Over the past couple of years, Diversity, Equity, Inclusion (DEI) has been the talk of the town, particularly in the cybersecurity and technology communities. You’ve probably gotten at least one company email about diversity and inclusion, watched a TED talk or attended some type of training or presentation.
Between all the arguing taking place online and between talking heads on TV, the concepts of DEI have been both eye-opening and confusing to many people. Discussing disparities, statistics and next steps have left many people less certain than when they began. And being ignorant to — or overwhelmed by — information can result in the same inaction.
If we can identify and refocus on a few simple blindspots, we can keep moving forward and create a workforce and world that’s based on fairness and welcoming diversity.
1. Implicit Bias in the Hiring Process
When we think of inequality in hiring, we tend to think of some egregious act — like a storefront sign saying, “Not hiring *insert race/gender/religion.” The reality is that these transgressions are far more subtle. When thinking about discrimination on a conscious level, we’re still only painting a partial picture. Whether we’re well-intentioned or not, we may unknowingly hold on to biases that create barriers and roadblocks for others.
Something as simple as posting a job exclusively on LinkedIn, for instance, can unintentionally block well-qualified, diverse candidates. Assuming that LinkedIn is the only viable resource for professional candidates creates a confirmation bias that can significantly diminish your talent pool.
Posting on diversity-centric job boards not only expands your candidate pool, but also sends a message about your company’s culture before a candidate applies. Dyversifi, The Muse, Power to Fly are examples of excellent resources for diversity recruitment and are great ways to promote your company culture. And while implicit bias can extend well-beyond the hiring process, checking these biases at the door can help affect change and prevent future setbacks.
2. The Language in Your Job Descriptions
Inclusivity in the language of a job description is often overlooked — and it’s very important. The way we structure the language in a description can not only limit the applicant pool, but it can fortify bias and further contribute to a non-diverse workplace.
Language can discourage certain candidates from applying, by using loaded or gender-specific words like dominant, leader, competitive, and others. Resources like this free gender decoder for job descriptions can help highlight these word choices and offer more inclusive replacements and recommendations.
Without identifying and understanding these nuances, many hiring managers are unknowingly limiting the type of talent that’ll be interested in applying for their roles.
3. Diversity and Inclusion Is Not Just an HR or PR Problem
There’s a misconception that DEI is only important to human resources or public relations — meaning litigation and public appearance.
To be clear, this is a serious concern as roughly 70,000 workplace discrimination cases are filed per year and an average settlement totals to $40,000 — and we’ve seen countless brands go under due to some public disaster. But the conversation doesn’t stop there.
DEI is necessary across the entire workplace as the world continues to evolve and we become increasingly aware of the very real barriers that exist for so many today. Studies show that diverse environments are not only more innovative and successful, but also increase productivity while reducing attrition. In an industry like cybersecurity where the skills and talent gaps are continuously growing, innovation, productivity and retention are crucial to bridging these gaps.
These concepts can seem difficult and overwhelming at times — perhaps even frustrating — but with the right approach and mindset, we can all look for opportunities to introduce positive changes within the organizations we work with and represent.