. 

I am a woman
Two entrepreneurial men hired me out of college and provided me with an opportunity in tech and cybersecurity for 21 years.

I am a woman
LUCKY to be of the 15% who are truly given equal opportunity and support at work. 

I am a woman
Who represents 2.3% of women who are the sole founders of a tech company.

I am a woman
Who represents the less than 1% of women who have self funded and solely founded a tech company. 

I am a woman
I needed allies every step of the way.

I am a woman
I long for a day when no human needs allies.

I am a woman
I pray that the generations to come will be allies to each other regardless of gender.

Until that day, join me, join us, be an ally, stand up for equality, fight for equality and be equality
For if you don’t, my story will be just a rare LUCKY story to be told on stages like this.

This is why I need an ally.
Deidre Diamond

For more information on our diversity and inclusion values, please visit Diversity, Equity & Inclusion - CyberSN 

It’s no secret that cybersecurity has a diversity problem. While it is well-documented that inclusion and diversity are benefits to a company and the bottom line, there are some people who are skeptical of diversity’s true impact or may feel left out of the conversation because they are part of the overwhelming white male majority. Company leadership must get all employees on board for any program to be successful. Making inclusion a part of the company’s culture is a good first step to ensure all employees feel valued. Below you’ll find other culture shifts companies can make as well.

Diversity and Inclusion Can Solve Problems

In the video below, “A CISOs Journey To Building Diverse Teams,” EVP and Chief Information Security Officer at Zions Bancorporation, David Stirling says he saw a lack of diversity on the tech side of banking and that it was clear it was causing performance problems.

“The team was not diverse and not a great representation of different backgrounds and different viewpoints,” said Stirling. “The team was not performing well, not against any individual member of the management team, we just weren’t achieving the goals and regulatory requirements for our banks.”


Stirling said he recognized there was an opportunity to start thinking about things differently than what the cybersecurity team to that point had been doing and tapping some talent he had worked with in the past.

“At the time, I wasn’t conscious of the reason why these women leaders are successful is because there’s diversity of backgrounds, there's diversity of thought,” he said. “I just knew them as really highly capable leaders that did not have a cybersecurity background.”

Stirling said once these leaders were brought in, “immediately we began to see some things that needed some changing and when we got some of the female managers on my team in my office they said, ‘Hey we need to change the way we’re thinking about some things.’”

By not including other voices and having a homogeneous team, “we didn’t understand the power we were leaving on the table,” said Stirling.

“It’s Hard to Be Humble”

Diversity of thought requires people to admit they don’t know everything. For seasoned cyber pros who have been at the job for years, it can be challenging to their ego to have someone from outside the department, or even the organization, call to question the way things are done.

Stirling said he had a wake-up call working with the former chief technical officer at his company, who was a champion of diversity.

“I had to be humble and recognize some of the activities and approaches I had previously had were not helpful, not in the sense I was working against what needed to be done but I was not proactive and thinking of things the way they should be done,” said Stirling.

With cybersecurity professionals in such high demand, Stirling says, “this isn’t about replacing people.”

“This isn’t about one or the other, but developing teams with diversity of thought to make them the highest performing team they can be,” he says.

Cut Language That Gives You an Out

How many times have you heard something like this?

“I value diversity training, but our department just hasn’t got the time.”

“I know we should try to be more inclusive.”

Obviously inclusion is a priority here.”

Words like, but, try, and obviously are dismissive. They are not the language of leadership or people who want to take action. Other words like, should, and fine can hold a department or an entire organization back from being truly inclusive.

No one wants to feel like they are not a priority. Opt instead for clean, active language when discussing inclusion and diversity. It sends a clear signal to all employees that having respect and empathy for everyone is required.

“Unless you make diversity a priority, it won’t help you improve your teams,” says Stirling.

Diversity is often discussed at leadership summits and in C-level corporate offices around the country. It’s clear that within many industries, including cybersecurity, there’s a great need to bring more women and people of color into the ranks and into leadership roles. But many efforts to improve diversity in tech have failed. Why is it that after years of diversity training and initiatives, companies are still struggling to recruit and retain diverse talent?

