Diversity & Inclusion Q&A

Well, to the start, can I just check what your background is e.g. what is your job title, how long have you worked in tech for etc? 

I’m a Creative Content Specialist and I’ve focused on security and privacy in Infosec for the last seven years.  I’m an active researcher, contributor to our blog, producer of our security podcast, and I interview experts on a wide range of topics related to the data security industry.

And secondly, well, it is a very open-ended question, so up to you, but how do you view diversity in the world of infosecurity?

I’ve had many conversations about diversity in the world of infosecurity with sales reps, sales engineers, marketing, IT support, and upper management. The consensus is that everyone agrees that diversity is important and valuable. We all see that changes are happening in our society, as well as the infosec industry, but just not fast enough. But as a wise colleague reminded me, “What’s considered fast? Rome wasn’t built in a day.”

I think more education on unconscious bias might be helpful because our society is still experiencing a few challenges that undermine the progress we’ve made. For instance, in the industry as a whole women typically aren’t invited to networking opportunities in the same way men are. Also when a new idea is voiced, somehow it’s more well received when a man reiterates it and he ends up getting credit for the idea.  Despite these challenges, we all are optimistic that the infosecurity community will eventually reflect the kind of diversity we’d like to see.

Rather than men and women, do you think there is enough representation of people from different ethnicity, from the LGBT community or people with disabilities?

The representation we see in our industry is also reflective of systemic societal problems – access to a computer, role models, and socioeconomic factors.

It would be great to hear of your experience at events – is it still all middle aged white straight men or are things changing?

My conversations with men at large industry events are strictly about business, but sometimes he may steer the conversation towards something inappropriate. My responses are always polite, but I don’t engage.

And as for middle aged white straight men, we need to figure out a way to enlist them to join the conversation with minorities, women, LGBT, people with disabilities and to take action together as we all co-exist together.

And finally, what do you think having a more diverse industry would bring to the table, and any thoughts on how to increase diversity?

A more diverse industry ultimately helps bring in different perspectives to solve a very complicated problem in infosecurity. Yes, you have to work a little harder – more communication, make space for disagreements, keep talking even when it’s difficult – but you will come out with a better solution, product, or service and you will reap the rewards in the bottom line.

My thoughts on how to increase diversity – I mentioned earlier that a lot of what we see in the industry are systemic societal problems. So when you’re outside of work, start by befriending someone who looks different from you. You’ll find that behind the ego, color, gender, that we all share a common humanity.

Cindy Ng is a technology, business, and design hybrid. She currently writes for Varonis' Inside Out Security blog, covering data security and privacy.