Wolf Hill Group Hosts DEI in Cybersecurity Webinar

Wolf Hill Group Hosts DEI in Cybersecurity Webinar

June 22, 2022 – Wolf Hill Group today hosted a compelling interactive discussion on the topic of “DEI in Cybersecurity,” to focus attention on the state of diversity, equity, and inclusion in the industry, and on efforts to address the cybersecurity talent gap.

The webinar was moderated by Robyn Ewers, Practice Leader at Wolf Hill Group, and featured these accomplished panelists:

  • Hayley Carlotto, Lead Data Scientist, CEO Action for Racial Equity Fellow, MassMutual
  • Anthony Hannon, Head of Cyber Advisory Services, MassMutual; Board Member, Minorities in Cybersecurity
  • Candace Nortey, Managing Director, Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion, Slone Partners

The conversation included discussion on topics relating to corporate social responsibility, ethical identity, and bridging the digital divide. Panelists also took questions from members of the audience.

See a complete transcript of the discussion below.

Robyn Ewers:
It’s a great pleasure to host this event today because I'm passionate about this subject, and so are all of my participants. So, welcome for our terrific participants from MassMutual and Slone Partners. For those of you who don't know, Slone Partners is Wolf Hill Group's parent company in executive search. And those of you who are joining us today from across a com, ooh, country, welcome to the conversation. It's an important discussion because we all know that the cybersecurity industry just like many others is in the middle of a severe talent crunch. And we're in need of smart, ambitious people, people of all ages, sexes, black, white, and all other races, and ethnicities who can fill critical roles and do amazing work. It's also taking place on the heels of Juneteenth, during the first year in which this freedom date is commemorated as a national holiday.

Robyn Ewers:
And I think that this serves as a reminder of the progress we've made. And as our panelists said, in a separate conversation, all the work that's left to be done. Our discussion today is going to be open and honest, and I encourage all of you in the audience to engage with us, and post questions in the chat. Or later on, I'll open up for a Q&A session. And our objective is to learn more about the state of diversity, equity, and inclusion, and cybersecurity and technology all around and to brainstorm ways to enhance it all the way to the board level. So we'll discuss issues surrounding corporate responsibility, ethical identity, closing the digital divide and the exciting work being done at MassMutual and at Slone Partners and elsewhere to create new pipelines for diverse talent in cybersecurity. So, I'll start by introducing myself.

Robyn Ewers:
I'm Robyn Ewers, and I am serving as moderator today. I am Practice Leader of Wolf Hill Group, which is a cybersecurity leadership search firm. And I have three amazing panelists with me today. So, let me first introduce Hayley Carlotto. Hayley is the lead data scientist and CEO for Action Racial Equity fellow at MassMutual. She joined the company in 2015 where she focused on innovating life insurance, and underwriting through predictive modeling. Welcome, Hayley. We also have the fantastic Anthony Hannon. Anthony is also a CEO Action for Racial Equity fellow, or I believe you just wrapped up that position, and have returned to MassMutual as the newly named Head of Cyber Advisory Services. Congratulations, Anthony. Anthony's also a board member of Minorities in Cybersecurity. He joined MassMutual after two years of working in security ops at Raytheon and three years as an adjunct professor. And finally, we are very happy to have our very own Candace Nortey with us. Candace is Managing Director for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at Slone Partners, Wolf Hill Group's parent company, where she also serves on our executive leadership team.

Robyn Ewers:
Candace, it's great to have you here. Candace came to Slone Partners with over 15 years of teaching, and education administration leadership. So she's a great resource to everybody on our team and all of our client partners. So, thank you all for joining us today and let's get started. Let's first start because I gave everybody's introductions. Let's talk about the exciting work that you're doing as CEO Action for Racial Equity fellows, and the work that MassMutual is doing to contribute to the program. So Hayley, I'll start with you. What is CEO Action for Racial Equity in a nutshell?

Hayley Carlotto:
Yeah. First of all, thank you so much for having me. I'm so happy to be part of this conversation today. But yeah, so to level set, CEO Action for Racial Equity is a large business-led fellowship fighting to end societal racism by advancing racial equity through corporate initiatives, and through public policy at the federal state and local levels. This model of the fellowship is uniting companies from across industries, and from across all regions of the country. In the fellowship, I specifically work on one of our policy teams, which is focused on decriminalizing poverty, and that means addressing areas of the justice system that unfortunately cause many lower income people to have more interaction with the justice system, simply due to a lack of wealth. As a quick example when people can't pay their parking tickets, many times have their driver's licenses suspended without their knowing, and end up with an arrest warrant and in jail, if they get pulled over.

Hayley Carlotto:
So, a little bit about that and mine and Anthony's company MassMutual is contributing to the fellowship in a couple of different ways by sponsoring six employees, including ourselves for full-time participation in the fellowship, also by implementing internal initiatives that will advance racial equity, and aligning with some of the fellowship's policy priorities. And I know we'll get into some of that a little bit later.

Robyn Ewers:
Hayley, thank you. You did a fantastic job of summarizing a really well rounded, and intricate program of fellows. So thank you for that. And I know our audience it as well. Anthony and Hayley, I'm going to ask you both this question. I'll lead with Anthony, since we haven't heard from him. What inspired you to take this pause from your daily roles as leaders in a well-established organization to participate in this program? Anthony?

