Partner & Board Member, Deloitte Canada
Partner, Cyber Risk Services, Deloitte Canada
Learn how Deloitte’s Women in Cyber campaign is building a community of women cyber professionals to help cultivate more diversity in an industry with millions of open jobs.
Cybersecurity is a booming industry with one big problem — there just aren’t enough qualified people to fulfill the industry’s demand for workers. According to an (ISC)2 study, the industry expects to see an estimated 3.5 million vacant jobs globally in 2021.
To meet the demand, the industry needs to grow more than 145 percent. While the industry aims to attract more talent in general, it also faces a diversity gap — despite the millions of open jobs, there just aren’t enough candidates to fulfill these roles. And yet, according to Cybersecurity Ventures, only 25 percent of cybersecurity jobs this year will be held by women, despite women making up almost 47 percent of the general workforce.
“While there are many opportunities for young women in this profession, there’s a disconnect between what cyber professionals do and the skills needed to be one,” says Beth Dewitt, Partner and Board Member at Deloitte Canada and Women in Cyber Leader. “I don’t come from a traditional computer science or engineering program. Today, cybersecurity requires diverse perspectives and experiences to solve complex issues and threats. We need to include people with non-traditional and non-technical backgrounds so that this diversity of thought and experience can inform how we build and protect the very services and systems that help keep us connected and progressing as a society. Without this kind of diversity, we won’t be able to reflect our own social diversity or create more inclusive communities.”
Diverse backgrounds bring diverse perspectives
Dewitt, whose career started in international development and anthropology, came into the cybersecurity field through her work in health research and health privacy. She leads Deloitte’s global Women in Cyber campaign — which aims to showcase that behind every functioning society, there’s a woman in cyber. The campaign, which focuses on the stories of real women working in cybersecurity at Deloitte, aims to attract more women to the industry, while celebrating those who are currently making an impact.
“The more we get our own stories out there, the more young women and girls will see that there are opportunities for them,” says Dewitt. “Organizations need to position cyber as a career choice for all individuals with different backgrounds, degrees, and experience. Cyber is a risk profession, not just a technology profession. It’s a business enabler and it’s strategic, more so now than ever.”
In addition to breaking down misconceptions, Dewitt says that it’s important for organizations to be deliberate in how they’re recruiting and hiring for roles in cyber. Since the campaign started, Deloitte has seen a rise of over 30 percent in female applicants.
“This demonstrates early in our campaign that there are many women who are interested in working in this space and that through this campaign, and through seeing women like them who they can easily relate to, they better understand what opportunities are possible and accessible,” says Daniella Toledano, Partner, Cyber Risk Services at Deloitte Canada. “Diversity leads to a wider range of perspectives and voices, as well as experiences and skills, which together lead to interesting and innovative solutions to our cybersecurity threats.”
In addition to the digital component of the campaign — which will feature videos, articles, and podcasts — Deloitte is also developing a grade school program to introduce girls to cybersecurity earlier, and help improve their understanding of online safety. Deloitte’s Women in Cyber team has also designed a leadership development program aimed at uniquely supporting its own women cyber professionals.
What’s next for women in cyber: beyond landing the job
The campaign isn’t done, and Dewitt points out that it’s important to have continuous awareness opportunities to inspire growth, development, and to promote women into leadership roles. She suggests those interested in a career in cyber to “just go for it.”
“There are increasingly more professional and community groups focused specifically on women in cyber, and equally as many women professionals who are committed to helping other women start a career in cyber. I encourage those interested to reach out and get connected,” says Dewitt.