5 Ways to Write Diversity Inclusive & Gender Neutral Cyber Job Descriptions

5 Ways to Write Diversity Inclusive & Gender Neutral Cyber Job Descriptions

In a business or organization, Diversity and Inclusion are quite important. Because a company thrives when there is a pool of different thoughts within the team. Diverse teams bring diverse ideas and an opportunity for new outcomes.

Quite often, skilled and talented job applicants are intimidated by the job descriptions advertised on job postings/company’s website because the criteria for applying is either too rigid or excludes them. Both parties lose when this happens. The company misses out on getting talented people with the right skills and the applicant loses out on pursuing their dream career.

Writing inclusive job descriptions will contribute to the growth of your business. There are several ways to make your job descriptions and adverts more inclusive and gender-neutral, here’s how;

1. Avoid gendered language

It is important to avoid language that discriminates against other genders. Use pronouns that are not specific to one gender or another. For example rather than “He should have the required skills” or  “she should be able to” refer to the candidate specifically or use “they/them” pronouns. Using phrases like;

  • “The ideal candidate should have”,

  • “the person should be able to prove”,

  • “they should be skilled in”,

shows that the organization accepts all types of people. Gender Decoder is a great tool to use to fight subtle bias in your job ads.

2. Be aware of literacy and cognitive exclusion

Write your job adverts and descriptions with simple language to ensure that it does not require a high level of literacy to decode. Avoiding complex language and structure will help people who may have a learning disorder or trouble processing written language but can function on the job. Studies have shown people with dyslexia reporting that standard job descriptions and hiring processes stopped them from applying for certain jobs.

Also, using simpler language and structure will also include people with different levels of literacy as it relates to their age.

Write accessible content by keeping sentences short, keeping paragraphs short, and using plenty of white space. You can also use fonts like Arial, Comic Sans Verdana, Tahoma, Century Gothic, Trebuchet, Calibri, or Open Sans, as these are easier to read. Avoid underlined and italicized text, rather use bold for emphasis instead. Avoid industry jargon to keep your job descriptions as inclusive as possible. Tools like Grammarly and Hemingway Editor can streamline this process.

3. Only include “must-have” requirements in the job description

A hiring manager may have an extensive list of qualifications required for a given job. Yet to emphasize your dedication to diversity, it’s critical to manage the list. For example, rather than require a Bachelors’s degree, you could specify the number of years of relevant experience instead.

Studies show that while men are likely to apply to jobs for which they meet only 60% of the qualifications, women are much more likely to hesitate unless they meet 100% of the listed requirements. So, only include requirements for a role that is necessary and avoid “nice-to-have” or “bonus” requirements. This also means you should not require industry certifications such as CISSP, CISM, or similar as mandatory. Focus only on the most important requirements for a role, will increase the chances of acquiring diverse applicants.

4. Show dedication to diversity and inclusion

The company needs to showcase its commitment to diversity and inclusion by building a workspace where everyone is represented. This can also be done by creating diversity and inclusion programs for your organization. Including statements of commitment in your job description and on your company website, encourages people of all social classes and groups to apply.

5. Interview candidates with a diverse panel

It is important and advisable to make sure that your interviewing panel includes a diverse selection of your employees. This avoids unconscious biases from influencing the interview and hiring process. It also helps candidates feel more comfortable, and confident.

A company’s success is the success of its employees. Companies should commit to eliminating conscious and unconscious bias in job adverts and workplace culture. Also, training your recruiters to be more sensitive when hiring will have a positive effect on innovation within the company.

About Author:

Blessing Usoro is a cybersecurity consultant working with JP Morgan Chase as an Information Security Manager. She’s had a meteoric rise to being a prominent voice for women in cybersecurity in Ireland as a co-founder of Cyber Women Ireland, she’s driven by her passion for raising the bar in cybersecurity for all enterprises. She sits on the ICT Advisory Board of Dublin Business School providing expert advice to the cybersecurity curriculum and was recently named as one of the Top 100 Most Influential Women in Cybersecurity by Women4Cyber Europe.

