– Deidre Diamond, Founder & CEO
The “#brainbabe” leadership platform and non-profit securediversity.org was born out of frustration that “booth babes” still exist. Calling a person a #brainbabe isn’t about calling them a “babe,” or about how someone looks. It’s about pushing back on the technology community to look at why we still have “booth babes,” and supporting necessary changes to better attract and utilize women in cyber security. For the few of you who don’t like the name—we will change it when booth babes no longer exist! I was inspired to create #brainbabe in February of 2015 when I saw an article published about RSA’s “ban” on booth babes. While reading it with my fellow teammates, I said out loud, “Let’s not just talk about the clothes that these women are wearing and ban them—let’s train them! Let’s make them ‘brain babes’.” At that moment, my team and I decided we were going to help make a difference in solving the problem of women leaving tech and also help encourage more women to join the cyber security community by creating the non-profit securediversity.org. My team and I love the name #brainbabe because I frequently talk to them about the brain and about making conscious decisions. I find the brain to be very fascinating and so I wanted to highlight decision-making and active thinking with our name. I’ve worked in the technology industry for twenty-one years and in that time booth babes have always existed. I’ve often wondered why many tech companies don’t train booth babes to actually be knowledgeable about their products and services, but it wasn’t until I read the article from RSA 2015 that I was inspired to speak out. Call it the timing of my career, call it frustration, call it a desire to help; it’s certainly a combination all of these things. As a woman who was hired as an entry-level employee with a liberal arts degree and trained to lead sales teams for tech companies, who has been the CEO of a software company, and who is currently the Founder and CEO of a cyber security company, I have a lot of content and enthusiasm to offer the tech community about training people—specifically, women. As I thought more and more about booth babes and the overall lack of women in tech—not to mention the shortage of cyber security professionals overall (to the tune of over a million people, and ISC2 reports that only “approximately 10% of InfoSec professionals” are women) — I realized that the following three concepts can make a difference in solving this massive problem:
- Redefining what it means to be in cyber security. Instead of only defining cyber security roles as high-tech positions, we must consider all the roles that don’t require this skill set in order to get more people involved in the field. We need to speak more about all people joining the cyber community via positions that are not traditionally technical. These roles require “business skills” and have nothing to do with being able to write code or understand network protocols. By redefining what it means to be in cyber security we can attract the college graduates who think they wouldn’t be a good fit for cyber security jobs because they “aren’t technical.”
- Training, training, and more training. I was trained as an entry-level person and was part of a model that trains entry-level people for non-technical and technical jobs in technology companies. We need more commercial organizations to take responsibility in training—especially consistent training. We need fully thought-out roles and responsibilities that people can work hard at to move up the ladder, along with clear definitions of how to do so. Our military is a good place to mimic: they have training down. You will never hear a military person say, “I don’t know what my role is.” In the commercial space we hear this every day. In my world, training is mentorship!
- Improved communication skills between men and women, among women, and among men. Enhanced soft skills allow for greater retention of employees (both women and men), more revenue and happier work environments. I have seen this work first-hand over my entire career. Some of these imperative soft skills are: how to hold win/win conversations; how to make agreements; how to break agreements; how to take accountability for mistakes and wins; how to have transparency in the workplace; how to lead by example; how to work in a calendar; and the art of listening, among others.
Today, the #brainbabe platform is passing on knowledge and communication empowerment by way of speaking events where trained #brainbabe ambassadors (both male and female) and myself will share our skills, stories and experiences. Soon, the #brainbabe platform will be hosting free training videos on the skills listed above (and more) at securediversity.org. These videos are focused on lean language and execution of win/win communication. We are also now offering an anonymous message board for women and men to post about the experiences and challenges of working together. We envision securediversity.org to be a place where anyone can post about his or her work experiences and receive feedback. Awareness seems to be low on the sides of both women and men, so let’s share stories and offer advice in a safe way. Together, we can raise awareness around the challenges we face each day in communicating with one another. Working together, we can create powerfully positive work environments. We can attract more women into cyber security while fostering the lean language, interpersonal and communication skills needed to retain them 🙂 Please support the #brainbabe platform and follow us on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn for more updates. Thank you for caring, Deidre
Strengthening the Cyber Security Community with Love?
– Kyle Kennedy, President
Hello cyber security friends, After spending 20+ years in business, technology and cybersecurity leadership, having a degree in sociology and two graduate degrees, and having worked for Fortune 100s and startups – I know that the topic of gender isn’t easy for most men to talk about. Men are afraid of “saying the wrong thing,” being perceived as lacking empathy or being stigmatized for what they feel is their way of “trying to be honest.” This is where I believe the power of love and a common communication framework can truly create an environment that allows us to be open, honest and direct with each other—enabling real, powerful, actionable change. The lack of Women in Technology (WIT) and Women in Cybersecurity (WICS) is already a conversation that many have broached. However, a lack of representation in the workforce is becoming an issue of national security. Not being able to talk openly, directly and honestly about this could very well lead to the unfolding of a catastrophic threat or event. If we don’t have the resources available while working shoulder-to-shoulder to defend against the growing cyber security threats evolving in our daily lives, how can we defend beyond the threat of “financial loss”? Connected devices now rule our lives: cars, planes, trains, medical devices and core infrastructure – the list goes on. Our threat surfaces expand daily around us and to secure them, we must work together. It’s clear to me we must create actionable change together in the cyber security community. This actionable change starts with us—men and women—engaging more effectively with one another. Let’s look at this effort from a different perspective: Women: Fathers, Husbands, Brothers, Cousins, Boyfriends, Friends Men: Mothers, Wives, Sisters, Cousins, Girlfriends, Friends The types of people referenced above illustrate the various types of men that are involved in a woman’s’ life, and vice versa. These people profoundly impact us as humans. We have joyous moments in our lives with them. We can also have tragedy and heartache. We have incredible conversations with these individuals and sometimes we have the most challenging conversations that generate incredible emotion—yet all of this comes from a place of love within us. Therefore the effort to engage men in the conversation around the lack of women in technology and cyber security should be relatively straightforward. However, that doesn’t appear to be the case. The questions proposed below are questions that we at #brainbabe that we hope will help men and women interact more effectively, creating powerful change within every organization through a love-based communication framework:
- How can we as men educate ourselves about the value of diversity in the workplace to create a culture that supports women in cyber security?
- How can we as men enhance our skills and provide skills development to others to take true action around the lack of women in technology and cyber security?
- How can we as men help organizations redesign work so that women and working families are more supported in the cyber security industry?
- As a man, why should you care about securediversity.org?
The top five (5) reasons I believe all men should care about securediversity.org: 1. I want to be an agent of change through action 2. I want to be better at and in my job 3. I want to be a better husband / partner 4. I want to be a better father / mentor 5. I want to be a better human Why as a woman should you care about securediversity.org? The top five (5) reasons I believe all women should care about securediversity.org: 1. I want to be an agent of change through action 2. I want to be better at and in my job 3. I want to be a better wife / partner / support other women 4. I want to be a better mother / mentor to young women and men 5. I want to be a better human The reasons are the same for both women and men from my perspective; so let’s work together and truly make change together in the cyber security community and industry to enable us, our children, and our children’s children to protect our lives, our families, our towns, our cities and our nation and truly work together as one. To learn more about securediversity.org follow us on Twitter @brain_babe, and find us on Facebook: here Cheers! Kyle Kennedy