Woke Hiring Won't Save Us: An Actionable Approach to Diversity Hiring and Retention

Conference:  BlackHat USA 2019



The presentation discusses the importance of diversity and inclusion in the tech industry, and provides solutions for retaining women in tech through empathy, understanding, and sponsorship.
  • Negative stereotypes and bias can lead to a lack of diversity and retention of women in the tech industry
  • Solutions include getting involved in local diversity initiatives, recognizing and addressing personal bias, and advocating for diversity within the organization
  • Sponsorship is a proven method for retaining women in tech, as it provides public and private advocacy for career advancement and visibility within the organization
The speaker provides data on the benefits of sponsorship, stating that sponsored women were more likely to report a satisfactory pace and promotions, and mothers who were sponsored were over 25% more likely to stay with their employer than mothers who were not sponsored.


"Okay, so there are fewer women in infosec than there are men. Let's just hire more qualified women, right? ...Right? "Diversity hiring is a bandaid on top of broader, systemic issues. Compared to our male counterparts, women in information security and engineering have abysmal rates for both matriculation in computer science education programs and retention in full-time STEM employment. Solely encouraging increased recruitment of traditionally underrepresented groups, in this case women, fails to address the underlying issues that result in a smaller pool of women to hire, and double the attrition for women on the job. Despite broad adoption of diversity hiring, it is a fraction of a solution for a fraction of the problem. This limited approach does little to level the playing field to gaining necessary qualifications, nor does it do enough to combat the fact that, after securing full-time work, the quit rate for women is still over twice that of men. So what can we do to ensure equity in our field? How do we go beyond diversity hiring to address inequity? What does "equity" mean, and why do we care in the first place? How can we as a community secure a diverse pool of hiring candidates, and create a sustainable culture that promotes the professional growth of women in infosec?Combining multiple university studies on recruitment and retention in computer science education, and an analysis of business practices, cultures, and post-hire retention data, this talk aims to serve as a call-to-action for our community, and provide realistic practices for all professionals to foster a more inclusive workforce. With a data-driven discussion on effective education and business practices, each attendee will leave with a clearer understanding of their role in promoting the growth of a diverse workforce and a workplace where women are more likely to stay and succeed.