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Just in time for International Women’s Day, the latest episode of Security Visionaries finds host Emily Wearmouth sitting down with guests Emily Heath and Shamla Naidoo, as they shine a light on the importance of diversity for better business outcomes whilst discussing the roadblocks faced by women and people of color in the cybersecurity sector. Listen in as they offer insightful reasons behind this decline and underline the necessity for true intent, focus, and discipline to revolutionize outdated norms, leading to a more inclusive cybersecurity industry. This episode underscores the urgent need for a shift in attitude and acknowledgement of diversity as an essential aspect of cybersecurity organizations.

I’ve said it many times, you have to have a genuine desire to shift archaic norms. It does not happen overnight and it doesn’t happen without focus, discipline and a genuine, authentic heart. To be able to want to change this industry for the better. And if you have good intentions and you have that authenticity about you, people will run toward you.

—Emily Heath, Senior Vice President and Chief Trust & Security Officer at Docusign
Emily Heath

 

Timestamps

*(00:01): Introduction and guest introductions*(11:27): Overcoming biases and stereotypes
*(01:24): Discussion on the decline of women in cybersecurity roles*(14:23): Measuring the impact of diversity in cybersecurity
*(03:27): Factors contributing to the decline and mental health challenges*(17:09): Bringing diversity initiatives to the board level
*(06:17): Challenging the notion of women in cybersecurity as non-essential*(21:58): Empowering chief security officers and increasing their representation
*(08:37): Importance of diversity and inclusion in cybersecurity*(27:08): Conclusions

 

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On this episode

Emily Heath
Senior Vice President and Chief Trust & Security Officer at Docusign

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Emily Heath

Emily Heath is a seasoned technology and cybersecurity executive with experience leading complex global F100 organizations through technology, security, and cultural transformations. Emily currently serves on the Board of Directors for a few different organizations.

Most recently Emily served as SVP & Chief Trust & Security Officer at DocuSign based in San Francisco, California, where she oversaw cyber security, physical security, and customer trust functions, she also chaired the company’s ESG Committee. Prior to DocuSign, Emily was the Chief Information Security Officer at United Airlines, where she oversaw the airline’s global information security program as well the IT regulatory, governance and risk management functions. Before her role at United Airlines, she was the CISO at Fortune 500 architecture, engineering and construction firm, AECOM. Prior to these roles, Emily served in various IT leadership positions in enterprise applications, ERP and supply chain, web development, M&A leadership and program management.

Shamla Naidoo
Head of Cloud Strategy and Innovation at Netskope

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Shamla Naidoo

Shamla Naidoo is a technology industry veteran with experience helping businesses across diverse sectors and cultures use technology more effectively. She has successfully embraced and led digital strategy in executive leadership roles such as Global CISO, CIO, VP, and Managing Partner, at companies like IBM, Anthem (Wellpoint), Marriott (Starwood), and Northern Trust.

Emily Wearmouth
Director of International Communications and Content at Netskope

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Emily Wearmouth

Emily Wearmouth is a technology communicator who helps engineers, specialists and tech organisations to communicate more effectively. At Netskope, Emily runs the company’s international communications and content programmes, working with teams across EMEA, LATAM, and APJ. She spends her days unearthing stories and telling them in a way that helps a wide range of audiences to better understand technology options and benefits.

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Emily Heath

Emily Heath is a seasoned technology and cybersecurity executive with experience leading complex global F100 organizations through technology, security, and cultural transformations. Emily currently serves on the Board of Directors for a few different organizations.

Most recently Emily served as SVP & Chief Trust & Security Officer at DocuSign based in San Francisco, California, where she oversaw cyber security, physical security, and customer trust functions, she also chaired the company’s ESG Committee. Prior to DocuSign, Emily was the Chief Information Security Officer at United Airlines, where she oversaw the airline’s global information security program as well the IT regulatory, governance and risk management functions. Before her role at United Airlines, she was the CISO at Fortune 500 architecture, engineering and construction firm, AECOM. Prior to these roles, Emily served in various IT leadership positions in enterprise applications, ERP and supply chain, web development, M&A leadership and program management.

Shamla Naidoo

Shamla Naidoo is a technology industry veteran with experience helping businesses across diverse sectors and cultures use technology more effectively. She has successfully embraced and led digital strategy in executive leadership roles such as Global CISO, CIO, VP, and Managing Partner, at companies like IBM, Anthem (Wellpoint), Marriott (Starwood), and Northern Trust.

