International Women’s Day: Defenders Share Advice on How to #BreaktheBias

Imagine we lived in a world where there was no gender bias… a world where differences are celebrated. That’s how we started out the conversation as we celebrated women at Cybereason in an International Women’s Day panel discussion with women defenders from across the organization.

We had close to 400 participants from around the globe join in and engage with our phenomenal panelists:

  • Denise Booth—Sales Enablement Director, US
  • Rina Bruter—Engineering Group Lead, Israel
  • Batel Delaroz—R&D Squad Lead, Israel
  • Vivian Haag—Sales Director, Germany
  • Mary Roche—Onboarding Specialist, Ireland
  • Lily Wang—Corporate Controller, US

These panelists’ responses to the questions—focused on this year’s International Women’s Day theme, #BreakTheBias—were so impactful, we knew we needed to share some of them in our blog.

They went beyond the typical quotes from famous female leaders and career advice columns, and were vulnerable in sharing their own personal experiences, missteps and triumphs. It’s difficult to summarize an event packed with so much wisdom and inspiration, but we’ve selected a few of our favorite highlights.

Why Do We Need More Women In Leadership?

Vivian answered with a chuckle, “Well, women make up 50% of the population, so I think men should have 50% of the jobs. This is a very vigorous feminist statement, but

baffles us so much because it’s somehow very obvious, and somehow we’re not there yet. So I think we should strive to have 50% women in leadership—politically, economically, everywhere. I think we would benefit from it.” Batel joined in, also with a hint of humor, “Why would we need tall people in leadership… or red-haired people, or bald people? We don’t, we just need them in the same proportion we have in the population. If we don’t reflect 50% women, then something has gone wrong and we need to fix it.”

Denise gave a statistical mic-drop moment to sum it up, “Other than the fact that women are awesome, the stats just speak for themselves. Companies that have a higher percentage of women in C-level roles have 34% greater return to their stakeholders. So if you want to make more money, get women in the right positions.” Whether these points were quite obvious or well-researched, we find ourselves wondering how all of this is true, yet women still, on average, struggle to achieve equity in the workplace.

How Do We Encourage Women To Pursue Senior Leadership Positions?

There were many good answers to this one, but Lily summed it up best: “I think it’s practice—practice with things like asking for what we deserve. We always get better with practicing, and it might be uncomfortable in the beginning. To be honest, I still find myself feeling uncomfortable when asking for things for myself. But we have to be comfortable with being uncomfortable sometimes, and just remember that growth and comfort don’t coexist.”

This point struck a chord across the audience. Stepping out of our comfort zone to advocate for ourselves can be a daunting psychological test at first, especially if we’ve been used to minimizing ourselves to make others feel comfortable. It helps to remember that, like with many things in life, practice makes progress.

What Is One Piece Of Advice You Would Give To Your Younger Self?

“First of all, have your own opinion, and stand behind it. Don’t wait for others to approve your thoughts, actions, or ideas. Also, always try new ideas and things—don’t hesitate,” says Rina.

Mary added some encouragement that seemed to resonate with the entire panel, “It’s ok if you don’t fit into the norm or are more eccentric than the other kids. Celebrate it, be proud of it, take it with you! Ultimately, just stay true to yourself and everything will fall into place.”

What a fantastic reminder of the importance of most popular core value: #UbU. In fact, most if not all of the advice and stories from our International Women’s Day panel tied in to all the values we hold dear at Cybereason. To further explore this connection, we took a look back at values-driven quotes from women in leadership at Cybereason:

DARING: “Let’s strive for us women to continue to push each other and ourselves to our next level constantly, to make ourselves comfortable in uncomfortable situations, and then take another step forward into the discomfort. Not to be content with having crossed a barrier, but to continue to cross barriers.” –Emmy Linder, COO

UBU: “For me, getting ahead doesn’t mean suppressing my femininity, it means using the best of who I am and finding ways for my authentic self to continue to advance in business – without apologies.” —Meg O’Leary, CMO

NEVER GIVE UP: "Never give up equates to resilience for me. Resilience is a superpower for everyone and especially women in cyber. We all face adversity - personally and professionally. Those of us who can bounce back with courage and empathy are the winners in life." —Abigail Maines, Vice President North America Commercial & Channel Sales

EVER EVOLVING: “In the tech industry, many underrepresented groups—especially women—are still struggling to find their place. For cybersecurity, that fact is even more apparent. But, nothing will change if we don't actively and aggressively work to move the needle. This is why we need to change our thinking to focus on whether a candidate is a Culture Add rather than a Culture Fit.” —Marisa Ianelli, Vice President People

WIN AS ONE: “You can succeed. If you can’t find a place where you can “win as one,” work with others to create one. You can make the world a better place, and you can be part of this industry which is both exciting and innovative.” —Aoibh Wood, Senior Director of Partner Service Delivery

We touched on building awareness and sharing advice, but what’s next for our actions to #BreakTheBias? Cybereason CEO Lior Div has a vision for success. At the close of our panel, he added this: “We need to remember every day that there is still hard work to do in order to make sure that everybody will be treated equally. But I do think that we, as a company, can be a role model—-we can be in a leadership position in showing what it means to build a company that treats everyone as equals.” We’re thrilled to celebrate International Women’s Day, and Women’s History Month, throughout the month, through education, activities and events. We invite all our Defenders, customers and peers to join us as we work together to break the bias.

Guest blog courtesy of Cybereason. Read more Cybereason guest blogs here. Regularly contributed guest blogs are part of MSSP Alert’s sponsorship program.