Anthony Hannon:
Yeah. Yeah. First just want to echo Hayley, also, thank you for having us here. Really excited to talk about the topic. So, what inspired me was representation really matters to me and having the opportunity to give back while being able to maintain the job at MassMutual, salary, all that stuff. And being able to focus on this full time was an opportunity I really couldn't pass up. It was kind of a no brainer as soon as it was announced internally through our employee website and communications were sent out, I think I had my application in a few short hours later. I have kids, they're four and two and any one percent, two percent that I can give back and make the world a better place for them, as corny as that might sound to some people, I wanted to take that opportunity and to kind of get off the sidelines a bit and contribute any skills, knowledge experience I had to the work efforts there.

Robyn Ewers:
Thanks, Anthony. And you have an impressive background as we've talked about in the past. So, one to two percent is substantial and not corny at all. So I appreciate that answer. And what about you, Hayley? How'd you take the leap to take a step away from every day corporate life, where you were really on a upward trajectory to pause?

Hayley Carlotto:
Yeah, you Anthony, you took the words right out of my mouth. It was a no brainer for me too, actually. I learned of this state of systemic racism that still exists in so many aspects of society, not until I was in college. And I was studying math and computer science at the time. And then I started my career in tech and when this opportunity came up, I was five years in, and I was craving away to finally marry my skills and my passions. And when the opportunity to apply for the fellowship came up, like similar to Anthony, it was in a couple hours. I just knew, no doubt it's what I wanted to do. And this was also a few months after George Floyd was killed.

Hayley Carlotto:
And so, I was even more impassioned to do something, anything at that time, like so many others felt. And yeah, I just think racial equity should be a key priority for our generation. I think it's existential to our country. We just commemorated Juneteenth and slavery was part of the US history and there's still so much work to do to rid the country of the harm that it caused generation over generation, and leading to the huge disparities that we see today in health outcomes, and the racial wealth gap, and so many other areas.

Robyn Ewers:
Thank you, Hayley. That is very meaningful and I appreciate it. And, and I'm going to move on to Candace, who's not a fellow in the program, but is contributing her life's work to education and being a thought leader in diversity, equity, and inclusion. And Candace, can you speak to what made you get into this role after being such a prominent figure in your community's education program and what got you into it? And then also, how do you think education plays a role in our everyday lives to become a better society?

Candace Nortey:
Thank you, Robyn, and thank you for the opportunity to be on this panel with the other amazing panelists. So many thoughts. So, yes, I spent most of my career as an educator, and I think the passion that I have there to educate, to provide opportunity, to create a space where everyone has access, everyone has opportunity, it starts in K through 12. And I think the thing about the pandemic, and kind of what both Hayley and Anthony were talking about is there was this sort of spotlight on all of the inequities sort of came to the forefront, health equity, the digital divide. So, many disparities, obviously, police brutality with the murder of George Floyd.

Candace Nortey:
So, I left my career in education because my driving force has always been about impact. And if I can make an impact in an area that I care about, and I mentioned before diversity equity, and inclusion access. Like Anthony, I have a two year old and I really want a different world for her. And it drives every action that I give every day. So, I really think it's important that, as Hayley mentioned, companies make this a priority. I'm proud to work for a company that's made it a priority.

Robyn Ewers:
Thank you, Candace. And the common thing that I hear from everybody is either kids, or the future, and wanting to make a better future for our children to be part of, and to contribute to in a better society. And I feel the same way with two very young white, male children. I want them to be the best possible versions of themselves, and the best contributors to an equal society. And that's why I actually became passionate about this subject is I was very scared to raise white male children in a society that gives too much to that one sector. It needs to be equal, and diverse, and respectful of everyone, and everything.

Robyn Ewers:
So I love all three of your answers, but I do think it all circles back to being a better future, being a better for society. So, Anthony, I briefly touched on your career experience earlier and I really just skim the surface because you and I have had deeper conversations about your career, but you are now a major leader in cybersecurity in a 11,000 plus person organization. Tell us more about what inspired you along the way and the challenges you've encountered as a black man in cybersecurity.

Anthony Hannon:
Yeah, so I wasn't originally planning to get to cybersecurity even when I was in college and definitely not when I was growing up. My dad is a programmer, he does a lot of stuff with databases, so growing up half of our garage was server racks, and that's kind of what I was used to. And you always hear those fans running, but I never saw tech or cybersecurity, even as a career path. I wanted to get into law enforcement. That was what I studied in college. Got my master's in that, was taking police exams back home in California, as I was finishing school in Rhode Island. And part of my graduate work was an internship with Raytheon. And I was very blessed in that both of my managers, he was the intelligence manager, security intelligence manager, and then one of the senior security intelligence analysts were both my managers in the internship, and they both had former law enforcement experience.

Anthony Hannon:
One was a correctional officer. The other one was a Rhode Island state trooper. So they had lived that life and now had their successful careers in cybersecurity. And so beyond them being my manager, they were also, and still are to this day, two of my mentors. So I'm telling them my plan about getting to law enforcement by that time about halfway through the internship I was doing well in cybersecurity. And I remember talking Ken Bell, who's also a black man. And he told me, "You should really try cybersecurity out. You're still young. If you feel that calling back to law enforcement, or if it's not working out for whatever reason, you could still have a successful career in law enforcement." So, that's what I did got into cybersecurity and did well in the internship was able to get a job with Raytheon in their stock. Challenges, it's tough, right?