Original post @Cyber Women Ireland here

Linkedin – https://linkedin.com/in/blessingausoro
Website – www.blessingusoro.com

A Day in the Life of A Cyber Security Professional – Interview with Fiona Murphy

A Day in the Life of A Cyber Security Professional – Interview with Fiona Murphy

Tell us about you?

I live with my partner and two Border terriers in Cork, however, up to late last year, I spent just a little over 19 years studying and working in Waterford.

Your background and journey to Cyber Security?

I qualified with a BSc in Commercial Software Development from Waterford Institute of Technology and immediately after finishing college I was fortunate to get a full-time role as a Service Desk agent. The role was to provide technical support to Global employees in a financial services company at their Waterford office.  After which I progressed into management leading various teams on the Service Desk.  Throughout that time I took a brief change of roles and managed an International Investments team. Returning to the desk for a couple of years and progressed to Senior Manager, which I really enjoyed, however, I wanted to come out of my comfort zone and try something different.

What is your typical day in Security Architecture and Planning?

My day can be a mixed bag of technical, business, and financial.  I work in the Security Architecture and Planning team, which involves working with the Architect on the security roadmap to ensure that a service or product that we are assessing meets the security needs of the organization.  That means working with various Security and IT teams, Legal and Finance teams, as well as vendors.

What are the challenges women are facing in Cyber Security?

Depending on what you read, women make up between 11% – 14% of the global cyber workforce.  We need to encourage more young girls to embrace their technical sides, and support them in their development.

What I commonly hear from women within the industry is they feel like they are being underestimated regardless of their qualifications.  There are great intentions out there to encourage more women into Security and some men are truly authentic supporters, but there’s still some unconscious bias going on that needs to be addressed.  Good news for future professionals, there’s a whole bunch of us challenging this every day, and we need supporters and allies to address these biases when they see them.

Job descriptions – The industry needs to get better at writing more gender-neutral job descriptions. We know that this increases the talent pool and helps to bring a diverse set of candidates. All of which have the potential to benefit the organization.

Lack of awareness around the different roles – There are great opportunities for people with diverse skill-sets.  Software engineers, data scientists, project managers, business system Analysts, Operation Managers, Strategic analysts, Security Analysts, Psychology and behavior analytics, Fraud and Financial analysts, Mathematicians, Network and Infrastructure specialists, the list goes on.  Malicious characters are always trying to find a way inside, we need people to understand how to protect, defend, manage, analyze, and implement security controls.

Tips for women entering Cyber Security? 

Talking to someone in the industry can be very beneficial. Search the Meet-Up site/app for security groups in your area.  I follow Cork|Sec and to be honest I felt slightly intimated before I went to my first event, but they were very welcoming and their goal is to help you learn.  Definitely make a point in speaking to the organizers and let them know you are interested in a career in security.

If you are thinking about switching careers, one tip is to talk to someone in your security department at work if there is one. This is how I changed careers and it started with a conversation with one of the directors, explaining my interests, what I thought my strengths were, and to see if any of those matched.

There are some great cyber women on social media who I follow that have helped me along the way. Jenny-Radcliff is also known as @PeopleHacker on Twitter and has a Human Factor Security channel on YouTube. She explains things well, particularly if you haven’t a background in security.

Women In Security Podcast by Lifen Tan has great interviews with some of the top women in Security.  It’s new but she’s getting great guests with really helpful insights on how to pursue a career within security.

Don’t underestimate your abilities, bet on yourself, you will be surprised.  You don’t have to be an expert at each area of security, and as someone coming from the outside, I’ve noticed patterns within security where you begin to talk about the same things repeatedly and suddenly it all makes sense.

How can we encourage girls to opt for Cybersecurity studies?

Security and Privacy are now a crucial part of the operations of a business. Daily, you hear of a new breach across all industries, so to me, security needs to be a module in business, financial, science, and IT courses.  We need to widen the net to attract more people to work within the industry, and take advantage of the business opportunities within Security.

There are multiple types of roles within Cyber Security that require diverse skill sets and thinking.  Whether that’s in management, project management, red team/blue team, operations, or strategic planning, there’s a whole range of areas people can study.

