Cybercrime is now the most profitable illegal business in the world, with approximately 6 trillion dollars spent annually on damages as of 2021. The impact of cybercrime is being felt by companies all over the world, but it especially affects Black-owned businesses whose population is underrepresented in tech by over 50%. Only 3% of information security analysts in the U.S. are Black, and as of 2019 women represent only 20% of the global cybersecurity workforce. Thankfully, many organizations have noticed this inequality and are taking steps to change the situation by creating cybersecurity inititatives to encourage black professionals to join and excel in the industry. Here we outline some of those cybersecurity initiatives supporting black professionals in an effort to reduce the gender and racial gap that still exists within cybersecurity:
International Consortium of Minority Cybersecurity Professionals
The International Consortium of Minority Cybersecurity Professionals helps to improve minority representation in cybersecurity through programs focused on recruitment, inclusion, and retention. Founded by Larry Whiteside, Jr., Carlos Edwards, and Devon Bryan, ICMCP offers free or discounted cybersecurity training with partners such as SANS Institute, Fortinet, and Cybervista to name a few. As part of their mission, the ICMCP aims to “tackles the ‘great cyber divide’ with scholarship opportunities, diverse workforce development, innovative outreach, and mentoring programs.” To learn more about membership opportunities, click here.
Founded by Tia Hopkins, Empow(H)er Cybersecurity focuses on advancing women of color interested in or currently working in cybersecurity. They host community events, mentorship programs, and a safe space for women of color to network and connect. They also offer three different program tracks through the E(H)C Institute:
- Professional Development through a 4-month program divided into eight 2-week long segments.
- Technical Development where you have access to one-on-one mentorship, a 6-month complimentary Cybrary Insider Pro membership, and the option to have the cost of a certification exam sponsored by the E(H)C Institute.
- Personal Development through a 6-week program that provides feedback and validation from industry experts.
You can find more information about membership opportunities here.
Blacks in Cybersecurity
Blacks in Cybersecurity is a community that looks to bring together Black professionals within the cybersecurity industry. Founded by Michaela Barnett, part of their mission involves “spearheading the way to solving the disparity between the Black community and Cybersecurity knowledge and resources.” They host conferences, community events, training, and job opportunities. Rather than just being focused on training, this is more of an all-around networking opportunity to help black people within the industry connect with each other. You can find more information about membership opportunities here.
Synack is a cybersecurity company that has partnered with Blacks in Cybersecurity to launch the Synack Academy. This cohort program aims to provide “up-and-coming individuals from underrepresented minority groups access to career pathways in technology and/or cybersecurity through structured, support-driven training and mentorship.” To register interest for the Phase 1 Red Team Training cohort for high school students, click here.
The International Organization of Black Security Executives (IOBSE)
IOBSE was founded by Berele S. Brereton, Curtis Hayes, George Logan, Marshall Thomas, Oliver Wainwright, and Stonewall Scott when they attended an American Society for Industrial Security conference. The reason they created this non-profit was because they were “concerned about the relatively small number of minority professionals, and the role black security professionals could have in helping young people.” IOBSE offers scholarships to minority students interested in IT security as well as events for black cybersecurity professionals to meet one another. You can find more information about membership opportunities here.
Women in Security and Privacy (WISP)
WISP is focused on advancing women into leadership positions in privacy and security. Founded by Elena Elkina, Alya Gennaro, Kenesa Ahmad, and K. Anna Vaccari, they focus on helping women get the education they need to be successful in the field, providing mentoring and networking opportunities, helping women advance in their careers, and placing women in thought leadership positions in the industry. They also have a Tandem program that matches women together based on areas of expertise and interest. You can find more information about this mentorship program here.
Women’s Society of Cyberjutsu (WSC)
Founded by Lisa Jiggetts and Mari Galloway, the Women’s Society of Cyberjutsu is a non-profit organization focused on empowering women to succeed in the cybersecurity industry. They provide training and resources to help women secure jobs in cybersecurity, events, a career center, networking opportunities, and cyber competitions. The Cyberjutsu Girls Academy offers a wide range of workshops for middle and high school-aged girls looking to explore the many areas in technology and cybersecurity. You can find more information about membership opportunities here.
Augustus Redefined is an organization founded by Octavia Howell in 2019 that aims to support, nurture, mentor, and encourage Black women in cybersecurity. They offer community events and networking, training, and mentorship opportunities. This group is building its foundation on executive presence, self-awareness, technical security, and peer mentoring. Follow their LinkedIn page to receive their latest updates like webinar announcement career development opportunities.
Founded by Tennisha Martin, BlackGirlsHack was created to share knowledge and resources to help black girls and women breakthrough barriers to careers in STEM, information security, and cybersecurity. This organization provides training, mentorship, and community engagement to encourage Black women and girls to be engaged in STEM fields and in executive suites. To help foster collaborative learning environments, all of BlackGirlsHack’s spaces and programming welcome people of all genders, nationalities, races, and orientation. To learn more about membership opportunities, click here.
Black Cybersecurity Association
BCA is an inclusive non-profit organization focused on building community, mentorship, and job opportunities for underrepresented people of color in the cybersecurity space. Their specific mission is to increase the level of visibility, mentorship, and representation of Black cybersecurity professionals. They offer coding and home lab workshops for kids, Security+ study groups for passing certification exams, ethical hacking bootcamps, and professional development, mentoring, and strategic networking sessions. To learn more about membership opportunities, click here.
Ultimately, organizations that create cybersecurity initiatives to support black professionals are good for helping to encourage diversity in cybersecurity. However, it’s up to individual companies to ensure that people from diverse backgrounds are not discriminated against during hiring for security roles. Furthermore, to some extent they should be given preference to ensure that there is a fair amount of diverse representation from all groups. For an additional list of cybersecurity initiatives supporting black professionals and other minority groups, check out CSOOnline’s list here.
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