Anthony Hannon:
It's always in the back of your head. I like to refer it to as like your spidey sense, right? As like it's not overt. It's kind of like the microaggressions, things like that, but it's always there, right? And you always like have that tingling, you think that something else is going on. And you always bring a mass with you to work, right. And it's not just cybersecurity, it's any industry, right? Where going back to George Floyd and his killing, where that following week, you still have meetings, right? You still have a team that depend on you. You have deadlines to meet. And at the same time, you're bringing up a piece of yourself outside of work to work, right? Because it's unavoidable, and you have to navigate those waters, right? Code switching, if you will. And I remember our intelligence team that I managed at one point, we were supposed to give a briefing to our leadership team.

Anthony Hannon:
And our Chief of Staff just sends me a ping in the morning and says, "Hey, can you ask your team to hang back for 30 minutes? Our CISO at the time wants to talk about something." And that was all she said. And that was all she had to say, because then the spidey tingling starts going off. And like, "We're going to talk about George Floyd", which is great, right? He's being an ally, creating that space. And then the next thing was like, I'm going to have to talk, and I'm going to have to say something because at the time I was the only black person on the leadership team. And so over the next course of the next few hours, I'm going back and forth about how much do I share? Do I talk at all? Do I come up with some type of excuse? And ultimately I landed on, here's an education opportunity for my white peers, for them to understand a little bit of what I'm feeling as a black man with a situation happening thousands of miles away in Minnesota, and how it affects us here in Massachusetts.

Anthony Hannon:
So, as tough as that conversation was, I think it was a beneficial conversation and got a lot of messages afterwards for my white peers. But that's part of it, right? Like when we talk about the daily challenges, it's always something and there's different communities too, that are always faced with things as well, right? It's not exclusive to black and African Americans. And so being able to create that space for people and demonstrating an allyship has gone a long way for me. I know it goes a long way for other people. So that's a little bit about like what I've experienced in my career and kind of how I got to the mindset I have today in cybersecurity.

Robyn Ewers:
Thanks, Anthony. And you mentioned mentors and allies, and I think we all have a heavy level set to get up to the amount of mentors, and allies out there, but hopefully we're making a start here with our conversation today, or making a small dent. Hayley, we didn't plan for this question, but how did you get into such advanced technology as a young woman? Did you have support, or mentorship? What got you into this incredibly unpredictable, predictive space? AI? I'd love to hear your story.

Hayley Carlotto:
Well, my story, yeah, similar... Anthony and I, we have a lot of similarities that I didn't know about. My father's career influenced me a little bit. He's also a computer guy. He builds algorithms. I ended up in data science, doing algorithms. And, but similarly never, I always thought that he was nerdy and not cool. And just like, why would I want to go into that? But then in high school, math was my best subject, and I didn't know what I wanted to do. So just the practical person that I am when I went to college, I just said, "All right, I'll study math. I think that'll open up doors for me. And then I found that computer science was a great way to apply math, and apply it to so many interesting problems in so many interesting areas.

Hayley Carlotto:
And then data science came along, and it just developed. And I was certainly a minority as a woman at my university in that field and yeah, having mentors, and having those first few people that believed in me that thought that I belonged there and just gave me a voice and said, "Hey, you can do this research project with me, or you can do this." It made the world of difference and just gave me the confidence to keep going in that direction. Yeah.

Robyn Ewers:
Thanks, Hayley. Thanks for going with my unplanned question, but I realize you never talked about your pathway towards technology, and artificial intelligence, and predictive modeling. So, Candace, I'm lucky to be the Practice Leader of Wolf Hill Group. And I get to know Slone Partners and therefore Wolf Hill Group's story of diversity, equity, and inclusion. And Anthony spoke about George Floyd. And you also spoke about George Floyd coming to Slone Partners, Candace. Talk to me a little bit about how Slone Partners evolution into DE&I has been and how other organizations can model what's been done.

Candace Nortey:
Great question. Thank you, Robyn. Just such a proud story to share. Like many organizations, Slone Partners was horrified about the murder of George Floyd, and they wanted to at the leadership level think about like, what impact could they make in their corner of the world? And I like to think about if everybody would work on their corner of the world, we'd cover a lot of corners out there. And so they started having conversations at the leadership level, because as an executive search firm, they're building leadership through companies and leaders make a lot of really critical decisions that impact how people show up to work, right? They impact culture. Who feels included? Who doesn't? Who feels safe? Who has opportunity to advance and get promotion. So, when we started thinking about the evolution of our impact in this space, they thought about, well, what if we came alongside our clients and provided support through services, right?

Candace Nortey:
Helped them with strategic planning, education, which is so critical. Coaching. It's hard. How do you lead in this space if you've never led in this space before? So, that was our original thought. And almost two years in, I am proud of all of our client partners that are showing up every day. They are working hard, rolling up their sleeves, sometimes making mistakes, and having to start over being reflective. So I think that's one thing that Slone Partners did, right? We created this DEI consulting, but we did more, right? We didn't just put out a statement. We didn't just put a quote on our website, and we didn't just hire Candace, a black woman, to lead these efforts. It's much deeper and much more than that. And so briefly, because I know we have lots to cover. I'll share that we took a hard look at our own company in terms of what does our demographics look like and how can we be more intentional and have a really great diversity recruiting strategy to impact our company internally?

