The History of Pride Month
On June 28, 1969 in the tenuous hours that exist between midnight and dawn, New York City police officers carried out a routine raid at a Greenwich Village bar known as the Stonewall Inn. At this time, the New York State Liquor Authority penalized and shut down establishments that served alcohol to known LBGTQ+ individuals arguing that the mere gathering of “homosexuals” was disorderly. As it went with many of these raids, officers roughly hauled and beat patrons. Although these raids were routine in the 1960’s, this particular event sparked a riot and protest among patrons of the Stonewall Inn and residents of the Greenwich Village neighborhood lasting six days. In a rare feat, rioters overpowered police and forced onlookers to act. This event represents a pivotal moment in LGBTQ+ history in the context of a greater movement driven by activists and allies, a boiling over point that is now celebrated annually throughout the month of June, and is known to many as Pride Month.
Fast Forward to 2021, and there is a lot of progress that has been made including marriage equality and numerous LGBTQ+ people in political office. However, there is still a lot of work to be done. There has been a dramatic increase in anti-trans bills in recent months, and continued discrimination against queer people. In fact, according to the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), 2021 is slated to become the worst year for LGBTQ+ state legislative attacks.
LGBTQ+ Diversity in Infosecurity
As a queer person myself, I find Pride Month to be an empowering and celebratory time, and a painful reminder of what still needs to be accomplished to be seen as equal in the eyes of the law, and our culture. Oftentimes, I use this month as an opportunity to reflect on how to work towards a more inclusive and safe world for LGBTQ+ people. I, as well as many other people, have a deep belief that this change starts with doing work within your own community. For all of you reading this blog, the community we share and have the power to improve is the infosecurity industry.
Let’s start by taking a look at the current state of LGBTQ+ representation in the cybersecurity field. The answer to that question in itself is challenging. It’s well reported and researched that cybersecurity has a gender diversity problem. One can only imagine the abysmal percentage of LGBTQ+ people in infosecurity (imagination is the only option, as there aren’t any readily available studies or reports). With this in mind, I think it is fair to say there is a clearcut disparity of queer representation in security. An even greater issue is retaining diverse employees. According to the Kapor Center, “workplace culture drives turnover, significantly affecting the retention of underrepresented groups, and costing the industry more than $16 billion each year”. So not only do we need to improve recruiting practices, we have a responsibility to create a culture that is safe for all employees.
On the other hand, it is widely accepted that we have a major challenge to cybersecurity roles. There are over 3 million open cybersecurity positions (some good news, this figure is down for the first time since records began).
Here’s the hard truth. A diverse workplace doesn’t just happen. It takes serious investment in people, processes, and training. Here is what we do know:
Filling cybersecurity roles matters.
How Can You Invest In Diversity?
So what can we do to improve this figure? How can we close this gap? I’ve presented a list (that is far from exhaustive) below.
Collaborate With HR
Enlist Support from your People Ops/HR Leaders to:
- Take a look at your paternity/maternity leave policies (do you need to physically give birth to take advantage of these policies?)
- Ensure Domestic Partnerships are covered under you insurance policies
- Use inclusive language in HR trainings, All Hands Meetings, and in written documents
- Provide/cover alternative ways to create families like:
- Adoption services
- IVF treatments
- Resources around foster care
- Ensure insurance and other benefits are trans inclusive
- Include clear non-discrimination clauses in the company handbook
- Ask new employees for their pronouns and names (extra points if your employees, leaders, managers include these in their email signatures and LinkedIn profiles)
- Train your employees and leaders (i.e unconscious bias, gender education in sensitivity trainings)
- Provide gender neutral restroom access
- Recruit outside of your employees network circle. (Does your company provide referral bonuses? Do they incentivize employees to connect with and refer diverse candidates?)
- Provide access to mental health services
Lift Others Up
If you are an ally, use your privilege to find platforms for queer people. Are there upcoming events with CFPs? Are there industry podcasts/webinar programs? *Shameless Plug* If you ever want to nominate someone to make a guest appearance on our podcast, Breaking Badness, please feel free to DM me (see handle below).
Follow and support LGBTQ+ folks on Twitter. Here are a few folks I recommend below. Please don’t hesitate to share additional handles my way (@punsandrosses):
We stand on the shoulders of the generations that precede us. I have a deep respect and appreciation for the likes of Marsha P. Johnson and Beverly Palesa Ditsie. The change we fight for today may not impact our lives, but will be paid forward to the generations that follow in our footsteps. In this blog, I provided a list of actions that you can take, regardless of your sexual or gender orientation, to make the industry a safe place to work for everyone. I hope you’ll join me to rise against LGBTQ+ discrimination and spread love. In celebration of LGBTQ+ employees, DomainTools will be changing our logo for the month of June. I look forward to celebrating with my lovely wife, who puts up with my obsessive wordplay.