Deloitte initiative to encourage women in cybersecurity expands to Middle East

02 August 2018 4 min. read

Big Four professional services giant Deloitte has launched an initiative in the Middle East aimed at promoting greater gender diversity in the cyber-security sector.

Originally launched by Deloitte in the UK in 2015 in an effort to increase female representation in the cyber-security segment, the firm’s Women in Cyber initiative is now being extended to the whole of the EMEA – Europe, the Middle East and Africa. The project seeks to raise awareness of the current gender disparity and promote a career in the sector as a viable one for women by initiating a dialogue between sector professionals and stakeholders.

The need for such initiatives is clear, and the benefits manifold – not in the least with respect to the projected 1.8 million global short-fall in skilled cyber personnel by 2022. According to data from research and strategy consultancy Frost & Sullivan, women in 2016 made up just 11 percent of the global information security workforce, and just 5 percent in the Middle East. Women were even further unrepresented in managerial positions globally – including almost no presence in senior and executive leadership in the Middle East.

One of the issues of such a male-dominated sector, and one the Deloitte Women in Cyber initiative hopes to address, is that prospective new female employees may be put off or intimidated by a potentially discriminatory culture, dismissing a career in the sector or perhaps not even considering one in the first place – thus engendering a self-perpetuating stasis.

Lisa Hamilton, Deloitte UK cyber associate director and leader of the Deloitte EMEA Women in Cyber initiative, said, “Deloitte’s Women in Cyber initiative aims to bridge the gender gap among cyber security professionals. “We bring together our clients and colleagues across EMEA to find ways of creating awareness and collaborating on joint initiatives. We want to encourage more women to choose cyber security as a career.”Deloitte initiative to encourage women in cybersecurity expanded to Middle EastThe Deloitte initiative hopes to demonstrate the potentiality of such a career for women, in part by showcasing its current female cyber practice leaders as industry role models. “To start the dialogue, we interviewed prominent female cyber leaders in Switzerland to learn about their journeys, hear their views on their current roles and the opportunities the profession has to offer,” said Patricia Egger, leader of the Women in Cyber programme in Switzerland.

She adds: “Cyber is a multi-faceted field that can seem obscure to those on the outside. With this initiative, we hope both women and men will be able to get a better understanding of what it means to be a cyber-professional and why it’s a great career choice.” Egger herself, who has a background in mathematics, has provided an account of her own journey to cyber and what inspires her about her job in the information security profession.

“After my first year at Deloitte Cyber Risk Services, I can say that I have never felt bored. I have been able to work on interesting and complex client projects, spanning from identity and access management to privileged access management and cyber security risk assessments, which provided valuable learning experiences.”

In addition, she says, “Being part of a Women in Cyber team that contributes to changing the perception of the cyber security industry from the ‘hoody-wearing hacker in the dark room’ to a career with exciting opportunities that do not require a computer science background, is incredibly motivating. Supported by both my senior management and my peers, I have been given a platform to make an impact that matters; a privilege that I do not take for granted.”

Recently, Deloitte announced that it would invest £430 million into further developing its global cyber practice, and will establish a Digital Delivery Centre in Saudi Arabia with support from the Saudi Ministry of Communication and Information Technology. Meanwhile, fellow Big Four firm EY late last year established an advanced multi-million dollar regional cybersecurity hub in Oman.