Emily Wearmouth

Emily Wearmouth is a technology communicator who helps engineers, specialists and tech organisations to communicate more effectively. At Netskope, Emily runs the company’s international communications and content programmes, working with teams across EMEA, LATAM, and APJ. She spends her days unearthing stories and telling them in a way that helps a wide range of audiences to better understand technology options and benefits.

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Episode transcript

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Emily Wearmouth [00:00:01] Hello and welcome to another edition of the Security Visionaries Podcast, a place where we host experts discussing a wide range of topics that will be of interest to anyone in cyber data or related industries. I'm your host, Emily Wimmer. This week is International Women's Day, a day that I believe should be about activism rather than platitudes and spin. And so I've asked two women who have excelled through their career paths in technology to allow me to throw some pretty prickly and awkward questions and challenges their way. Let's get some introductions done. First of all, I'm really pleased that Emily Heath has joined us today. Two Emilys are always better than one, and this Emily has a fascinating cyber career. Starting off when she was a detective in the Fraud Squad with the UK police. She then went on to hold VP and CSO roles for the likes of United Airlines and DocuSign. Currently, Emily serves on the board of directors for a number of public and private organizations. Thank you for joining us, Emily.

Emily Heath [00:00:55] It's a pleasure to be here. Thank you for having me.

Emily Wearmouth [00:00:58] My guest has an equally impressive CV or résumé to talk American. Shamla Naidoo has served as a CISO for the likes of Starwood Resorts and IBM, and is also an adjunct professor of law at the University of Illinois. She serves as a board member or independent director for multiple public boards, and she's also head of cloud strategy and innovation at Netskope. And I'll be honest, I'm pretty intimidated right now. Welcome Shamla

Shamla Naidoo [00:01:21] Thank you for having me, Emily.

Emily Wearmouth [00:01:24] For a bit of context, recent government figures show that the percentage of women in cyber security roles in the UK dropped by almost a quarter over the last two years, from 22% to just 17%. And the UK is not alone in its struggles, really to make an impact, with the sector continuing to entice and retain men more successfully than women. But we also know from other research that diverse teams drive better business outcomes. There have been lots of long range research programs that show higher levels of gender diversity. On the likes of FTSE 350 boards positively correlate with financial performance. So I wanted to start by asking you both, what's your general initial reaction to such stark figures coming out of the UK government?

Emily Heath [00:02:08] Well, I'm happy to start. I'm actually shocked. I'm surprised that the numbers have gone down for a number of reasons. Firstly, I think both Shamla and I, we're out in the community a lot with fellow CISOs, and women are always underrepresented. There's no doubt. It's always a sea of men. But, I thought we were starting to see more women in cybersecurity, in particular in leadership roles. Now, perhaps what that indicates is the investment and, focus that we've had on bringing women into cyber, perhaps started a few years ago. And now those women are getting into more, high level leadership roles. But I'm surprised at the numbers because, I do see more women, but but albeit they're probably more in leadership roles than they are in some of the management layers and, and some of the other layers of security. So it worries me greatly because if we're not spending the time investing and making sure that women are represented at every level of an organization, then we're going to be in stark danger of not having more women in leadership roles in the future. So my initial reaction was like, wow, I'm actually shocked. I thought we were getting somewhere.

Emily Wearmouth [00:03:27] What about you, Shamla?

Shamla Naidoo [00:03:29] So, Emily, I will say that I am not surprised at all by those numbers. You know, I think Emily's right. Over the last couple of years, we've seen those numbers increase, and that was very good news. It was really good sign of the industry kind of changing and becoming a little bit more friendly toward women. And so we got some better numbers. However, remember we also got those better numbers because we started counting differently. So rather than looking for kind of pure cybersecurity skills and then adding that we started to become a little bit more generic. And so those numbers included things like technology leaders. And so, you know, while it's arguable whether they're in or they're out, I think those numbers were a little bit artificial simply because some of that increase was due to us counting differently. But the second thing that I think is more important is that over the last couple of years, we've seen a significant increase in mental health strain and stress, I think, on the whole industry. But for women in particular, you know, that, you know, we react more quickly and we react more seriously to those kinds of challenges and the job has become more stressful. The job has become almost impossible to sustain. And so I am not surprised at all that women are beginning to leave this field. And so those two things to me, given that those things were happening, does not surprise me at all that the numbers are getting lower, although very sad news.

Emily Heath [