A group of over 90 women working in cybersecurity roles formed The Forte Group, a nonprofit organization for the education and advocacy of women in the cybersecurity industry.
The volunteer group is headquartered in California but offers global membership. The group was informally formed earlier during the pandemic. Members would meet once a month to share their experiences and also use their collective voice as a means of change.
“Over time, we have seen the collective power of this group. Formally forming a non-profit organization allows us to raise and deploy funds to further our mission. We’ve heard from companies and organizations that want to contribute to the work we do, and we felt it was a missed opportunity without the structure in place to partner with these people,” said Zenobia Godschalk, Vice -president of the Forte group. .
The group brought in experts on topics including trading techniques, compensation talks, angel investing, and ransomware best practices. Their goal is to raise questions about inequalities in the industry and work with those in power to change them – whether it’s all-male panels showcasing diversity or sharing codes of conduct with event organizers. conferences to adopt during their events.
“Forte members share ideas, resources and support each other when the going gets tough, which unfortunately is often the case for our CISOs. The topic of Software Bill of Materials (SBOM) is a prime example. The community held a town hall earlier in the year to share interests and ideas for a third-party and vendor management strategy in a safe space,” said Didi Dayton, President of Forte Group.
Dayton said the group has formed a CISO Advisory Council to provide a safe space for sharing information and research relevant to CISOs. The group claims to be a safe space where women in this industry can find a resource for just about anything they face in their careers – whether it’s negotiating an equity offer for pay or a investment, how to navigate ransomware best practices, or how to join their first board.
Focus on formal training
Currently, the Forte group consists primarily of senior executives who serve their organizations and serve on the boards of large organizations. However, for the next year they will focus on expanding their membership base, adding more mentors, more members and introducing formal training.
The group could serve as a platform for buyers and investors to test new technologies aimed at solving some of the age-old problems in cybersecurity, Dayton said.
“The reason is that we have so many practitioners in the group who understand what it takes to build programs and evolve the architecture to ensure resilience,” she added.
Marnie Wilking, board member of Robert Half International and former global head of safety and risk for Wayfair, said the group has experts she can turn to for a “safe space” to ask questions. issues and stay current in an industry that is changing rapidly.
In addition to networking and having the opportunity to join advisory boards based on recommendations from group members, Winking said she has personally benefited from the mentorship.
“We are all at different stages in our careers and have had different experiences, which can be extremely valuable. I recently joined the Robert Half Board of Directors, and although I have served on advisory boards and not-for-profit, this is my first public board, so it was helpful to reach out to other women in the group who are already serving on public boards to hear their experience and get tips for success” , she added.
Another member of the group, Aanchal Gupta, CVP, Microsoft Security Response Center (MSRC), said the group helped her survive the toughest times by providing the social support that was lacking during the pandemic. “We have built a safe place together where female executives can share ideas, learn from each other and grow,” she added.
Reet Kaur, CISO at Portland Community College, said she got mentorship and social support from a group of trusted advisors to discuss technical, leadership and personal growth challenges in real time while striving to succeed in his first role as CISO during the pandemic.
“We discussed the latest cybersecurity and privacy trends, challenges and threats affecting all organizations and potential response plans such as supply chain risks, blockchain and privacy, SolarWinds and log4j, ransomware insurance options, etc.,” she added.
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