Deidre Diamond, Founder and CEO of CyberSN and the founder of Secure Diversity, has spoken about the challenge of building diverse teams in webinars and at numerous conferences. When people ask her why diversity is still such a challenge, she points out, to get to diversity, you have to start with inclusion.

Why Inclusion Comes First

Inclusion—in the purest sense—is including others or being included within a group or structure. It’s about ensuring that all people, regardless of gender, race, religion, or other similar factors, are respected and appreciated as valuable parts of the organization.

Because if you don't have an inclusive culture, then diverse people won't stay. One study found that 50% of multicultural women were considering leaving their corporate job. The survey also revealed that culture was at the core of the problem. It found that 79% percent of multicultural women cite “male-dominated” culture as an obstacle and 74% believe they are considered “not fitting the profile of a leader.”

In the video below, “Hiring and Retaining Gender Diverse Teams: A How-To Conversation,” Diamond discussed the inclusion concept with Michael Joseph, Co-Founder and CEO of Technium.

He says he came to Diamond to continue to move his company toward diversity. In a customer focused business like his, a lack of gender diversity can hold the company back, Joseph said. They were recruiting women, but were not retaining them. He realized the changes he needed to make at his company had much more to do with overall culture than a specific diversity program.

“The only thing I did do right is I decided culture was important,” said Joseph. “We made a decision a couple of years ago to fix our culture to be a happy, good place to be so now I want to make it more inclusive.”

He continued, “The focus has to be as much on the internal as the external. You can’t spend all your time trying to make customers happy and not making your people happy. Otherwise, you’re not going to have happy customers.”Watch now >>> “Hiring and Retaining Gender Diverse Teams: A How-To Conversation,” Michael Joseph, Co-Founder and CEO of Technium


The Key to Inclusion: Emotional Quotient

How does a company shift its culture to be more inclusive? What steps do managers need to take to show that every employee has respect and is valued? Developing leadership skills should include developing emotional intelligence skills.

An often overlooked aspect of management, recruiting, workforce retention, and ultimately inclusion is emotional intelligence, or EQ. Having empathy for others, understanding non-verbal cues, and being able to manage a team that makes everyone feel valued are important EQ skills and are essential aspects to creating a more inclusive environment.

After years of working in business, tech and cybersecurity, Diamond has learned that everyone wants the same seven things out of work. According to Diamond, understanding what people are looking for in their jobs and seeking to provide them, companies can build stronger relationships with employees. When all employees feel valued, that there is equal opportunity for advancement, and they are treated fairly and with respect, it will become easier to build and retain diverse teams.

Seven Things People Want Out of Work

Here are the ways to retain people and have cultures with inclusion behaviors

  1. To feel valued
  2. Measurable agreements of roles and responsibilities
  3. Positive, productive communication
  4. A career path
  5. Consistent training and learning
  6. Wage equality with peers
  7. To work around kind, respectful people

How do you make a cultural shift and create a workplace culture that achieves these things and in turn, becomes more inclusive?

Allow Managers to Make Inclusion a Priority

Researchers and strategists Lori Nishiura Mackenzie and JoAnne Wehner from Stanford VMWare Women’s Leadership Innovation Lab, suggest getting managers and other leaders involved in diversity training, inclusion strategies, and culture decisions from the start. It helps create buy-in and makes for a smoother implementation. Management is also more likely to stick to a program that includes their ideas.

To make sure the program is truly inclusive, it helps to work with someone outside the organization to facilitate.

Think Visibility, Not Just Representation

A report by Cybersecurity Ventures estimates women made up 20% of the cybersecurity workforce in 2019. One way to increase the number of women entering and staying in the field is to show women in high-profile roles. If only white men are seen representing cybersecurity at your company, then women and people of color will have a harder time envisioning a future with you.

Offer women and people of color more opportunities to represent the company at conferences, leadership training, and other events, both internal and external. This will help them feel more invested in the company, they will be seen as leaders by peers, and allowing them to show off their skills will help battle negative stereotypes and the perception of tokenism.

Don’t Allow Negative Aspects of Culture

Fostering an inclusive environment can be a lot of fun: team building, having lunch together, and outings let people get to know each other and build trust. But don’t let culture get out of hand. Certain behaviors considered “all in good fun” by some could be viewed as toxic by others.

