Director’s Cut (Q4 2020 Issue)

It’s no secret that I’m proud of our industry. In fact, I could reel off a list of all the things I love about it without needing to hesitate. It’s impressively innovative, it’s incredibly fast-paced, its people are undeniably smart, capable and helpful, and above all else, it’s an industry that does good. Its intentions are pure, its objective is virtuous and the cause is worthy.

Of course, no one, and no thing, is perfect. Let’s be honest, when it comes to diversity, the information security industry hasn’t always been a trailblazer. Try as we may, there’s still never a queue for the ladies’ room (every cloud and all) and there’s almost always a sea of white faces at any industry event you attend. I could go on with other examples, but my point is that when I decided to write a feature on LGBTQ+ in cybersecurity for this issue (p.12), I was sinfully pessimistic about how the story would take shape on the back of the interviews and research I would conduct.

Before I began interviews for the feature, I did a poll with over 100 Infosecurity readers asking whether their organization has an LGBTQ+ group, initiative, committee and/or gender-neutral facilities. Interestingly, 43% of our readers shared that they do and a further 3% said that plans are in place to implement one or all of these things. When I first saw this result, I was actually quite pleasantly surprised. By the end of writing the article, after hearing the stories that I did, I was surprised that statistic hadn’t been higher.

“Cybersecurity companies want to make members of the LGBTQ+ community feel not just accepted, but celebrated”

Instead of hearing tales of an industry so stagnated by lack of diversity that its ability to open doors for the LGBTQ+ community is compromised, or stories of job opportunities or progressions being obstructed by narrow-minded lack of progressiveness or unconscious bias, I heard accounts of acceptance, progression and hope. Actually, I don’t think ‘hope’ does this narrative justice. It suggests a desire and expectation for things to change, when in fact, from the multiple accounts I heard, they already have.

I recognize that these accounts do not represent every lived LGBTQ experience. I’m not naïve, but believe me when I say I went in pursuit of all accounts and experiences. Perhaps people are more likely to talk if there’s an easier or more positive story to tell? I didn’t want to paint a pretty picture if it’s not a pretty reality. The truth is, I struggled to find people who had negative stories to share. Which, I concluded, was a good problem to have.

What I found were members of the LGBTQ+ community wanting to share their stories. They’ve been met with acceptance, with understanding and with unity. I found cybersecurity companies who want to create cultures, organizations and buildings with facilities that make members of the LGBTQ+ community feel not just accepted, but celebrated.

The industry, in droves, is not just supporting equality, it is going one step further and is acting in ways that aren’t just not homophobic or not transphobic, but that are anti-homophobic and anti-transphobic.

Indeed, Grizzly Information Security Services, with a staff made up of 75% LGBTQ+ representation, made the decision to actively market their company as a supporter of LGBTQ+. The decision caused disruption, they lost some of their staff as a result, but CEO and CISO William Worthington has no regrets. “We get to choose who we give our services to,” he told me, and quite rightly, they only want to give those services to people who support their stance on diversity.

These accounts of people being bold and brave and fighting for diversity are more than reassuring, they are heart-warming. I’d like to thank everyone who talked to me, so openly and honestly, about this topic.

As I wrote at the beginning, some of the best things about this industry are its ability to innovate and evolve. Writing the LGBTQ+ feature opened my eyes to the industry’s ability to grow, not just technically, but ethically and culturally too. Cybersecurity is progressive, in every sense of the word, and that’s why my pride (excuse the pun) for this industry has never been greater.

I don’t think I’ve ever been as keen for a year to end as I am as we put this issue to bed. There’s nothing left to say to 2020 other than good riddance.

I wish you all a season as festive as it possibly can be and we’ll see you all on the other side.

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