I do some education awareness programs with colleges and what I have found is that some of the young women in those courses took a chance on security, some with no IT background, and some who are returning to the workforce after time away. Others have a passion for IT and they want to develop their skills further. It’s really a mixed bunch, but they all signed up for the courses to learn something different and exciting.

If third-level education is not the path for you, try a FIT apprenticeship program. I’ve recruited previous students from FIT and those students have been very successful in their roles.  You can also take online courses or use Cybrary which provides free online courses.

A lot of colleges have open days, make sure to approach the IT Security department to ask about their course.  If you are in transition year and need to do work experience, ask someone you know who works in IT or security if you can get some experience, and if you don’t know anyone, send an IT security firm an email and express your interest.

You mentioned you work remotely – how easy or challenging is that?

Working from home suits me, because of the type of work that I do.  I spend a lot of time in meetings with colleagues and vendors across North America and I also need to spend time researching vendors and services.  Our company is great in that it provides me with tools that enable me to work remotely. I rarely feel disconnected because of these tools.

However, I still like to connect back with my colleagues so I visit the office a couple of times a month.  To be honest, when I moved back to Cork I was worried I may have to leave my role, as I like the company I worked for, the people, and what I was doing.  I was very fortunate to have a supportive management team.  It was great because I could still work for them and they didn’t have the expense of recruiting someone else.

I would say working from home doesn’t suit everyone and not every job is suitable for work from home.  There are times when I do miss the office environment, but you adapt.

One of the first things you need to learn is to adjust the way you communicate.  If you are used to seeing people face to face daily, you need to make an effort to communicate more, and likewise so does your manager. Check-in with close colleagues, call them rather than email.  Make sure that when there are meetings planned that you send a message to the organizer before the meeting to let them know you are dialing in remotely so you are not missing any pre-meeting conversations.

Always being online.  Initially, I felt like I always had to be available so I could respond to someone’s messages immediately, for fear that they thought I was slacking,  which is a quite common feeling I hear from people when they first work from home.  However, you don’t work like this in the office and you soon realize that’s not manageable.  There will be times you will need a 10-minute breather after a really intense meeting.

I get more done when I work from home as I don’t have as many interruptions which is a positive, especially if we have a deadline or I have a lot to do. However, I am quite clear about my finish time.  If I have a late meeting, then I start work later, or I decline it/reschedule it.  It’s actually easier to leave the office at home than the office at work.

Stay involved. I like to keep up to date with company news and take part in company events.  I’ll also try to align my days in the office with company events or when executive leaders are visiting. I also make a point of setting aside time to meet up with people for a quick catch-up, especially with those I mentor.

I designed my office space at home.  So it’s set up the way I like it and it’s spacious.  If you are working from home, here’s a good tip, buy a decent chair! Don’t use the kitchen chair, it’s going to hurt your back. Personalizing my workplace was something I enjoyed doing and I enjoy the time I spend in my home office.

Better for the environment, better health – I’m not driving to work that often so fewer emissions, and I’m also not adding to that very large line of traffic!  I’ve also started walking during my lunch breaks, which helps me to break up the day. A quick 15 -30 minute walk can do the world of good for your mental health, as it can break up your workday. I’d recommend you do this in the office too if you can.

How do you manage your work-life balance? What keeps you sane? Any hobbies?

Yes, you definitely need your time away from everything, whether that’s work or taking care of family, I’m a big advocate of taking time out for yourself. You can’t give back if you are not refueling yourself.

You need to define what is acceptable for you and what your limits are with work.  Whether that is to finish at 6 pm every day, with the only exceptions being the critical issues. If there’s a critical issue every day, then that’s a problem and you need to have a good chat with your manager.

I have a retired gelding that I love spending time with.  I used to participate in Riding club activities with him which meant I was very busy in the evenings and weekends.  I love being in the outdoors and especially enjoy walking in the countryside with my two energetic border terriers. I spend a lot of time thinking so walking definitely helps me make sense of everything.

