On International Women’s Day, Forrester’s new report ‘Best Practices: Recruiting, Retraining and Advancing Women in Cybersecurity’ identifies top practical solutions for addressing the systemic cultural issues affecting women and holding back security teams from success.

According to Forrester, women represent just 24% of security professionals worldwide, and while the industry has made significant efforts to recruit women into the field, security culture in many organizations remains hostile toward women, making it not only difficult to hire more women, but to retain them as well.

Key findings include:

  • Firms need bias training and to focus on retaining women in leadership roles. Forrester analyzed the LinkedIn profiles of over 380 Fortune 500 and 150 EMEA-headquartered companies and discovered that of those with a formal head of information security, women held only 13% and 8% of those roles respectively.
  • Toxicity is rife in cybersecurity, and a toxic security team will display itself with fear of failure, lack of enthusiasm, and dysfunction internally. According to Forrester, a lack of gender diversity was the “dirty secret” of toxicity, with many only highlighting it privately, causing stigma, shame and many resignations.
  • Businesses need to tackle gender bias as they would any security vulnerability – head on. Currently, 87% of CISOs at Fortune 500 companies are men and only 13% are women. For the majority of CISOs who are men, there is an urgent need and enormous opportunity to become not just an ally but an outspoken champion for women in tech and cybersecurity.

From Principal Analyst Jinan Budge: “There is an urgent need and enormous opportunity to become not just an ally but an outspoken champion for women in tech and cybersecurity, especially when so many people tell women to solve workplace challenges by simply “leaning in.” While personal responsibility is important, there is only so far that your confidence can take in an industry ingrained with systemic sexism and bias. Engage with people who experience the adversity, and advocate for women in your team by creating a space where they, alongside male allies, can champion real change.”

You can find more on the topic in this blog.

Additional Forrester insights about the topic of inclusive leadership can be found in the following research reports:

  • It’s Time To Embrace More Inclusive Leadership Styles. It’s time to move beyond the “think manager, think male” mindset that penalizes women on their way up and atop the corporate ladder. This report discusses female sales leaders’ different leadership styles.
  • Take Action To Keep Your Diverse Talent. Women enter tech at a lower rate than men and leave at a higher rate, resulting in male-dominated teams. This report reveals how to attract women, technology firms need to start by capturing the value that women in their current organization and company provide.
  • Inclusive Leadership Enhances The Power Of Creativity. Diverse talent is an essential element in every step of the innovation process, yet many companies are still failing to foster equitable and inclusive working environments that enable diverse voices to be heard. This report discusses how D&I debt is holding firms back and how inclusive leadership unlocks untapped assets.

If you would like to see a copy of the report or speak to an analyst about this topic in more detail, please reach out to press@forrester.com.