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 

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It’s no secret that tech has struggled to diversify its workforce. Equal representation of minorities and women in tech still has a long way to go. But as companies also struggle to fill cybersecurity jobs, there can sometimes be a disconnect between needing to fill a position today and working harder to make cyber teams more diverse in the future. To properly address the problem, first we need to understand what’s causing the problem.

Women in Tech: By the Numbers

In 2014, some of the biggest tech companies in the world came together to look at the representation of women and minorities among their ranks through a joint diversity study. The idea was that by understanding the demographics of the company, it would be able to better move toward a more diverse workplace.

Unfortunately, the 2020 study showed little has changed in the past decade, despite efforts to increase diversity. While women are now 23% of Facebook’s technical workforce, African-American employees are woefully underrepresented (3.8% of the workforce) as well as at Twitter (2% of the workforce). At Apple, 53% of new hires are from historically underrepresented groups in tech, however the lack of diversity in leadership roles indicates people within these groups are not sticking around or being promoted.

The need for more women in tech and an overall increase in diversity throughout the tech world is well documented and even more pressing when it comes to cybersecurity. In 2020, it should go without saying that diversity is good for business, leading to better products and services that are designed for a wide range of people. With the demographics of the U.S. becoming more diverse each year, smart businesses should be making diversity hiring a priority if they are to compete in the future, yet as we see with these tech giants, it takes more than simply acknowledging the problem.

Create a Safe, Supportive Workplace

To create a diverse workforce, your company must hire and retain a diverse staff. Encourage an environment where team members are supportive. Competition should be healthy, not cut-throat. Nicknames and teasing, even if done “in good fun” can leave employees feeling like they’re on the outside.

Companies are wise to take a hard look at company culture and ensure it is not discriminatory, especially if areas of your workforce are male-dominated. A 2017 poll by the Pew Research Center found that 50% of women said they had experienced gender discrimination at work. The numbers were even higher for women working in tech at 74%, or in a male-dominated workplaces at 78%.

Bottom line? There’s a need to ensure workplaces are safe environments for all employees and that companies foster a culture of support and inclusion, free of snarky comments and cliques. Letting a negative workplace environment fester can not only lead to attrition, but as word gets out in tight-knit circles like cybersecurity, it can hamper recruiting too.

Hire for Skills and Experience First

Every hiring manager and HR recruiter is looking for that impressive resume with a specific degree from a top school and all the right job titles, but in a tight cybersecurity job market, those can be hard to come by. Instead of relying on HR software to curate resumes, look more closely for people who may not be an exact fit at first glance but have all the right skills.

While most hiring managers may be reluctant to admit it, unconscious bias can influence hiring decisions, especially when looking for people who will fit in with the team. This can often lead to hiring people like themselves, in appearance, background and world-view. One way companies are overcoming this, according to TechRepublic, is to use diverse analytics software to hide personal information, such as name, age, gender, and ethnicity, allowing recruiters to focus on more relevant factors like job skills and experience.

This kind of tech is the idea behind the CyberSN platform KnowMore, which also puts the focus on skills and experience, creating anonymous profiles companies can review without the professional worrying about bias.

Don’t Overlook Candidates With Career Gaps

Because there’s a shortage of cybersecurity professionals in the workforce today, it’s a great opportunity for people who have left work for a while to re-enter the workforce. It remains an amazing untapped talent pool.

COVID-19 is forcing many people, especially women who are often the caregivers, to opt out of the workforce. It can be difficult for women to come back to work after such breaks, leaving talented people willing to work sidelined. Why risk losing a qualified professional just because of a career gap? In the interview, ask about the break—motivated people will often tell you about volunteer work, training, or professional development they did during that time, ensuring they stayed engaged and kept skills fresh.

How Are Companies Creating a Diverse Workplace?

The financial research firm Morningstar formed a women’s initiative group that aims to make Morningstar a leading supporter of women in financial services, and created a diversity council to provide a platform for discussions on diversity to foster change. Tech company Vail Systems created a policy requiring at least one woman participate in the interview process for each role. The company also makes sure to have women representing Vail at all of its recruiting events.

These examples reveal that hiring for diversity takes more than simply a desire to do so. Taking action within the company indicating diversity is a priority is a good first step. Giving your hiring process a fresh look and how it may be leaving people out is another.

As a woman-owned company, CyberSN is committed to improving diversity throughout the cybersecurity industry and helping others do so too. Our results speak for themselves. At CyberSN, 52% of our placements are diversity hires. We know it’s possible to find great talent among all races and genders. If you’d like to learn what your company can do to improve workplace diversity, get in touch.

This past weekend Susan Fowler, a former engineer at Uber, published her blog describing repeated gender discrimination by her department’s leadership and Uber’s HR department. Susan’s blog can be found here. As she put it, her “situation was escalated as far up the chain as it could be escalated, and still nothing was done”. This is unacceptable.

As a champion of healthy, gender-balanced workplace cultures, I feel compelled to comment on this story as it develops. When will this stop? How could female HR representatives act like this? How could this be happening at a modern tech company comprised of people from a younger generation who have seen the impacts of harassment and harsh treatment?

Speak Up, Speak Out

Our community needs to wake up. The lack of women in cybersecurity is a matter of national security. The disrespectful treatment of women in cybersecurity is causing them to leave the field. In a recent NCWIT study, it was found that 56% of women leave their jobs in tech in under 10 years, “a higher rate than both science and engineering, and about twice as high as the attrition rate for men”. The industry is short one million cybersecurity professionals—we do not have time for leaders to not lead!

In addition, Uber’s response really misses the mark (you can read it here).

I do not want to read the statistics around Uber having more female employees than Apple or other tech companies. This conversation is not about how many women are employed at Uber; this is about sexual harassment and a lack of equal treatment. And to call out having 2% more women employed than in other tech companies is no great accomplishment. I would expect Uber to respond with statements like, “we take this matter very seriously,” “we will take serious action against anyone who acts in this harassing manner,” and “we will be investing X dollars into programs that ensure all managers are trained on leadership qualities (i.e., equality-based management behaviors and recognizing behaviors towards employees that are deemed grounds for termination – including sexually harassing emails!),” among other statements. One act of sexual harassment, be it via email or in-person, puts women in a horrible place and forever creates a cloud of discrimination within an organization. It must never be tolerated.

To Uber: I have switched to Lyft. The involvement of your HR department in this behavior is appalling. Get it together, show our community you really care, and then I will be happy to return as a customer.

In closing, I would like to thank Susan Fowler for speaking up. Thank you for having the courage to tell your story! Through sharing and speaking out, we can stop this behavior. There are many amazing men and women in tech who will always stand beside you. Ladies: please speak up and know that you are not alone. This behavior must stop now — not tomorrow.  I am calling out to all leaders in technology to stand before your teams and demand behaviors of integrity, respect and equality for women at work.