Big Hair, dramatic makeup, false eyelashes, red lipstick, high-knee boots, all together would not be the corporate attire outlined in an HR policies and procedures manual. But for decades it was standard for “Booth Babes” to be hired for tradeshows to dress provocatively as an immediate attention ploy towards the promotion of their products rather than to provide immense knowledge about the product itself. The irony is that “Booth Babes” are predominantly female; however, the cybertech industry they represent excludes women in its workforce, with less than 11% as reported by the 2017 Global Information Security Workforce Study.
Minorities fair no better filling minimal executive positions and represent slightly less than 12% of the total cyber workforce. “With a potential shortfall of qualified cybersecurity professionals estimated at 1.5 million by 2019, the industry simply can’t afford to ignore such a large pool of potential talent,” noted Amjed Saffarini, CEO of CyberVista, a cybersecurity workforce development firm. Nor can past recruitment and staffing practices be held as the norm when both women and minorities are seeking to be a part of the conversation of IT.
Solutions to Staffing Events and Diverse Hiring
The realization that the only way to get the best people is to invest in obtaining a diverse workforce is gradually occurring more today as the standard, but can be propelled by:
- Examining hiring practices that make assumptions and perpetuate unintentional biases
- Searching for candidates through creative nontraditional platforms
- Developing mentorship programs for incoming minorities
- Staffing events with product experts that have a passion for the product
Earlier this year, one of the largest cyber conferences in the world, RSA Conference, added STEAM students to serve as promotional presenters for vendors. STEAM students are of all genders and backgrounds that have a great interest in cyber and are trained to engage with customers at a booth. The vendors that use STEAM students receive a highly-motivated, skilled, and well-versed student studying in the field of tech that not only knows their product but is an excellent candidate to fill future positions with the company. Deidre Diamond, founder of Brainbabe, the organization that started STEAM noted, “Educating to solve the problem of desexualizing trade shows and diversifying the workplace is not only needed but very gratifying to see the tremendous amount of support towards improving our industry.”
Brainbabe Powering Diversity
As a 501c3 organization, Brainbabe is dedicated to bringing awareness to the industry that women and minorities are, and can be, great leaders and great advisers. Though Brainbabe is proud of its efforts with STEAM students, the organization is striving for so much more. Brainbabe in partnership with CyberSN, the largest cybersecurity staffing firm in the United States, has produced a list of the 35 categories of cybersecurity careers and will be partnering with cyber companies worldwide to raise awareness and support training efforts.
The world is rapidly changing. Technology is rapidly changing. Yet in the world of IT and Cybersecurity, the workplace that powers change is disconnected from a diverse, enriched blend of great minds from all cultures, creeds, and preferences. Brainbabe is seeking to change this inequality by educating CEOs and other top decision makers to hire the best and brightest not only for behind the scenes IT positions but for trade shows, corporate, and community events. If you would like to learn more on how your company can effectively improve diversity in the industry, please go to Brainbabe.org and signup to become an Ambassador today.