Candace Nortey:
And we did that and we can proudly say that we have promoted a person of color, a black woman to this C-suite as our Chief Talent Officer. We also created some leadership structures at the VP level where there are now two people of color leading and throughout the organization, we're looking, as Anthony said, it's more than black. It's more than race. We're looking at gender, we're looking at sexual orientation, we're looking at disability, but all of that starts with culture. And so I just do want to shout out Slone Partners for having a fantastic culture, a place where people can show up and feel safe. And it helps with your onboarding, your retention, your recruiting, because people want to work at Slone Partners. I'll end by saying that we also created an envisioned mentorship program, envision pairs, life sciences and healthcare, and hopefully one day cybersecurity students with the next generation of leaders. Because as you mentioned, Hayley, that pathway, someone believing in you showing you confidence, like what can you do with a math degree?

Candace Nortey:
There aren't that many people of color, dare I say, maybe even women who can go to college, and say, they're going to study math and know that there's a pathway for them. So, I know that's a lot because Slone Partners is definitely leading the way in this space. And then you ask me what can other companies do to model. Number one, you can take a look at what you're currently doing, and just start. So, many people are worried about how to get it right, what to do, just start somewhere and keep going. It's like that exercise diet program you're on. Like if you keep doing little things every day across time, you start to see it results. But life happens, you get off track. And so my encouragement to everyone today is just don't ever stop. Don't ever give up. And then I know later in the program, you're going to ask more about some specific things companies can do, but I'll pause there.

Robyn Ewers:
I am. Thank you. And I'm noticing the theme of safe spaces for voices to be heard, and to feel safe at work. And I guess the four of us are all very lucky to work in organizations where it's well known. So, but there's a lot more work to be done out there. And this next part is always shocking to me. And I've been looking at these numbers for months, but cybersecurity is known as a predominantly white, male industry. It's not a secret. It's something that's being discussed by the industry on a daily basis. And according to a 2022 report from the Aspen Institute, four percent of cybersecurity workers self-identify as Hispanic, nine percent as black, and 24 percent as women, which is up from 11 percent in 2016. And the percentages become even smaller when we start referencing leadership, and even the investors in the cybersecurity space.

Robyn Ewers:
So I was at the RSA Conference two weeks ago and there were substantial efforts to support DE&I, like the quality lounge where there was a rotation of incredibly impressive women, and leaders in the cybersecurity and investment space, speaking about their experiences, and how they got to where they were to inspire other minorities, and women. There were also a notable amount of female keynote speakers, such as Caroline Wong from Cobalt. Nicole Dove from Riot Games, and Jane Horvath from Apple. And yet what I noticed, and I spoke to the three of you about this last week, women and minority leaders seem to still meet each other, and hold onto each other in these situations like life rafts in turbulent waters. So, this question is going to go to all three of you. I'll start with you, Anthony, where do you see the greatest opportunities to make an impact in DE&I in tech, and cybersecurity? And what are practical measures and organization can implement?

Anthony Hannon:
Yeah, absolutely. I think we all touched on it earlier, but creating the space, right? Allyship is where it's so key and plays such an important role because like you said, at RSA with the example there, like you see groups of women collecting together. When I see another black guy, like I make sure to go introduce myself, and because they're shared lived experiences that we can relate to and all people do that, right? And so allyship from white individuals, from different affinity groups, helping each other out is how we can make a big lasting change here. As far as like practical actions that we can take in cybersecurity. One easy one is looking at the job requisitions that we write, right? And oftentimes, and I know I'm guilty of it, and I know other leaders are guilty of it too, is we copy each other because it's easy, and you find a good model for a cybersecurity analyst, and you tweak some things to make it fit your company, but then that's what gets posted, right?

Anthony Hannon:
And so it kind of permeates throughout the industry. But when we do that, and we're looking at things like you need to have six years of experience with three different SIM tools, and DOP, and intelligence, and a bachelor's degree, and so on, and so... And you have to be have a security clearance, you're cutting out a huge segment of the population, just with those things, right? Before you even see their resume. And so let's look at the jobs that we're actually hiring for the skills that are actually pertinent to the success of the organization, and then make sure that, that information makes it to the job or acquisition, not the extra stuff and all the fluff, because you look at like black and African Americans, they're less likely to have internet broadband access or a laptop. So now they're not having that opportunity, even if there's free resources out there to train, and educate themselves in cybersecurity topics, get some hands on experience with SIM tools, right?

Anthony Hannon:
Until they maybe take a job with the help desk, or some other entry level IT job, and then kind of work their way up 10, 20 years later to break their way into cybersecurity. So, that's a one example of things that we can do in cybersecurity. The other thing we can do is start early with our K through 12 education around cybersecurity. So that way more and more people from diverse backgrounds see themselves as having a viable, successful career in cybersecurity, right? So, partnering with local schools, partnering with nonprofit organizations that offer training programs, and educational programs at those appropriate age levels, and so now you start planting those seeds, like Hayley said, around seeing yourself... Being able to use math, right? And have a successful career there. That's what we can do with cybersecurity there. We just have to be more intentional about the actions that we take. And again, rely on the allies that we have because they have the power right now, right? And so we need the help. It can't all come from women. Can't all come from black people, Asian Americans, whatever it is.

