Trends Report

European Security Leader Career Paths

European Organizations Struggle With Diversity In CISO Roles

August 18th, 2021
With contributors:
Martin Gill , Melissa Bongarzone , Zaklina Ber , Peggy Dostie


Forrester analyzed the career backgrounds of 168 CISOs with public profiles and who are working for major organizations in Europe with listings in the highest stock market indexes in the UK (FTSE 100), France (CAC 40), Germany (DAX 30), Italy (FTSE MIB), Spain (IBEX 35), and the Netherlands (NL25). CISO tenure is 3.5 years, on average, only slightly lower than in the US. However, European security leaders fit a much more traditional mold than US-based security leaders in two important ways. First, European CISOs are overwhelmingly male; in our sample across the largest organizations in Europe, only 8% of CISOs are female. Second, the diversity of educational background is more homogenous, with very few CISOs coming from nontechnical liberal arts backgrounds compared to the US. This report profiles the European CISO’s career path and examines ways firms can encourage more diversity in their security leadership.

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