Minorities in Cybersecurity, ‘MiC’ - a Movement - In conversation with Mary N. Chaney

The cybersecurity industry is suffering. Suffering from a lack of talent in general and a lack of diverse talent in particular. Research overwhelmingly shows that diversity leads to better-performing teams and better-performing companies. So what can the industry do to improve diversity and ultimately its success?

We’re in conversation with Mary N. Chaney, a highly energetic, passionate woman on a mission. And by the way, she’s a cybersecurity professional with more than 25 years of experience in the industry; first as a Special Agent for the FBI and since then in various executive-level information security and privacy roles for companies worldwide. Currently the Chairwoman, CEO, and President of Minorities in Cybersecurity, and the founder of MiC Talent Solutions Inc., Mary is dedicated to fixing cybersecurity’s talent and diversity gap in two ways: first, by recruiting and developing talent from underrepresented groups at all career stages; and second, by connecting that talent with top companies.

Mary, we know that diversity makes teams better. Why is there still a shortage of minority talent in the field of cybersecurity? And what do you see as the solution?

“Intuitively we know diversity matters. Companies know it, their employees know it, and the recruiters know it. Despite this widespread common knowledge, many organizations still lack diverse teams. One may ask why? With highly skilled and diverse talent pools, how can companies not have diverse employees? The answers to these questions are rarely satisfactory. My goal is to change that. Not change the answers, but change the phenomenon altogether — focusing on Minorities in Cybersecurity as a start.

“The cybersecurity industry has both an attraction and a retention problem when it comes to talent. The need to change this made me create MiC — Minorities in Cybersecurity.

“The issue starts at the source — ineffective and outmoded hiring practices. Hiring teams are made up of all or mostly all white men who recruit from the same old organizations and schools — resulting in the same outcomes year after year. This cycle needs to be broken — homogenous hiring teams will result in homogenous employees. Experience and common sense tell us that to attract talent from underrepresented groups, hiring teams need to look more like the communities they are trying to recruit from, and the companies need real connections in those communities.

“That’s where an organization like MiC comes in. At MiC, we maintain a diverse pool of 12,000 professionals from historically underrepresented communities in cybersecurity. Our goal is to support and develop those professionals so they can excel in the industry long-term. We then partner with companies and their HR departments, acting as an extension of their recruiting and hiring teams.”

Why do you do that, in other words, what do you offer them that they don’t have?

“Good question. We are able to give those teams access and connections to a pool of talent made up of professionals that are not only more diverse than those they would reach otherwise, but also better equipped to help companies thrive and succeed. By partnering with MiC, companies gain access to ‘previously unknown’ diverse and top-tier talent.

“It’s important to note that not all talent is created equal and that filling entry-level jobs is much easier than filling leadership positions. At MiC, we work closely with the professionals in our pool to help them develop the skills needed for a long-term career in cybersecurity. If the people on your cybersecurity team are constantly growing and learning, you can look inside your organization to develop the next generation of leadership.

“At MiC, we partner with companies to attract and retain the best and the brightest pros in the industry. MiC isn’t just an organization — its a movement to drive change, increase diversity in cybersecurity and ensure that top talent is recognized, nurtured, and constantly growing.”

Thank you, Mary, for sharing your insights.

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And for anyone who wants to join or connect with MiC or MiC Talent Solutions, whether from a mentor, sponsor, donor, corporate or passion perspective, please contact us at membership@mincybsec.org or visit https://www.mincybsec.org/

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