I’ve recently discovered the joy of podcasts too, I know, I’m late to the game.  On occasion I inadvertently find myself listening to my partner’s podcasts, which are typically Arseblog or IGN.  I’m not a fan of football, but I can definitely say that Arsenal is hoping for the top four again this year!  The IGN podcasts are actually quite good, especially when they attend events like the DICE summit or E3.

What advice can you give to companies who haven’t adopted remote work for their employees?

I work for a global company and our IT teams have worked very hard to ensure our employees can work anywhere any time.  This has been such a positive in our company and it makes you feel like you are working for a company that trusts its people, is modern in the way we work and the tools we use has access to talent in a global environment and makes an effort to ensure those working remotely feel included.   One of the biggest advantages is that if you live in one of the larger cities and you have an hour commute to work each way, working from home 1-2 days during the week can save on those commute times and puts less stress on the person traveling.

Give your employees the tools to do their jobs effectively.  Ensure you provide the technology to work remotely, some of the basics like VPN, Softphones, Web Conference tools, instant messaging tools are essential. Make it easy to work remotely and ensure that the tools you put in place perform at a high level with strong security and that you train your employees on how to use those tools.

Educate and build awareness programs for your employees about keeping secure while working remotely. Make sure they know about not connecting to untrusted/ unsecured Wi-Fi networks, e.g. free Wi-Fi at the airport or coffee shops.  Look out for shoulder surfers, or people listening to your phone conversations in public places.

If you have doubts, implement a work from the home pilot with some departments and monitor the results of both the employees and managers.  Make sure to set the pilot up for success and work with the teams to define the expectations of the pilot.  Give it about 6 months as managers and employees learn how to work in a new way.

Interview with Fiona Murphy, Information Security strategic initiatives & Cyber Women Ireland Co-Founder.

A Day in the Life of a Cyber Security Professional interview by Dina Vyapuri


Follow the Sun

Follow the Sun

”Follow the sun” is a term we hear a lot from companies offering 24/7 support to their customers. Running a smooth operations of Technical Support or SOC team to perform at their best specially night shifts can be challenging.

Often when hiring companies stress a lot on the technical abilities of the person without taking into consideration the ”Human Factor”. Having a team performing at their peak and in a state of flow requires fine tuning. This goes beyond technical abilities, salary package or extra benefits.

Sleep and the Circadian System

The circadian system keeps us in sync with the 24-hour day. The internal clock is to regulate when you feel alert and when you’re ready to sleep. We each have our own internal clock that differs from one another – hence the term ”Night Owl and ”Early Bird”. So, if a team consist of 30% ”Early Birds” on a late/night shift performance is likely to be low, more mistakes and drop outs happens.

Artificial bright lights

There are adverse consequences of shift work for performance, safety, and health which is contributed to extensive exposure to artificial bright lights. Having a ceiling-mounted LED luminaires, which can be adjusted to provide light of varying intensity and colour temperature might be a good solution. Another approach is to use blue light. Blue wavelength of light suppresses the body’s natural production of melatonin, the hormone that regulates sleep. This can have a profound effect on an individual’s wakefulness.

Shifts patterns

Having a routine shifts pattern for employees ideally 4-on 4 off so that employees can get enough sunlight exposure is important for the wellbeing of staffs.

Relaxing, sleeping pods space

Having a relaxing space where employees can rest or take a quick nap will increase performance.

Creating a Culture of Health

Shift work, by its very nature, creates an impediment for health eating. Workers are often forced to make food choices that are convenient. A healthy body is more resilient and provides companies with workers who are more productive, alert and efficient.  Ensuring that the kinds of foods provided at on-site dining facilities and break rooms include healthier choices.

Having a happy, healthy workforce performing at a state of flow is good for business! Small changes for better performance = non-disruptive 24/7 service. I also recommend the book ”Chasing the Sun” by Linda Geddes to understand the effects of sun exposure or lack of it. It is a must read for HR or anyone leading a 24/7 team operation to understand how the human body clocks works.

Do you have other ideas on how to create a better 24/7 operation team? I would be interested to know more.