It’s so important to encourage more women to pursue a career in cybersecurity, and I think one of the ways to do that is to have more visible women in the space sharing their career journeys. From the talks and conferences I’ve attended, it’s clear there are a lot of women doing great things within cybersecurity, but that they need to be given a platform to showcase their talent more. This visibility is crucial because the more people can see others who look like them doing excellent things within the industry, the more they’ll be inclined to pursue a career in cybersecurity.
When I started my career and was considering companies to work for, it was all about which organisation was the best fit for me. When I drew up a shortlist of suitable companies, I did a lot of research on their culture and was keen to be shown that cybersecurity was not only a good fit for women but that it was a good fit for black women. What drew me to Accenture was a video I found on YouTube, where a woman was talking about her experience of working there. As I could completely relate to her and to her experiences that helped me make my decision.
I grew up in Nigeria where I did my undergraduate degree in computer engineering. I then worked for about a year before moving to the UK to do a master’s in information security. I joined Accenture in 2017 and when I first started, I was the only black female member in our Cybersecurity practice in London. Then a year later, another black lady joined our team, and more black people quickly came onboard. Since starting three years ago, things are changing, but I still think there’s a lot of work to be done in terms of ethnic representation across all job levels. That said, Inclusion and Diversity (I&D) is one of Accenture’s core initiatives and very much at the forefront of the company’s ambitions. For the past few years, the focus has been around gender but, with ‘Black Lives Matter’ happening I’ve noticed a shift towards ethnicity. Now some great initiatives are underway, particularly in recruitment, representation and advocacy.
The Accenture African and Caribbean Network (AACN) is also doing a lot of work in terms of supporting employees when they first join and are really helping people to understand how to progress within the company. As they provided some great support when I first started, I got more involved with the network during last year’s Black History Month by organising an event for our Cybersecurity practice. I think that event is one of my proudest moments so far.
When Accenture held a keynote event called ‘Black Is’, I organised my first event on this theme just for our team. We got sponsorship from our I&D leaders, had African Caribbean food and excellent speakers. We also had a panel who talked openly about what it means to be black. As well as helping to build awareness, the event served to start a conversation, which is crucial in order to make change happen. The feedback I received from my leadership afterwards was great, but even better was that those who’d attended said they felt more supported. Even towards the end of the year, people were still talking about how good the event had been, and that they’ve never had a similar theme discussed so openly before.
Thanks to that event, along with another female peer, I’m now running an AACN subgroup within Cybersecurity to provide more support to our members. This means we can plug into the wider AACN and then distil news and updates within our team. When ‘Black Lives Matter’ happened earlier this year, I also gave a presentation within Cybersecurity to share the actions my colleagues could take as allies, as “we stand together against racism”.
There are two things I really love about working at Accenture. Firstly, it’s how technology driven Accenture is and how it keeps innovating in future and emerging technologies. That resonates with our new brand focus, ‘Let there be change’. I believe it means that as a company our senior leaders and executive board are not just listening to employees, but they’re also listening and thinking about the future of technology and what’s happening around the world and how that impacts on what we do as an organisation. The other thing I love is Accenture’s drive for inclusion and diversity - this is one company that doesn’t shy away from conversations. For example during the time of ‘Black Lives Matter’ our people were speaking up and our leaders were listening and they are now taking steps towards addressing the diversity gap by increasing the number of black people working here and also increasing representation across the senior board. I’m encouraged that when it comes to inclusion and diversity, Accenture is at the forefront of listening and implementing initiatives that essentially help progress the careers of its minority groups.
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