Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging at Praetorian: Reflecting the World We Want to Protect

deib-at-praetorian

Overview

At Praetorian, our mission is to make the world a safer and more secure place. Literally: all our work comes down to protecting the vulnerable from those who would harm them in the realm of cybersecurity. We fundamentally believe that if our staff is all one type of person (cisgender, heteronormative, neurotypical, affluent white men as with most of our industry) then we limit that mission. We need to represent the world we are trying to save, and all the beauty and struggles that come along with it. Our goal to reach 50% diversity by the end of 2021 reflects a layered intention: To put our people first by creating a safe, inclusive, welcoming environment in which anyone can thrive. To put our clients first, also, by representing our world in all its complexity. And to set an example for diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEIB) that other cybersecurity companies can emulate.

Steps in the Right Direction

Praetorian was founded on the philosophical ideal of making craters: that we would change the landscape of our industry by finding solutions to problems rather than simply identifying them and accepting them as status quo. We recognize that the status quo in cybersecurity is neither diverse, equitable, nor inclusive. This problem is unacceptable, and we have a responsibility not only to find a solution but to influence change in our industry. And so we begin here, where we strive daily to build a psychologically and physically safe environment for all people. We intentionally engage with institutions, groups, and individuals that help us identify, access and engage applicants that represent the diverse talent we are looking to support. We celebrate our colleagues’ differences and embrace them as they are. We have hard conversations with staff who make comments that are unacceptable, and we let people go who have not taken that coaching on board.

Over the past year, we have made significant improvements in more quantifiable DEIB areas, specifically with recruiting and compensation-leveling efforts. As a result, our staff is 35% diverse (an 84% increase over the past year) in contrast to global industry diversity averages of 11% female and 26% minority, as reported by the National Technology Security Coalition1. We are proud to partner with Girls Who Code and Women in Cybersecurity, and are seeking a partnership with My Brother’s Keeper. These organizations help us identify underrepresented talent and provide guidance on internal policies so that we design an equal, inclusive, and safe space for all our staff. Longer-term, we plan to reach out to high schools and colleges to sponsor programs that encourage women and minorities to consider cybersecurity as a viable career choice.

We also are proud of our equity-focused policies of interview loops and pay band transparency. For each new job posting, staff who will conduct the interviews hold a kick-off call with the purpose of defining the needs for the role. They use those clear requirements to design interview loops and create scorecards using Greenhouse. The resulting interview process is equitable for every applicant.

Our pay bands are likewise designed to maximize equity. A study by the Applied Psychology Association2 showed white males are more likely to negotiate successfully than their female counterparts, which when coupled with policies of compensation confidentiality leads to inequitable compensation for the same work. On average, women in the US workforce make between 10-24.4% less than their similarly qualified and experienced male counterparts, not accounting for any racial differences, according to the Institute of Women’s Policy Research3. At Praetorian, though, our staff do not have to negotiate themselves into being paid at a rate equitable with their peers. We simply ensure that it happens. Our posted pay bands align with our core value of defaulting to open: transparency regarding salary leads to equal compensation across roles, regardless of any differences in gender, race, physical ability, or sexuality.

Moving Forward

We almost certainly will make more missteps as we move forward, but we will humbly acknowledge those, too, and seek to do better. That drive aligns directly with our core value of trying harder. We don’t stop when things are hard or when we fail. We simply try again, and our approach to DEIB is no different. We will listen to voices of marginalized communities in an effort to understand and connect, design policies that have long-term effects across our organization, and view the results through a lens of humility. We will be proud of our successful efforts to increase our DEIB and acknowledge when we take a misstep. And we will reassess and try again, over and over, because the first step in shifting the status quo of the cybersecurity industry is building a company that reflects and is safe for the world we are driven to protect.

References

[1] Patton, H. (2021). Cybersecurity diversity cannot be solved by tools or policy, but by the way we think. National Technology and Security Coalition Blog.
[2] Dannals, J. E., Zlatev, J. J., Halevy, N., & Neale, M. A. (2021). The dynamics of gender and alternatives in negotiation. Journal of Applied Psychology. Advance online publication.
[3] Hegewisch, A., & Mefferd, E. (2021). The gender wage gap by occupation, race, and ethnicity 2020. Institute for Women’s Policy Research Blog.

About the Authors

Michelle Rhodes

Michelle Rhodes

As Praetorian’s Director of People Operations, Michelle steers a top-tier global talent acquisition program while cultivating Praetorian’s hyper-growth. She is focused on fostering community activation, innovative strategies, and employee retention. Michelle is known for her strategic approach to hiring and integrating cybersecurity experts into startups, steering companies towards rapid growth and global expansion.

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