‘You really need people from all walks of life’

In line with the Morrison government’s recent announcement of $60 million in grant funding to support cyber security projects that focus on increasing diversity in the sector, the connection between diversity of representation and secure online environments cannot be ignored.

The Cyber Security Skills Partnership Innovation Fund will particularly preference projects that seek to boost the participation of women, indigenous Australians, people based in regional and remote areas, and neurodiverse people.

Measuring this diversity accurately and broadly is an important first step to improving Australia’s performance around inclusion and advancement.

ANZ Bank chief security officer Lynwen Connick and Verizon general counsel MJ Salier

According to ANZ Bank chief information security officer Lynwen Connick, the borderless nature of online commerce and social interaction means it has never been more important to have diversity of representation inside organisations big and small.

“You need people with the right skills, you need a diversity of people who bring different views and ideas into the picture,” Ms Connick said on this week’s Counterpoint Conversations podcast.

“You really need to be able to get people from all walks of life, understanding security, and people studying security. And you need gender diversity, you need diversity of skills, you need diversity across different cultures, because we’re all connected so intimately in cyberspace.”

Research shows diversity delivers benefits including better financial performance, increased creativity and innovation, greater employee satisfaction, lower absenteeism and stronger talent retention. But there remains little data on the true state of diversity in the Australian tech industry.

Ms Connick said there are two levels to the diversity challenge. On the one hand, it is important to have diversity of background and skills around policy and cybersecurity, but it is also really important to increase diversity on the technical expertise side of the equation.

“There is a great mystique around cyber, that it must be really complicated and it’s really difficult,” she said. “And a lot of people…