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RSAC Day One Seminar: Solving Our Cybersecurity Talent Shortage

Last year’s RSA Conference featured a session Women in Computing: Why Are Women Leaving Computing Professions? Session moderator, Karen Worstell, guided attendees through a unique exercise: walk around the room three times and each time take on a different persona. Attendees walked around once as themselves, once as someone from a demographic opposite of them, and once neutral (that is, projecting as little personality as possible). 

Designed to introduce empathy which is typically unfamiliar in a group setting, the feedback from the diverse group was consistent: it’s exhausting walking around as someone you’re not. Yet, whether intentional or not, that is what is asked and expected of individuals in the business realm on a daily basis. 

“That’s what we do in the cybersecurity world; we bring people in with a variety of backgrounds and expect them to take on a certain persona to fit in seamlessly, “says Worstell, founder and managing Principal of W Risk Group LLC. “And, that’s when energy levels and productivity drop drastically.” 

At this year’s Conference, Worstell is taking her talent, diversity and inclusion focus a step or two further with a robust half-day seminar on Solving Our Cybersecurity Talent Shortage, to be held Monday, March 4 from 8am-12pm PT and open to all badge types. The session, including prominent leaders from a wide variety of organizations working to combat this issue, will address a concerning cybersecurity paradox: at a time when the talent pipeline for talent is strong, and when problem solving, innovation and productivity are at an all-time high, why are so many cyber professionals leaving the industry mid-career? 

A familiar focus of the cyber-talent shortage – the percentage of women in the workforce – will also be explored. The exact percentage is disputed (somewhere between 11-20 percent of the total workforce globally), but what’s not up for debate is the need to increase female representation. 

“I have seen all sorts of reports and opinions on the reasons for low numbers of women in the cyber industry, and most offered reasons centered on external factors like inherent bias and broader pay inequality,” says Worstell. “It makes me angry because, as a woman, that gives the message that these factors are outside of my control. That’s an unacceptable situation.” 

“With 3.5 million cyber positions expected to be open by 2021, the question of ’how do we fill them?’ does not have a simple answer, and requires innovative approaches that include culture, inclusion, equity and diversity,” Worstell continues. “Part of our message to cyber companies is: you’re in a talent war and turnover is costing you millions of dollars a year, so you need to be a talent magnet and retain them. To ensure all this amazing tech we have available actually sees the light of day, we have to solve this problem. My goal for this session is that decision makers from companies on the cusp of addressing the talent shortage walk away inspired and take back tangible actions to their companies.” 

Mixed with speaker engagement and Q&A sessions, the seminar   will address these themes head on with topics such as:

  • The Why: The DEI Divided
  • The How: Retain and Recruit a Diverse Talent Pool
  • The Who: Is This Responsibility Yours, Mine, or Ours? 

Leaders who will share insights include:

For a full agenda of the session and bios of the participants, please visit the session page on the RSA Conference website. This program is open to all badge types.

Posted on February 5, 2019

RSAC Editorial Team

by RSAC Editorial Team

Editorial, RSA Conference

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