Inside Hadrian

4 mins

Breaking Barriers: LGBTQ+ Inclusion in Cybersecurity

Security Operations Analyst

Inclusion and diversity are critical components of any thriving workplace, and the field of cybersecurity is no exception. While traditionally lacking in diversity, the cybersecurity community has seen significant strides in creating a more inclusive environment for all, including LGBTQ+ individuals. This blog post will explore the importance of inclusion, the efforts within the cybersecurity community, Hadrian’s commitment to inclusivity, and how allies can support LGBTQ+ colleagues.

Inclusion in the workplace is vital for fostering a supportive and productive environment. Diverse teams bring varied perspectives, driving innovation and improving problem-solving. When LGBTQ+ individuals feel accepted, they can focus on their work without the distraction of hiding their true selves. This acceptance boosts morale, loyalty, and productivity, creating a positive feedback loop that benefits the entire organization.

Inclusivity in the Cybersecurity Community

In my 24 years of living, I’ve come out twice. First as bisexual, then as non-binary. I’ve also worked in tech, or been in cyber security spaces since I was a teenager. The cybersecurity community, while historically lacking in diversity, has pockets of inclusivity that stand out, which I’d like to discuss today. Many hackers and cybersecurity professionals are not only LGBTQ+ themselves but are also allies who actively support inclusivity. Online communities and conferences like DEF CON offer safe spaces for queer individuals to connect and share their experiences.

For instance, DEF CON hosts QueerCon and provides a 24/7 hotline during the conference, ensuring attendees have access to support, whether they just need someone to chat to, or would like to anonymously report code of conduct violations. Their Discord community also allows members to mingle and build connections even before, during, or even after the event, creating a sense of belonging, connection, and safety. Another conference that should be highlighted is BlackHat, who strive to take simple steps to ensure transgender attendees can feel secure and welcome by allowing people to use their preferred name on their badge, despite it not matching their identification card or passport. Even the smallest of efforts can have a huge impact, and these are just things that I’ve noticed.

There are many other conferences and organizations that take an active role in bringing awareness or welcoming LGBTQ+ individuals, and we can all be inspired and strive to match the energy of these conferences who make it a more wholesome experience for both allies and queer people alike.

Hadrian’s Commitment to Inclusivity

At Hadrian, I’m grateful to be surrounded by a supportive environment. With more than a dozen LGBTQ+ colleagues, our workplace culture is one of respect and acceptance. We have gender-neutral bathrooms, menstrual products in all restrooms, and a policy of using restrooms that match one’s gender identity, just to start. Hadrian also strives to improve continuously, listening to employee feedback and implementing changes to enhance the safety and security of our LGBTQ+ members, or people of color. Our community program, launched with the support of our Head of Product Marketing and Chief Hacking Officer, aims to extend this inclusive culture beyond the workplace, and into the infosec spaces as well.

Recommendations for Allies

Allies play a crucial role in fostering an inclusive environment. Together that is how we tackle lack of diversity, education on LGBTQ+ issues, and tackling divisive problems within the field. Without allies, we cannot make the space more welcoming. Allies who want to better support queer folks in the hacker and security spaces can take simple steps to make it much safer, and welcoming.

  1. Ask for Pronouns: When meeting someone new, ask for their pronouns. This shows respect and helps avoid misgendering, not to mention, even cisgender people get misgendered, so adding this to your habits can foster an environment where everyone can feel comfortable and welcome.
  2. Provide Feedback Channels: Ensure LGBTQ+ individuals can provide feedback to leadership about their experiences and needs. Especially as a manager, making sure queer colleagues can express any concerns, comments or feedback can help tackle the casual homophobia or transphobia in these spaces. 
  3. Normalize Pronouns in Nametags: Include pronouns in nametags and email signatures to normalize their use. This can help foster an environment of acceptance and can encourage the use of peoples pronouns correctly. Practice makes perfect.
  4. Support Inclusive Policies: Advocate for and support policies that promote inclusion and protect LGBTQ+ rights. Being able to use the bathroom you’re most comfortable with, or better yet, gender neutral bathrooms can make spaces safer for queer colleagues in the work place, or at conferences. 
  5. Educate Yourself: Continuously educate yourself about LGBTQ+ issues and terminology. This demonstrates a commitment to being an informed ally. Staying informed about ongoing issues, and working together with queer folks can help tackle these issues head on and eliminate them from infosec spaces. 

Hadrian Has A Community!

Hadrian offers a safe space for discussing cybersecurity topics. Our Discord community is a place for queer and ally hackers to connect, share resources, and support each other. We provide tips for getting started in hacking and have exciting surprises in store. Join us to be part of a welcoming and inclusive community. We also have our own subreddit, instagram and Twitter/X where you can reach out to us, stay up to date with latest information, find career opportunities with an inclusive environment, or ask questions on getting started in security.

While the infosec spaces aren’t perfect, I find it heartening to see the cybersecurity community’s kindness and inclusivity. While there is always room for improvement, I am proud to be part of a field that is increasingly welcoming to queer and trans individuals, and working with individuals who make people like me feel safer. Happy Pride Month, everyone!

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