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NCSC launches study on cyber security diversity

The UK’s National Cyber Security Centre wants to improve the diversity of the cyber security sector

The National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) has teamed up with KPMG to conduct a mass survey of the UK’s cyber security workforce as it launches a drive to improve the diversity of the sector.

Having already pledged to ensure the security sector – which employs more than 40,000 in the UK – fully represents diversity and inclusion, the NCSC plans to conduct the exercise on an annual basis to build a comprehensive picture of the current workforce.

The NCSC and KPMG said they would use the data gleaned from the survey to highlight and target any particular areas where improvements can be made, in the process encouraging a wider range of individuals – including women, neurodiverse people, disabled people, ethnic minorities and LGBTQ+ people – to choose security as a fulfilling career path.

“In order for the industry to attract the best talent from across all communities in the UK, we must first understand the current workforce and then develop strategies that improve the opportunities on offer to all,” said NCSC deputy director for defence and national security, Jacqui Chard.

“I strongly urge organisations and their staff to take part in this short survey and help us build a robust foundation to further enhance our commitment to making the UK cyber security industry the model standard for diversity and inclusion.”

Dione Le Tissier, defence director at KPMG’s People and Change practice, added: “In an age where digital skills are more valued than ever, talent of all backgrounds and perspectives will be vital to continued innovation in sectors key to the safe and successful future of the UK.

“The survey is the first step on this journey and represents business and government, working jointly to listen and learn,” she said. “The responses to the survey will be invaluable in working towards a more inclusive workforce across the tech and defence sectors.”

The survey will be open until March 2020. It is fully anonymous and open to anybody working in the UK’s cyber security industry. It can be accessed at this location and should take around 10 minutes to fill out. The NCSC said that future iterations of the study will explore further demographics to build a more comprehensive picture over time.

The organisation, which is part of GCHQ, will also use the data collected to measure its performance and inform the development of a series of planned initiatives to help create a more inclusive environment.

The NCSC has previously highlighted the need for greater diversity in the cyber security sector on multiple occasions, drawing on a substantial body of research that suggests diverse teams act more effectively and solve challenges more creatively.

Some of the initiatives it has already run include schemes to provide mentorship and training to women returning to the workforce after a career break, and its popular CyberFirst Girls competition series (now in its fourth year), which challenges girls aged between 12 and 13 to a series of online puzzles relating to aspects of cyber security such as logic, cryptography, network security and online safety.

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