Candace Nortey:
Anthony, I want to just piggyback really quickly off of what you said about the job descriptions. The other thing is that a lot of data out there that women, and people of color don't apply to jobs unless they meet 100 percent of the criteria. So, what you write is critical because they're not even going to apply. Sixty percent of men will apply whether they're qualified or not. So right there, we're already not having a diverse candidate slate right off the bat.

Robyn Ewers:
That is so true. That's so true, Candace, and we coach our client partners through that every single day here at Slone Partners and Wolf Hill Group. What about you, Hayley? What are your thoughts on this question, and what are the practical measures an organization can implement?

Hayley Carlotto:
Yeah. Yeah. Just have to say, first of all, so true Candace and I'm training myself to not be one of those women, because it is my default, and I'm like, "Oh I don't, I don't have that one little thing. I'm not... I can't apply." And it's like, oh my gosh, no. We have to talk ourselves out of that. But no, so many great practical measures ha have been hit already. I would underline inclusion and culture again. I just think it's so important that making sure that with diversity measures organizations are really focused on building inclusive corporate cultures as well. And the challenge that we've already mentioned that people just tend to gravitate towards similar people naturally, and befriend people that are similar to them. And I think that's a challenge, especially, in sectors where we see such little diversity and I think there's opportunities to get creative there.

Hayley Carlotto:
I was listening to a podcast the other day and in France, for example, it's illegal to eat lunch at your desk and just imagine how much more expensive…Yeah, I know me either! And imagine how much more inclusive an environment would feel if you went out, and ate with your whole team on a regular basis, or had coffee hours with your team that weren't optional, right? Because we always have an excuse to get out of these like optional social hours, but if they're expected of you to wind down, and socialize, and during that time, you just naturally learn about each other's families, and each other's cultures. I think it's even harder now with so much remote work, post pandemic, but I just think we have to think about how to create these working environments that foster the deeper inclusion and belonging and relationship building with the people that we work with.

Robyn Ewers:
Thanks, Hayley. Beautiful answers. And I'm actually going to pause on our questions to answer a question from the audience from Erica Lichen. Erica asked us to speak about how you as panelists, you, as leaders in your organizations brought along reluctant stakeholders in leadership to gain buy in to DEI commitments, and how to speak about them outwardly in your organizations.

Anthony Hannon:
Yeah. I'm happy to take this one. I had the opportunity to answer this question in a different presentation with (ISC)2, also cybersecurity certification. So the biggest thing is to give people education and allow them the grace and the time to absorb that information and to get on board. Diversity, equity, and inclusion is a focus right now, but that wasn't always the case, right? And we kind of almost like flipped the switch overnight, right? When you look at the last two years, and having the George Floyd murder as like the trigger point, right? And for things to shift. And that's great that we're putting so much focus on it now, but not everybody was on board right away. And not that they were against it, but they just didn't understand, right? And they were kind of in the middle and they just needed to be educated.

Anthony Hannon:
So, in that respect, the conversations about the focus on DE&I, it can't stop at the boardroom, it can't stop at the executive level. It has to permeate throughout the entire organization. And you have to, again, give people time to learn, and educate themselves, and then ask questions in a respectful manner, right? So, that they can understand. And then work with them through middle management, individual contributors, whatever to help them find a role, whatever the role is that they can fit and be a part of the overall strategy. Because the fact of the matter is data shows that diverse companies are more successful companies just flat out, right?

Anthony Hannon:
Diversity breeds innovation, right? So, and it's just differences, right? I'm learning from all you women here, right? Just like I hope you're learning from me and the rest of the audiences too, right? But the more we associate ourselves with people who have similar backgrounds as us and similar thinking as us, that stumps innovation. And there's no diversity of thought there. So, educate your employees, educate the people that are kind of holding back a little bit, maybe not actively fighting against it and just give them time to give them grace to learn.

Robyn Ewers:
Thanks, Anthony. That was beautiful. And diversity also promotes, and breeds profitability. There's plenty of data out there that shows us diverse, and equitable organizations are way more profitable. Oh, Candace, thank you for putting that Gartner our link into the chat. I appreciate that. That's a great piece.

Candace Nortey:
Absolutely. And just really quickly to piggyback off of what Anthony said. And I think it's important that people understand that when we're educating, we're just making people aware. We're trying to help with understanding, which is the first step in empathy. And we're not saying believe this, or do this, we're saying put yourself in someone else's shoes. So, a thing that I feel like is really getting kind of more attention is the idea of cultural humility, and how we can all show up and humble ourselves to learn. As Anthony said, he's learning from women today. I learn from different people every single day in this space. So I think just really showing up and being a learner and being humble is critical.

Robyn Ewers:
Thank you, Candace. Hayley, you're very vocal and passionate about both small, and large organizations taking on an ethical identity. And it's so important in today's environment. Last year, in April of last year, MassMutual, BlackRock…Google Warren Buffet, and hundreds of other companies and executives signed on to statement opposing any discriminatory legislation that would make it harder for people to vote. And this came in response to efforts to enact new election rules in almost every state. In doing so, these organizations actually took an unheard step, an unheard of step in establishing an ethical identity. Can you cite, Hayley, some examples where MassMutual and other organizations have established this identity for themselves, and how to grow an ethical identity without alienating clients, constituents or investors?

