Embrace Gender Diversity in Security and Risk Management Roles

For every 100 security and risk management (SRM) executives, only about a quarter of them are women. The good news is that as the benefits of diversity are more widely realized, that number will increase by nearly 15% by 2020.

While this makes for pretty sober reading, the good news is that the general workforce pipeline has a more balanced male-to-female ratio, meaning that over time, it’s likely that there will be more female leaders in the discipline.

The Gartner Gender Diversity in Security and Risk Management Survey explored how gender diversity impacts the ability of an organization to manage its security and risk management objectives.

Recruit Diverse Teams and Outperform Others

Gender-diverse and inclusive teams outperform gender-homogeneous, less-inclusive teams by an average of 50%. Recent Gartner research found that managers of inclusive technology teams were more likely to say their teams outperformed noninclusive teams in all seven measures studied, including implementing new ideas and making timely decisions.

Early exposure to security and risk management disciplines develops more qualified candidates and provides professional support for gender parity. Gartner recommends that companies target women while they’re still in school to sell them on a career in security and risk management.  

Grow the general workforce pipeline for security and risk management by partnering with primary, secondary and higher educational institutions to introduce young women to the security and risk management professions. Do not focus only on technical educational programs; approach liberal arts and communications academic programs to ensure that females understand the value of a security and risk management career choice.

Retain Diverse Talent

Women find security and risk management professions to be excellent career paths, according to the survey. However, concerted efforts must be taken to retain them; otherwise, women may leave their positions to find a transparent and supportive work environment elsewhere.

Respondents believe sponsoring and mentoring high-potential women will improve the recruitment and retention of women in security and risk management. Diversity task forces are extremely important, but mandatory diversity training, job tests and grievance systems are not perceived as beneficial for organizational diversity.

Implement gender-blind recruiting practices and training to mitigate gender discrimination, and use retention practices that promote women to top leadership and executive positions. Providing work-life balance practices such as flexible work hours is a competitive differentiator in the labor market that can improve the retention and recruitment of women.

People want to work where they know they will be accepted and respected for their unique background, skills and knowledge. It is a win-win situation for all parties. These efforts will contribute to the vast majority of organizations that will exceed their financial targets through 2022 by equipping frontline decision-making teams with a diverse and inclusive culture.

Roberta Witty, vice president analyst, Gartner contributed this article, which can also be found here. This article has been updated from the original, published on May 19, 2017, to reflect new events, conditions or research.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of HR&DigitalTrends.