In the recently concluded OffensiveCon, SheHacks_KE had the privilege of serving as a diversity partner, a role that brought immense value to our team. But what exactly does it mean to be a diversity partner at OffensiveCon? Well, it involved having two representatives attend the conference and training, fully sponsored by Blue Frost Security. This sponsorship truly exemplifies the company’s dedication to driving diversity within the industry and at the conference.
Meeting Christie Zeniou, the Head of People and Culture
During our time at OffensiveCon, we had the pleasure of sitting down with Christie Zeniou, the Head of People and Culture at Blue Frost Security. Right from our initial interaction, Christie’s warm and friendly nature put us at ease. She patiently addressed our many questions and concerns, extending her support in various aspects, from visa applications to travel arrangements.
Our discussions revolved around the significance of diversity in cybersecurity and the efforts made by Blue Frost to ensure inclusivity throughout the training and conference.
Exploring Blue Frost’s Approach: We delved into Blue Frost’s hiring process, which follows a three-step approach. The first step involves a phone screen conducted by Christie herself, ensuring that applicants understand the role and expectations. To mitigate biases, video interviews are intentionally avoided at this stage. Following the phone screen, candidates have the opportunity to meet other team members who evaluate their technical skills and compatibility with the team. Christie also handles the hiring logistics and ensures a smooth onboarding process for new hires. It’s truly a well-rounded approach that showcases their commitment to building a diverse team.
Attracting and Maintaining a Diverse Talent Pool
We discussed strategies for attracting a diverse pool of candidates, and it was eye-opening. Crafting job postings that stand out and appeal to a wide range of individuals is key. Stepping away from generic terms and clearly communicating expectations helps create an inclusive atmosphere. Actively reaching out to specific groups, such as women who may be hesitant to apply unless they meet all the requirements, is crucial. Collaborating with communities and seeking candidate referrals can also play a significant role in expanding the diversity of applicants.
Pay equity remains a challenge in many industries, including cybersecurity. It is worth mentioning that some countries have strict labor laws to ensure equal pay for equal work. We were not surprised to learn that Blue Frost takes pay equity seriously and ensures equitable compensation for their employees, given their track record in driving diversity, inclusion and equity. However, it’s important to acknowledge that pay disparities still persist across gender and race. Encouragingly, efforts are being made to close these gaps and prioritize fair compensation to retain a diverse workforce.
Defying Stereotypes at Blue Frost
Contrary to the stereotypical portrayal of hackers as introverted and socially awkward, the team at Blue Frost breaks the mold. While they spend a significant amount of time doing independent and remote work, they are far from being introverted. They possess excellent communication skills, a warm demeanor, and a great sense of humor. These individuals actively foster connections and genuinely enjoy engaging with others, defying the typical hacker stereotype.
Diversity and Inclusion Efforts at OffensiveCon
Christie shared with us the steps taken to ensure diversity at the conference. Blue Frost’s scholarship program allowed OffensiveCon to extend opportunities beyond Europe and support individuals from underrepresented backgrounds who might face financial constraints in attending. Collaborations with organizations focused on promoting diversity in cybersecurity were also integral in encouraging participation. Additionally, Blue Frost made a conscious effort to have a diverse line-up of speakers, including women, underrepresented minorities, and individuals from different regions.
Blue Frost’s commitment to inclusivity extended to every aspect of conference planning. They paid attention to details such as accessibility for people with disabilities, providing gender-neutral restrooms, and considering dietary restrictions when planning meals. These thoughtful measures aimed to ensure that everyone, regardless of race, ethnicity, or professional experience, felt welcome and included.
To create a conducive environment for attendees, Blue Frost established a strict code of conduct. It was made clear that harassment, discrimination, and inappropriate behaviour is not tolerated. Clear reporting mechanisms were put in place to address any violations promptly. This safe space fostered networking opportunities and mentorship programs, facilitating meaningful connections and professional growth.
Blue Frost’s dedication to diversity and inclusion is an ongoing journey. They actively seek feedback from attendees and participants to evaluate their efforts and further enhance future conferences. This commitment to continuous improvement reflects their determination to create increasingly diverse and inclusive events.
A Bright Future for Diversity and Inclusion
As members of underrepresented communities in the cybersecurity industry, our experience at OffensiveCon was truly wonderful. Thanks to Blue Frost Security, we had the chance to interact and network with industry professionals in a safe, welcoming, and inclusive space. Events like OffensiveCon give us hope for a future where diversity and inclusion are not just buzzwords but integral aspects of the cybersecurity field. We eagerly look forward to witnessing the positive impact of these initiatives unfold.