Heather Gantt-Evans is currently the Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) at SailPoint - the leader in identity security governance. Heather has 15 years experience across cybersecurity, technology management, digital transformation, risk, resilience, privacy, compliance, and marketing. She has broad experience working within government and commercial sectors including financial, technology, retail, and manufacturing industries.
Following on from International Women's Day, Hamlyn Williams are continuing the conversations with female leaders in our markets, and around how companies and recruitment can make work more equal and diverse. Want to contribute? Drop us a line at email@example.com.
What would you say was the biggest obstacle you have had to overcome working in your industry?
As a woman in a male dominated career field, I think the biggest obstacle is projecting the right levels of confidence. Women tend to be highly analytical and empathetic. This can result in a whirlwind of concerns and alternate scenarios playing out in our heads which can very easily appear to be lack of confidence. However, this comes with strengths also. For example, greater ability to understand audience and analyze risks.
In your career when have you experienced feelings of empowerment or disempowerment working in your industry?
At the core of it, empowerment is something someone in a position of greater power gives you. So, I feel most empowered when my manager and their peers extend trust in me, encourage me, and give me latitude to make my own judgement calls.
"Diverse talent talks to diverse talent about their employment experiences. The best way to build a more balanced team is to ensure your diverse talent is treated fairly, rewarded, and invested in."
Have things improved in your market on the stance of diversity?
I do feel things are improving. There is still more work to be done but I love the progress so far. For example, now there are conferences specifically geared towards women in cybersecurity and technology. Women feel more comfortable asking about a company’s diversity numbers and being selective on where they go based on how focused the company is on diversity. I see more women being promoted into leadership and gaps being closed around compensation.
How do you approach hiring a more balanced team, and how does that impact the market overall?
Diverse talent talks to diverse talent about their employment experiences. The best way to build a more balanced team is to ensure your diverse talent is treated fairly, rewarded, and invested in. This results in referrals to other diverse talent. It is also very important to get involved – starting a women in cybersecurity networking group, bringing in diverse and inspirational leaders to talk to your team, sponsoring conferences targeting diverse audiences, be transparent on diversity numbers, provide opportunities for the team to learn how to identify bias and be more inclusive, etc.
What are some simple steps people can take to reduce unconscious bias in the workplace?
Read and listen. Ask people what hardships they have had based on their diversity. Ask them how they like to be supported and included. Educate yourself with books like How to be an Anti-Racist, Inclusify, etc.
How can men contribute more to women’s empowerment in your industry?
Champion a woman you believe in. Suggest her for opportunities that she isn’t in the room to volunteer for herself. Tell people how amazingly talented she is and work hard to retain and advance her.
"Champion a woman you believe in. Suggest her for opportunities that she isn’t in the room to volunteer for herself."