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Microsoft Security

Working towards a more diverse future in security

Last year I embarked on an exercise to examine diversity in cybersecurity. As one full year has passed, I decided to revisit this topic and the ongoing challenges of recruiting AND retaining diverse talent in the cybersecurity field. This past year saw the #MeToo movement in the spotlight, and while women’s issues were brought to the forefront, there are still opportunities to improve. I want to share new learnings based on my experiences this year and as an update to my earlier post, How to solve the diversity problem in security.

Two personal interactions that are top of mind reinforced my belief there is much work to be done. If you follow me on Twitter (@ajohnsocyber) I commented on both at the time they occurred. In one instance, I was interviewing a candidate for a role in my organization. We were discussing MFA, and he felt the need to stop me, educate and inform me of the error of my thinking. I don’t claim to be a subject matter expert about all topics related to cybersecurity—no one could be—but I know a fair bit about MFA. His dismissive tone and attitude certainly did not set the right tone of an interview. The second incident occurred whilst I was presenting to a large group of customers. A male colleague interrupted me to say, “What she meant to say was….” Actually, what I meant to say was exactly what I said —but thank you for that moment of classic mansplaining. You see, no matter your rank, role, position or expertise, there are still those who choose to minimize your knowledge, expertise or experience. While I cannot definitively say these two incidents occurred because I am a woman, I can tell you the candidate feedback from male interviewees was not the same, and the man in question did not interrupt male speakers at the same event where he interrupted me.

So, as I revisit this blog post for 2018, I also want to highlight some really positive events of the past 12 months. Microsoft believes in diversity 365 days a year, and we demonstrate it with solid actions. I am inspired not only by the women leaders in our organization, but also by our strong male allies who advocate for recruiting and promoting diverse talent. We simply cannot accomplish this work without the support of male allies. I am fortunate, at Microsoft, to actively and frequently work with a large group of well-known security professionals – including many talented women. I look forward to meeting and working with many more who are surely part of this company now or who will be compelled to join. We continue to invest in talent that challenges the way we think, talent that changes the organization, talent that truly embraces the “learn it all, not know it all” culture our CEO Satya Nadella has built.

So, whilst as an industry we have a long road ahead of us to fully embrace diversity, we have planted the seeds. In my thirty years in tech, I have never felt the energy or seen this level of commitment and passion toward inclusion. I am proud to be part of the solution and fully committed to helping steer the ship….