Enterprises worldwide are facing a cybersecurity talent shortage crisis while attacks are increasing daily and causing damages in hundreds of billions of dollars a year, according to the FBI’s latest Internet Crime Report. According to research, 80% of organizations worldwide attribute one or more breaches to a lack of cybersecurity talent and skills.

In addition, there’s a severe lack of diversity within the industry. The gender gap in cyber positions in the U.S. is wide with just 24% of women making up the workforce versus 75% of men, according to ISC2 2022 Cybersecurity Workforce Study. Minorities are also largely underrepresented and account for just 26% of employees. This lack of diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) can lead to greater risks as less diverse teams may not possess a full range of perspectives and ideas to effectively combat threats.

Addressing these challenges can’t come from the existing cyber talent pool but will require reskilling new candidates into cybersecurity positions. These candidates can come from within the organization, for example reskilling an employee from information technology (IT) to security or from external channels and diverse backgrounds.

The solution can be implemented in these three, simple steps:

  1. Screening your current workforce for high-potential employees.
  2. Training and reskilling employees for cybersecurity roles.
  3. Matching trained employees with a new position within the organization.

When done effectively, unbiased screening of potential candidates, proper training and talent matching of cybersecurity candidates can both increase a company’s diversity and its overall security. Let’s take a look at each step in more detail.

How to Grow a Diverse Cybersecurity Team

  1. Unbiased screening.

Unbiased screening is the fastest and most efficient way of assessing potential cyber employees and making sure they will fit into a desired cyber role, while systematically increasing diversity on your team. Screening candidates to identify high-potential talent and provide access to a diverse talent pool is the first step. This can be achieved by customizing the assessment process and evaluating candidates’ aptitude regardless of their current skills or knowledge in cybersecurity. By quickly comparing candidates, organizations can save time and resources by efficiently hiring the top diverse talent with the highest skill levels throughout their cybersecurity workforce.

  1. Training.

Training employees post-screening is the most important component of cultivating a human-centric security program and safe workforce. With millions of open cybersecurity jobs globally, filling skills gaps will require training both new employees entering the workforce for the first time and reskilling already existing and experienced employees who may want to switch careers. Following the screening process and identifying potential candidates for reskilling, implementing industry-driven, government-grade training programs is the best way to ensure that learners are properly educated with the knowledge and skills needed to effectively address modern security threats.

These training programs should provide skills-based learning that is based on real-world scenarios. Employees should gain hands-on experience in responding to actual threats, allowing them to develop practical skills and apply their knowledge in a realistic environment. Additionally, organizations should track data that gives insight into learners’ performance and identify areas of improvement.

  1. Matching.

Finally, effective talent matching post-training can allow organizations to match their open positions to newly skilled talent. Following the training program, a simple talent matching process can allow employers to take participants who’ve already been screened and properly trained and match them with the position that is going to most effectively utilize these new capabilities and skills. In this way, screening, training and talent matching can become a full-circle solution to increase diversity and overall cybersecurity across an organization.

Moving Forward

Addressing the talent and skills shortage challenge in cybersecurity while promoting diversity and inclusion is crucial for organizations seeking to enhance their security posture and mitigate human factor risks. By adopting a structured learning and development (L&D) program, reskilling and upskilling the workforce and implementing effective screening, proper training and talent matching strategies, organizations can create a more robust and diverse cybersecurity workforce.

This approach can not only improve security outcomes, but also yield numerous benefits such as increased diversity, reduced hiring costs, improved employee retention, and a stronger global brand and reputation as a cybersecurity leader. Embracing these solutions can help organizations navigate the evolving cybersecurity landscape while fostering a culture of DEI.