The cybersecurity industry has a labor problem. In the United States, there are less than half of the candidates needed to fill open cybersecurity jobs, but that skills gap is only part of the puzzle. In 2019, women only made up about 20 percent of the global cybersecurity workforce.

What can organizations and institutions do to close the gender gap in cybersecurity, and ultimately, the cyber skills gap? Research shows that to build strong cyber teams, employers and the wider industry need to make cybersecurity a welcoming career for all.

To understand ECS’ approach towards equitable and inclusive cyber teams, we spoke to a few of the women leading our cyber teams. We are continually inspired by these women and look forward to keeping the conversation going.

BEVERLY
GOODWIN

EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF MANAGED SECURITY SERVICES

SHAYLA
TREADWELL

EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF CYBERSECURITY COMPLIANCE

JOANNA
DEMPSEY

PROGRAM MANAGER, DHS CDM DASHBOARD PROGRAM

ERIN
GODINEZ

SENIOR IT OPERATIONS MANAGER AT ECS | CDM DASHBOARD

How do you approach diversity and equity challenges within your team?

There is a tendency people have where they think no one is paying attention to their behavior. Making it known that people are heard and seen is important when identifying diversity and equity challenges. With recent events coming to light, I assumed that people knew that I condemn any type of hate within my team, but I had a team member reach out to me and let me know that they needed me to acknowledge what was going on. After addressing this directly with the team, we all felt relieved that there was more space to talk safely to address these issues.

Joanna DempseyProgram Manager, Cyber CDM Dashboard Project

What are some characteristics that you think make a team successful?

Cognitive diversity. It is so important that you don’t let groupthink get in the way. Identify people with different backgrounds and experiences so that you can come to an agreement and make the best decision for everyone. Allow people to highlight things you wouldn’t otherwise think about as well.

Shayla TreadwellExecutive Director of Cybersecurity Compliance

How do you handle a situation when you don’t agree with the group consensus, let’s say in a meeting?

Generally, if I don’t agree with something, it goes against my nature to not speak up. But, I have learned from experience to disagree gracefully. Audience matters! You don’t know how many others have the same thought as you, and they may be relying on someone else to speak up. For women in particular, we are socialized to be agreeable, and that makes it doubly important to speak out if you disagree to set the right example for other women.

Erin GodinezSenior IT Operations Manager at ECS | CDM Dashboard

What are the top three habits that you would recommend to someone seeking a leadership role?

1

Lead by example.

Be willing to follow the same rules and practices you expect from your team. This habit will help establish expectations and build trust with your employees. The recent workplace changes in response to COVID-19 have presented many opportunities to lead by example. All of us have had to adapt to remote work and stressful video meetings with kids or pets in the background. I’ve also learned through frequent check-ins with staff that they are tending to work longer hours and experiencing burnout from never leaving the workplace. As leaders, we need to recognize how these changes impact work life balance and encourage employees to factor in breaks and establish boundaries between work and home life.
2

Communicate vision and goals clearly.

It is very difficult to lead a team if they don’t grasp their larger goal and vision. Refresh and remind your team why their work adds value and where they fit into the bigger picture.
3

Stay calm under pressure.

Challenges arise every day, and how you respond makes the difference. Women often feel that we need to be perfect in every situation, but we don’t. Letting go of this expectation helps us to reframe challenges and stay focused on what’s important, especially during stressful situations. When facing challenges, practice responding over reacting. Take a deep breath, ask questions to understand the problem, and guide teams through effective solutions.

“”

Beverly GoodwinExecutive Director of Managed Security Services

At ECS, we believe in diversity and inclusion at all levels. If you are looking for a career in cybersecurity where you can make a difference, apply to one of our open positions today.

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