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Looking for Diverse Cybersecurity Talent? These Visionary Companies and Initiatives Grow Their Own

Over this past series of articles, we’ve been exploring the current and growing talent deficit in the cybersecurity space as more and more companies compete for the best and brightest. And we’ve looked at the unique challenges the industry has faced to become more diverse and inclusive. 

Today innovative companies have stepped into the gap to create programs to help address the cybersecurity talent shortage in general. Companies that are smart and innovative about their hiring know that reeling in great diverse talent is a matter of:

A. knowing the right spots to fish in, and

B. building opportunities and environments that foster new talent; that is, creating and stocking their own pool. 

Fortunately, these efforts are getting noticed and catching on, inspiring more and more companies and innovators to participate. 

Below are some companies, not-for-profit organizations, and initiatives that are creating great results, benefiting themselves, the talent they nurture, and the cybersecurity industry. And this is only a partial list, which is encouraging! 

From Talent Search to Talent Development 

The CCSF CyberSecurity Apprenticeship Program is led by Carolyn Shek, Sr. Community Development Specialist at the of Economic & Workforce Development, heads up this program with Dr. Olivia Herriford, Cybersecurity Grant/Program Manager at City College of San Francisco. The program trains diverse talents from the San Francisco Bay Area at City College of San Francisco (CCSF) and places them in apprenticeships at participating cybersecurity companies. 

brainbabe.org addresses the cybersecurity talent shortage with services that promote women to enter the field. Brainbabe has showcased the power of educational diversity through its one-day conference event called Day of Shecurity which provides hands-on technical workshops and business skill training to attendees free of charge. Deidre Diamond, Founder, and CEO of CyberSN and brainbabe will be speaking at the RSA Conference on Friday, March 8 regarding retaining and growing cybersecurity talent.

Inteligencahas learned that many women wanted training and the accreditation needed to be a cybersecurity professional, but there were too many barriers to entry so they launched the 100 Women in 100 Days project, with the goal of equipping 100 women for new roles in Cybersecurity -- at zero cost to them. The program now has hundreds of interested women lined up to benefit themselves, and address the talent shortage at the same time. The founder of the initiative, Carmen Marsh, is a panelist at RSA Conference in the “Solving Our Cybersecurity Talent Shortage” seminar on Monday, March 4th and will be available to answer questions there. 

Second Careers: Re-Skilling as a New Source of Talent 

The Prelude Institute assesses, trains and places people who have been left behind by the current labor market into new, middle-skills careers in under one year, for under $10,000. Prelude co-develops the curriculum with employers, ensuring the grads it places are “work-ready” from the start and allows students to pay back their tuition once they are earning. 

SecureSet offers a 20-week immersive cybersecurity boot camp called SecureSet Academy that also retrains people from other industries for jobs in the cybersecurity space, allowing them to reinvent their careers and their lives. The reasons students cite for wanting to transfer to cybersecurity are as diverse as they are: forced economic factors like redundancies or job phase outs, transitioning from military to civilian work, unhappiness with current employers, or simply for advancement. 

Conferences that Develop and Promote Diverse Talent

In addition to the aforementioned 100 Women in 100 Days program, there are several conferences dedicated to developing female talent for the tech industry. 

LadyCoders is an annual conference in Denver, led by women for women to give women and non-binary technologists the mentorship, the validation and the role models that show them how to blaze a path forward in fields that have not always been welcoming.  LadyCoders founder, Elaine Marino, is a featured speaker at RSA Conference in the “Solving Our Cybersecurity Talent Shortage” seminar on Monday, March 4th. 

Women’s Society of Cyberjutsu is a 501c3 dedicated to providing women with hands-on technical training as well as professional support to help them bridge the gender divide in tech. It’s geared toward women beginning their careers as well as those transitioning from other industries. 

GlobalMindEDis dedicated to building a diverse talent pipeline and closing the equity gap in tech as well as other sectors. It runs an annual conference -- slated this year for June 5-7 in Denver, that brings together educators, policymakers in government and nonprofits, entrepreneurs and business leaders, as well as students. Carol Carter, CEO of GlobalMindED will be one of the participants available to speak with registered attendees at the “Solving Our Cybersecurity Talent Shortage” seminar. 

Diana Initiative conducts an annual conference that kicked off in 2017. Women and others can come to support and benefit from the company’s mission: to encourage diversity and support women who want to pursue careers in information security, promote diverse and supportive workplaces, and help change workplace cultures. Attendees are encouraged to find a mentor at the conference. 

Other programs and initiatives aim to connect with the youngest of future cybersecurity professionals through creative means. US Army Cyber Command, under General Paul M. Nakasone, hosts the CyberPatriot Elementary School Cyber Education Initiative for grade school children andThe National Youth Cyber Defense Competitionprogram that works with high school teams to teach cybersecurity fundamentals in a hands-on way. 

For those attending the RSA Conference in San Francisco (March 4-8, 2019) be sure to attend the session (Girl) Scouting for Talent: The Solution for the Next Generation with Girl Scouts of the USA CEO, Sylvia Acevedo. Girls Scouts of the USA, in partnership with Palo Alto Networks to learn more about this promising program to provide early childhood cybersecurity education and inspire the next generation of tech leaders.

Posted on February 27, 2019

Karen Worstell

by Karen Worstell

CEO of W Risk Group and Founder of MOJO Maker for Women in Tech

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