Hayley Carlotto:
Yeah, absolutely. So, part of my work, why am I even talking about this, part of my work within the fellowship is building support in the business community on some justice system reforms, which is a pretty difficult space for the business community to step into. And doing this and also working with fellows from many different companies and also observing the media. I think it's become clear that more people are just expecting companies to have this ethical identity. And when I say ethical identity, I mean what do they stand for? What are they going to speak on? What is their company culture? Because it's all related.

Hayley Carlotto:
And so I think on how can companies take on this identity without alienating? I would say that politics can be divisive, or let's be real, politics are divisive right now, but values often connect us. In my work in the fellowship, we've found that starting a conversation with principles, and with values, and with empathy is often the best way to begin connecting with others on a particular issue, because a lot of people have shared values, I think. So the key for success here, I think is for companies to arrive at a set of values that is authentic to them and comes from a place that values and respects all people.

Robyn Ewers:
Thanks, Hayley. Yes. I mean, a lot of companies will establish their core values, and not necessarily live by them. And a lot of companies do establish their core values and live by them and they get to exist in a healthy environment where profitability can take place while still sticking to that ethical identity. So, that is a fantastic, easy step for every organization to make. Make sure your core values are aligned to something that you can go to sleep at night, and enact every single day. So, Anthony, with that being said, what are... We haven't really talked about your role as in the fellowship program in terms of what your focus was. We know what Hayley's focus was, but in this question, you'll be able to speak about it. What are the major considerations an organization needs to make when communicating its identical, sorry, it's ethical identity, ah. Internally and outwardly. So from a leadership perspective and a growing culture perspective, how can we do this?

Anthony Hannon:
Yeah. So, in the fellowship too, I had the opportunity to work in our education pillar. So, within our four pillars, we had education, economic empowerment, healthcare, and public safety. So specifically on increasing corporate engagement with historically black colleges, any adversities, not only a recruiting standpoint, but from a partnership standpoint, research, and development, getting with the alumni network so on, and so forth. But as far as the communication is it's being transparent. I like to quote James Stanley, Hayley, another fellow within the fellowship. And he says, "Transparency can put you on the path to truth." And again, that goes back to what I said earlier about the conversations around the importance around diversity equity, and inclusion, because I guarantee it not everybody's on board all at once at that executive and board level. There's good conversations there like that conversation, that type of conversation needs to happen throughout the organization.

Anthony Hannon:
And that's okay. We need to get to a point where we can disagree respectfully and then find a way to commit on the initiative that's agreed upon going forward, right? And again, finding a role for everybody. I think what happens is those conversations do start out at the top, and there's buy-in at the top, but that isn't communicated effectively down to the individual contributor level. So, again, being transparent with where you're at. Showing what your numbers are like today, right? Even if it's just keeping it internally, but showing your employees about what does your diversity numbers look like? Tying it to performance and kind of setting that roadmap for here's how we're going to get there, and here's why this is so important versus, "Hey, this is the new mandate. You better get on board or jump off." Like that's not a good approach for this topic, especially, but for any strategy, when you're looking for implementation, you have to communicate, you have to be transparent. You have to give reason, give people a reason why they should care about whatever the strategy is and then you'll have that investment.

Robyn Ewers:
Thank you. Thank you. I actually am going to pause for another question. I have a question from a founder who asks when I'm trying to just fill the seat with the very best person in cybersecurity, how do I focus on diversity? So essentially this person is saying that they don't care who's in the seat as long as it's the very best person for the seat.

Candace Nortey:
So, I actually, most of my clients are startup companies, and they are in this sort of predicament where they need to sink, or sail. And they really, to someone's earlier point about like, who do I know? Who do I know who that can do this well? Kind of like that referral effect. And so it's like, "Okay, I used to work with you over there. Okay. Let's let's go." And so I think two things, one, sometimes you have to have a more intentional long range plan. It's like long game. So, if you're building and starting up and down the road, you're going to need someone who is great at marketing BD, finance, legal, those skills are transferable across industries, and there's a ton of diverse talent out there, but you have to play to win. And you have to know in advance that you're seeking diverse talent to join your team.

Candace Nortey:
Also going back to transparency, as you are onboarding potential diverse candidates, you have to let them know like, this is not where we want to be, but this is where we are right now. And this is our plan. I feel like Slone Partners, when I came, I came because I believed in the leadership. I believed in what we stood for as a company in terms of diversity, equity, and inclusion. But I was watching to see if the actions lined up with the rhetoric to see if I wanted to continue my career path at Slone Partners. I don't want to be the token black person at, and most people, women, or people of color don't want to be. So I think it's really important that you're super transparent.

Candace Nortey:
And then the last thing I'll say, because a lot of my clients ask, like, "What do we do?" You also can really think about growing talent within. So having a plan to grow your talent within, I think is critically important. I think mentorship, sponsorship, internships, partnering with other organizations, it's just not going to show up on your doorstep. You have to be super intentional, super strategic, and make it a priority. If you make it a priority, what gets measured gets done.

Robyn Ewers:
Thank you, Candace.

Anthony Hannon:
Yeah. Just to jump on that too, like it goes back to the culture, right? Especially that last point that Candace made. One of the things that we do within our cybersecurity organization is we look at the roles where we can... We have a little bit more leeway, right? Where we can fail fast and it's not such a big deal. So, not necessarily entry level jobs, but just across the board, right? Where can we grow and develop somebody? We have that long range thought, right? Like Candace said. And that way we have a little bit more flexibility to get diverse candidates, right? Like the standard is always going to be the standard, right? We want people to meet that standard. It's not about lowering the bar. We want to raise people up to meet that standard. And so as we identify those diverse candidates and we have them in the door, now we as a cybersecurity organization have such a great culture that we can now develop and retain that talent.

