Last Updated on January 26, 2024
A diverse and inclusive team can improve performance and innovation in any profession or industry. But diversity is especially valuable in cybersecurity.
Countering the relentless and ever evolving cyberattacks that threaten our businesses, community organizations, and government agencies takes a diverse group of cybersecurity professionals with a broad range of collective skills, experience, and perspectives.
This article introduces Cyversity and explores how it can help organizations build more diverse, inclusive, and effective cybersecurity teams.
Why is diversity hard to achieve in cybersecurity?
Cybersecurity expertise is critical to keeping sensitive assets secure. But expertise alone is not enough.
Meeting today’s threats also takes a balance of ethnicity, gender, and culture. This includes individuals whose backgrounds may not typically be associated with cybersecurity roles.
Meanwhile, the longstanding cybersecurity skills shortage continues to thwart successful hiring. Companies have difficulty attracting qualified professionals, while job candidates report that businesses often have unreasonable experience, education, and salary expectations.
For example, a very high percentage of cybersecurity job postings require a technical bachelor’s degree. But historically many cybersecurity workers, do not have college degrees. The cost of college may be a financial barrier to many otherwise qualified people from underserved communities.
What is Cyversity?
Cyversity is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization committed to the academic and professional success of minority cybersecurity students and professionals. Through its members, activities, and programs, Cyversity is increasing the number of women, minorities, veterans, and other underrepresented demographics who:
- Demonstrate academic excellence,
- Obtain a postsecondary cybersecurity credential, and
- Successfully embark on a cybersecurity career.
Seeking to “diversify, educate, and empower” a diverse cybersecurity workforce, Cyversity is tackling “the great cyber divide” with scholarship opportunities, mentoring programs, diverse workforce development programs, and innovative outreach into underserved communities.
What are the top diversity challenges that Cyversity addresses?
The cybersecurity diversity challenges that Cyversity directly addresses include:
- Introducing new audiences to cybersecurity
- Helping cybersecurity jobseekers assess and represent their skills and talents
- Building skills and knowledge to fill specific cybersecurity jobs/roles
- Building community among underrepresented and minority cyber professionals
- Placing the right talent into the right roles
- Propagating and expanding diversity and inclusion across the cybersecurity profession
In short, Cyversity is “changing the face” of cybersecurity to include more people of color, women, veterans, and others. In so doing, its members’ efforts and dedication are also improving the lives of many individuals and families.
“As an organization, some of the primary things we do are to help people get from where they are to where they want to be,” explains Larry Whiteside, Jr., President, Cyversity. “If you are a veteran, a college student, or a nurse trying to transfer into your first cybersecurity role, we will help you find the training you need.”
Cyversity also helps mid-career cyber professionals and executives advance and transition their careers. For example, Cyversity offers programs to help mid-level cyber executives build the business and professional skills to become qualified CISOs. They also offer resume workshops and other training to help constituents advance their cyber careers.
The value of community in building cybersecurity diversity
Community is perhaps Cyversity’s most important vector for learning and success. Trainings and conferences are valuable, but community relationships and involvement help people learn and grow like nothing else.
Larry Whiteside states: “Having a community of people that I can go to, communicate with, share my struggles, get feedback on different things, hear about topics related to where I am in my career… A community with a shared mindset who come together to talk about life experiences is the biggest value because it gives us a way to look out for each other. Everybody becomes a resource for everybody else.”
Cyversity is a platform where members can connect, engage, and learn from each other. Direct learning from others in the field is some of the most powerful and valuable learning available, because it can be applied directly to job roles and situations.
How can I partner with Cyversity?
Cyversity actively seeks partners to be part of the diversity solution in cybersecurity by assessing, evaluating, and recruiting diverse talent.
Through its Cyversity Develop accelerated professional development program, current and future cybersecurity professionals are building the skills, knowledge, and capabilities to succeed in their careers.
Cyversity’s partners support this program by providing training opportunities that enable participants to gain entry-level, job-ready skills across many cybersecurity domains. Developed by Cyversity members, these training programs typically emphasize foundational skills that are important to thrive at any and all professional levels.
For more guidance on this topic, listen to Episode 129 of The Virtual CISO Podcast with guest Larry Whiteside, Jr., CISO at RegScale and co-founder of Cyversity.