In her conversation with Joseph, Diamond said there are certain workplace behaviors that she feels are not discussed as much as they should be in workplaces today. These are basic behaviors, but for managers to truly build inclusive cultures, Diamond said they must follow these rules of behavior:

Inclusion and diversity are often tossed around as being one and the same, but understanding inclusion must come first is essential to achieving diversity and making it last. An inclusive workplace where EQ and empathy are priorities is one of the best ways to create and maintain a healthy and diverse workplace.


CyberSN, SecureDiversity.org and Deidre Diamond all stand with Black Lives Matter. The treatment of humans is a topic I am in everyday, as many of you are aware. I talk with you about words and behaviors at work that cause problems and or that can make cultures better so that our community can have happiness at work. I enjoy being in this conversation with you all tremendously. I want to share a personal story with you now so that we can be authentic in conversation, while around us all, our communities are hurting. I hope my personal story helps.

The Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement is about human treatment being equitable and human actions being equally accountable, with greater consequences than job dissatisfaction. I am the Founder and CEO of CyberSN and Secure Diversity. I self-funded these businesses from my own hard work, no investors, just risk and a strong desire to create a work environment that people loved. I represent the 1% of Women in Technology that are founding CEOs. I am in my late forties and I have white skin. My biological father is a first-generation Engineering immigrant from the Middle East, my mother is from Pennsylvania and of English descent. I had the honor of having Tommy, a black man, as a stepfather starting at age six. Tommy was a hairdresser in LA, when he met and married my mother. My mother, a white woman who was an LA City School Teacher for forty years and owned hair salons with my step father Tommy after they married. This wonderful man Tommy, passed on from earth just before I graduated college, I think about him all the time and I wish he could see what I have accomplished with others. I cook with his skillet still to this day and have taken it with me through many moves around the US. This man is a HUGE piece of who I became as an adult and a Leader. I love him, and for him and others I stand with BLM.

Tommy moved to live with myself, my mom and my brothers in Orange County, California in the late seventies. I remember him quietly saying while we were driving and listening to music, “most people don’t want me around here” or “I am so happy you don’t have to deal with what I deal with”.  At the time, being so young, I didn’t understand.  “Why wouldn’t Tommy be wanted here?” I thought, “I am so lucky to have him, he is kind, he loves music, he sings with me, he loves mood lighting and always makes our home feel calm, he loves eating and takes me to awesome ethnic restaurants.” Why? Tommy was always kind and never said anything bad about anyone, I loved him for that every day! Why wasn’t he wanted? I could not comprehend.

Time gave me answers to my questions. Questions that should never have to be asked. I mourn for the black men and all humans who have experienced discrimination, for Tommy, for equality of all humans. I pray for leadership to find solutions now, not tomorrow. I pray for extreme change to our laws now, not tomorrow. I vote and I serve and I pledge to never forget that all humans want the same things in life and no human should be treated differently than another human under any circumstances. I know you stand too and that we are together standing.

Tommy was the one who told me at age 6 and onward, “you are a leader” and “people love to follow you, do good with that”.  He told me “you can do anything you want”. He never stopped saying positive empowering things to me.  At the age of 9, Tommy and my mother had me running the front desk appointment setting, collecting customer payment, making bank deposits and cleaning the salon after hours; every weekend!  I became business savvy before 10 because of this man.  I was then and I am now, fearless and Tommy is a key reason.  I hear his kind words about me in my head all the time.  There is no greater gift than to give a child positive affirmations. While I have a wonderful father, who is very involved in my life, it was even more wonderful to have two Dads to love me. Tommy was and is my Dad too.

I am heavy hearted knowing there are so many Tommys out there being mistreated. So many men and women with black skin are being treated poorly, imprisoned and murdered for reasons white people are not imprisoned or murdered for, because of the color of their skin. All of this has to stop. I think about how Tommy didn’t care what color my skin was, or that I had a father or that I was a girl. He loved me unconditionally and cared for me daily, all while he endured discrimination for the color of his skin. All while he was being a father to a white child. Not only do I stand with Black Lives Matter, I live my life with no tolerance for discrimination. I do not tolerate discrimination at our companies or in any of my relationships.  My heart breaks for what is happening in our country, and I plan to make sure things change. Love to everyone and thank you for letting me share this story.

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