Anthony Hannon:
So when it comes time for that leadership role and we're looking for a diverse candidate, we don't need to go external because we've been growing them for the last two to three years, whatever it is. So, keep that in mind, too. Like it's not a lack of resources where, hey, we're hiring diverse candidates, so that means that a white person who's qualified now doesn't get that job. It's a poor allocation of resources, right? So look at your onboarding. Look at the way you're hiring. Look at the talent pools that you're looking at. Again, the standards, the standards, it's not about lowering that bar, but raising people up to meet that standard.

Candace Nortey:
And Anthony, I welcome the day where seeking diversity is not synonymous with lowering the standard [inaudible 00:43:53] ...that rhetoric. So thank you for making that really, really plain, it's not. It's not the same, so thank you.

Anthony Hannon:
Exactly.

Hayley Carlotto:
And I'll piggyback, I was going to speak to this a little bit later, but I think part of the answer is also seek out diverse talent in new places, right? If you look at the same pools, you're going to get the same result. And as an example, and part of my story, MassMutual created a data science development program in the five college area of Western Massachusetts, where two of the local schools are women's colleges, the result was not too surprising, we got a lot more women, and actually half of this tech program was women, which is like, unheard of. So, the talent is there. I think we just have to strategically be building the pipelines, right?

Hayley Carlotto:
Let's build more pipelines with all the talent from HBCUs and another area is fair chance hiring and tapping into the huge pool of Americans that have had some level of involvement with the justice system that now face many barriers to meaningful employment, and careers. And there's some companies that are innovating in this area and starting to do it very well with fantastic business outcomes. So, I think it's also being intentional and strategic with how you're looking for different pools of talent.

Candace Nortey:
Hayley, I just want to say one comment about HBCUs, just because of my experience with growing our envision mentorship program. I definitely love the newfound focus on HBCUs long overdue, however, the majority of students of color attend PWIs. And so I realized that I should have been reaching out also to our other institutions and looking for programs that were specific, like the one you participated in at those universities as well. So I think it's really important. They're kind of getting inundated at the HBCU level, don't stop, but also reach out to PWIs.

Robyn Ewers:
Candace, for our participants on the, on the call who are not in [inaudible 00:46:01].

Candace Nortey:
Predominantly white institutions.

Robyn Ewers:
PWI?

Candace Nortey:
Predominantly white institutions.

Robyn Ewers:
Thank you. That's fantastic.

Candace Nortey:
Sorry about the jargon.

Robyn Ewers:
Nope. Nope. You guys are all very passionate and well educated on what you do and what we're discussing today. So I know it's easy to go into that jargon. We all do it every day. So, I want to be mindful of everybody's time. I'm going to ask one last question and I'd love to do a round Robyn here. Do you see positive trends happening right now that will result in a more diverse, and inclusive cybersecurity workforce in the years to come? And this is a two prong question. So the second part is how would you like to see companies step up to the plate to increase gender and racial equity? Anthony?

Anthony Hannon:
Yeah, I'll start. So...

Robyn Ewers:
It's not like my panelists to be quiet, you guys.

Anthony Hannon:
No, problem. I do see positive change, right? And I think it's as evidenced by this conversation today, right? That we're creating that space. We have the space today to talk about this topic and there's more of these types of conversations popping up. So, I think, that's evidence there already. The second part was, oh, how can companies step up? Keep supporting and sponsoring things like this. Hold space internally too, and educate your employees. MassMutual, utilized a program called Degree where we have different pathways set for all of our employees. Some of it mandatory, some of it optional, but we as employees have the opportunity to take time to learn about the LGBTQ+ experience, right? The black, and African American experience, the Hispanic experience, Latinx experience, like all these different communities that we otherwise wouldn't understand the challenges that they face. And so having the opportunity for sponsorship on education, and again, giving people the time of grace to learn is how I'd like companies to step up.

Robyn Ewers:
Thanks, Anthony.

Hayley Carlotto:
I'll chime in next. I think taking a view of the workforce broadly, our fellowship, and its parent organization are great examples of positive trends. I mean the CEO Action for Racial Equity fellowship more than 100 organizations are lending their own talent to the cause of racial equity. Within our parent organization, CEO action for diversity, and inclusion, there's more than 2000 CEOs that have made pledges, and at least 150 of those companies are in the information technology sector. Another data point, chief diversity officers are the fastest growing leadership role. So, I definitely see the business community prioritizing DE&I, and then not a positive trend, but I think a factor that will hopefully result in a more diverse workforce is actually the talent shortage that's in nearly every industry.

Hayley Carlotto:
There was a recent McKinsey study that basically said, when you combine the shortage of talent with population growth of less than one percent a year, the US economy will only grow by training and retraining more people. And this study also said that the largest pools of undertrained talent are found in communities of color. So, hopefully for all of our sakes, because we all want a growing thriving economy, businesses will seize the opportunity of greater diversity for many other important reasons, but also to address their own talent shortages. And then for the second part of the two-pronged question, how would I like to see companies stepping up to the plate? I would just underline seeking out talent in diverse places again, I think that's a key way and also pay equity, right?

