Promoting diversity in cyber security

Published on: 21 Jun 2021

It's no secret that demand for cyber security professionals continues to far outstrip supply. And the best way to address this gap will be to improve diversity in the sector. At the moment, many groups may feel excluded from this sector, or have the opinion that working in this sector is not for them. 

Addressing the cyber security skills gap

Encouraging people from all backgrounds into cyber security careers will be vital in closing the severe skills gap that still exists within the industry. For instance, according to figures from the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, 653,300 businesses in the UK have a basic cyber skills gap, while skills provider (ISC)2 calculates there needs to be a 145 per cent increase in the number of cyber security professionals around the world in order to meet current demand.

However, at the moment, a lack of diversity means great talent is being overlooked. Therefore, it's vital for employers to promote diversity throughout their organisation in order to foster a positive atmosphere and attract the best talent. In the longer term, encouraging more people from diverse backgrounds into the industry will be a must if firms are to cope with an increasingly challenging environment.

Closing the gender divide

One particular area of focus is getting more women into the sector. While the gender balance has been improved in recent years, cyber security is still a heavily male-dominated profession. Research by the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) estimates less than a third of people working in the sector (32 per cent) are female.

The industry therefore needs to better showcase the opportunities available and address misconceptions to promote women in cyber security. Deloitte, for instance, recently launched a global campaign to boost female representation in the cyber security workplace, with a particular aim of showcasing the diverse skill sets and roles that are available.

Emily Mossburg, global cyber leader, said: "We have to expand the vernacular used today around careers so that when asked, 'what do you want to be when you grow up?', the answers include roles like ethical hacker, data privacy professional and cyber strategist."

Opportunities for neuro-diverse applicants

However, improving the gender balance isn't the only way in which cyber security teams can improve diversity. Another key area for the sector is focused on neuro-diversity. This sector can present a wide range of opportunities for people with neurodiverse conditions - from dyslexia to autism - as these individuals may often have skills that will be highly useful to employers.

Recently, the NCSC launched its latest annual diversity survey, with a particular focus on how neurodiversity and disability are represented within the sector. Lindy Cameron, chief executive of the organisation, said: "A welcoming community and greater diversity leads to more innovation and better outcomes for the UK."

Learn more about how neurodiversity can be a major asset for cyber security teams, or check out our latest vacancies to see what roles are available today.