Tackling Cybersecurity’s Dual Challenge Simultaneously: Diversity & Skills Gap

Diversity in Cybersecurity

There are two major problems currently plaguing the cybersecurity industry. The first is a global skills gap that is making it difficult for organizations to keep their networks secure. Studies have shown that 3.4 million people are currently needed to fill open jobs in cyber, and 59% of businesses would find it difficult to respond to a cybersecurity incident due to this shortage. Unfortunately, the problem is only getting worse.

At the same time, the cybersecurity sector suffers from a lack of diversity. Women currently
earn about half of science and engineering degrees, but they make up just 20% of employees in those fields. In cybersecurity specifically, women make up only an estimated 24% of the workforce and minorities are also largely underrepresented, accounting for just 26% of employees. Both of these problems can be fixed at the same time by reskilling and upskilling the current workforce in cybersecurity best practices, while bridging the diversity gap by making cybersecurity careers more accessible to everyone. 

However, first we need to get rid of the roadblocks that created these issues in the first place.

Fix Pay Inequity

The gender pay gap is certainly not something exclusive to the cybersecurity industry. However, it is one of the worst offenders. When asked about their previous year’s salary, 17% of women in cybersecurity said they earned between $50,000 and $99,999 per year, a full 12 percentage points less than men. Given an already saturated job market, women are unlikely to take jobs in an industry where they know they will be paid a fraction of what their male colleagues make. Pay inequality cannot be fixed overnight. However, the long-term rewards cannot be overstated. Organizations that eradicate pay disparities can attract and retain more employees, unlock the numerous benefits of having a diverse workforce and improve team morale.

Eradicate Imposter Syndrome

Many people are under the false impression that they cannot pursue a career in cybersecurity because they need years of experience or a highly technical background. On the contrary, this industry has opportunities for nearly everyone. Advanced training classes and certifications can help candidates quickly gain the necessary technical skills they need for any role. Employers and hiring managers need to understand this and extend opportunities to those from diverse backgrounds who may not have had the traditional cybersecurity career trajectory.

Cybersecurity job descriptions often require college degrees, multiple certifications and years and years of experience in a variety of security disciplines. Many candidates who would be assets to organizations don’t apply because they assume that they are not qualified. Diverse and inclusive teams are the driving force behind successful companies. People of different genders, backgrounds, educational experiences, and skills bring a wealth of creativity and new ideas to the table that are often much more important than any formal degrees.

Make Training More Accessible

A 2020 Future of Jobs Report by the World Economic Forum found that by 2025, 50% of all employees will need reskilling. Organizations can tap into a much larger pool of workers if they build cyber skills internally with training, education and certification support for new and current employees. Enable new graduates, veterans, people transitioning from other careers, and those with an interest in and aptitude for cybersecurity to learn and grow. Reskilling employees who wish to switch careers through bootcamps, seminars, internships and on-the-job training is also a great way to add to the talent pool. 

Cyber attacks are continually increasing and the threats to businesses are evolving every day. The only way to start mitigating this is by filling the millions of open cybersecurity jobs. Diversity is the key to doing just that. Tap into new talent pools, reskill current employees so that they can both better protect your organization and further their own careers, and tear down the roadblocks keeping women and minorities from entering the industry. By diversifying hiring strategies and upskilling current employees, companies will see a real improvement in their security posture overall, along with increased employee satisfaction.

ThriveDX recently launched a Cybersecurity Apprenticeship Program which is creating job opportunities for diverse cybersecurity talent. Thanks to funding from strategic non-profit partnerships, we are choosing candidates to complete our immersive cybersecurity bootcamps at zero-cost. At the end, successful graduates will receive certification and be placed in a one-year apprenticeship with one of ThriveDX’s incredible partner organizations. A vast majority of these candidates can expect to be offered a full-time position at the end of their apprenticeship. To learn more about the Cybersecurity Apprenticeship Program visit,


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