Robyn Ewers:
Pay equity. Yep. Thanks, Hayley. And last, but certainly not least, Candace?

Candace Nortey:
I'll be short and sweet. So, I am encouraged. This webinar is one example. Also we have clients showing up every day, asking hard questions, seeking help, wanting to understand, trying to get it right from supplier diversity to a recruitment strategy to education, and learning, companies are still in it. So I think my ask would be, is to stay in it. DEI seemed sexy the last two years, and I call myself a keepy-upy expert, like help you keep it up. Like keep that ball up. I was watching a cartoon, Bluey, with my daughter. And it was the balloon episode where they're like keeping it up. And I cracked up to myself thinking when you're little, you would like jump over a couch to get that balloon from hitting the floor. I'm too old for that now. But if we treated DEI like that balloon, man, we'd be really, really making an impact. So, I want companies to step up by keeping it up, by staying focused and keeping going. Thank you, Erica. Yes.

Robyn Ewers:
Yeah. That's a fantastic way to close this out, Candace. I mean, I actually played that balloon game with my son yesterday and was thinking about you in that Bluey analogy, so thank you for that. And what I'd love to do now, after I say thank you to our amazing panelists is open it up. If anybody wants to take themselves off mute, and have some dialogue or ask a question or throw it in the chat, we'd be happy to answer any questions. And if now is a natural time for you to log, if you can't stay on, thank you for joining us today.

Ian:
Thank you guys. It's so much information. I really appreciate it. Thank you.

Robyn Ewers:
Thank you, Ian. Thanks for joining us.

Peter Ross:
Hey, Candace, it's Peter Ross. So you had mentioned impact, which is an interesting vocabulary word because a lot of annual reports come out with a parallel report called the impact report. And that's usually the corporate responsibility-ish thing, right? So, I just came off of an assignment with Voya where they have an impact report. Have you seen other firms where they've taken this, and actually brought it out in their impact report to say, "Hey, here's how we see the future of our recruiting needs, and the approach", because that shortage part, Hayley, I'm conscious of, and in the technology world, you can't just overnight learn things. So, I'm hopeful, as you said, they're going to do that. They're going to reach into those communities. But I was curious, so Candace, have you seen anybody kind of speak to that impact as a corporation?

Candace Nortey:
Yeah. Peter, great question. So I think when I think about DE&I and the journey, I think about being mature along the way, right? And so I think companies that are more mature, they tend to lean towards what is the impact. So, wherever you're on the journey, it's important, like starting, setting goals, but measuring the impact to me is the ultimate goal. Like, is it working? What's the impact that we're making? So, I do have several partnerships for one example, California Life Sciences, where their racial and social equity initiative is all about impact, and therefore pillars, they measure the impact quarter by quarter, year by year, and they report that out. So I do see a trend moving towards making that a part of the transparency. What is the impact?

Peter Ross:
Great. Thank you.

Candace Nortey:
Of course.

Robyn Ewers:
Thanks for the question, Peter. All right. Anyone else?

Mason:
Really quickly, so obviously this question's going to be kind of loaded. We could have a whole other webinar discussion here and I don't want to go another hour. I know everyone's busy, but so you talked a lot about best practices, diverse candidate pools being an ally, and such, and Candace, something you said really stuck with me about if everyone could take that into their little corner of the world. Do you think there's any of these best practices that you could take home with you or resources to share that could really help impact your little corner in your personal life, as well as your professional life?

Candace Nortey:
That's a good one, Mason. So, I do really think the idea of cultural humility would help a lot because it would help with biased microaggressions because it's a very self-reflective practice. And so it always brings it back to the person as opposed to their feeling of like white guilt, or privilege, or it doesn't have anything to do with me, or oh, that's not the business case. So, I think, for me, number one is this idea of cultural humility. And then I would marry that with cultural competency. So I want to be both competent and I want to be humble. I think if everybody in their corner of the world showed up humble, wanting to be aware and learn. I think that would make the greatest impact, because as we're hiring, making recommendations for promotion asking people on stretch, to participate on stretch assignments, we're going to constantly think about that in every decision that we make.

Robyn Ewers:
That was great. Does anyone else want to take their own personal answer on that question? If not...?

Anthony Hannon:
Oh, I was just going to add, just demonstrate courage, right? With everything that Candace said, like it takes courage to like, and vulnerability to put yourself out there and realize what you don't know, and also have the courage to challenge things that you don't necessarily agree with, but like, again, how do you move forward collectively? So, this can be an uncomfortable topic, but being able to have that courage, vulnerability, and humility, like that leads towards progress.

Robyn Ewers:
All right. Well, thank you, Anthony. I'm going to end this on courage, vulnerability, and humility because it's such a good mantra for us to repeat in our heads at the end of the day, we could all use all three of those qualities. So, I just want to thank all three of you for being part of this discussion today, and making it meaningful. You're amazing humans. I'm lucky to have conversations with you offline, and I wish I could keep talking to you all day, but I know everyone has important jobs to do. So, thank you. Thank you to our panelists and thank you to our attendees, and feel free to reach out to any single one of us. I'll make sure that everybody's in the follow up email, everybody's contact information. And if you ever have a question, or want some commentary, I'm sure everybody would be happy to respond. With that, have a fantastic day and keep on keeping on.

Anthony Hannon:
Thank you.

Hayley Carlotto:
Thank you so much for having us.

Ian:
Thanks, you guys.

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