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September 05, 2017
Gender diversity as a catalyst in cybersecurity
By: Joshua Kennedy-White

“Getting to Equal”—this is Accenture’s bold commitment to ensure the future workforce is an equal one. We’ve set a goal of achieving a gender-balanced workforce by growing our percentage of women to 50 percent of our workforce by 2025. As the head of Accenture Security for Asia Pacific, I couldn’t agree more. A workforce that is equal and gender-balanced is a commitment we work toward every day.

There are two reasons for this. First, it’s the right thing to do. Second, it makes us better. Lisa O’Connor, managing director of Accenture Labs–Security R&D, has said that the path to real innovation in cybersecurity is to achieve diversity across the ranks of security professionals. It’s difficult to fault this logic: Diversity works.

In security, as in many areas of our practice, diversity is a true differentiator—a way to ensure we become more innovative, more in tune with our customers and more likely to stay ahead of security’s bad actors.

I have no hesitation in saying that we do more than just "talk the talk." We offer our people the opportunity to immerse themselves in an ecosystem that supports and values individuality and flexibility. It’s an easy choice: It helps us innovate, ideate and disrupt. Whether we’re targeting hackers or promoting big-picture strategists, we recognize it's the diversity of our people that makes us stronger, smarter and more effective as a team.

I’ve seen it again and again: Inclusion and diversity act as a spark, a catalyst—professionally and personally. That’s why we’re constantly looking for a diverse group of people to help us think and create better security solutions for clients. Whether it is security analysts, security consultants or network security specialists, when we advertise open positions in security, we understand that every role is an opportunity to get us to equal status for all employees and become a better partner for our clients. Accenture employs more than 150,000 women—around 40 percent of our workforce. Last year, 30 percent of our promotions to managing director were women, the largest percentage ever.

We champion gender diversity beyond just Accenture and are proud to serve as diamond sponsor of the Executive Women’s Forum to help advance women in IT security. We’re helping to close the gender gap in technology through our partnerships with organizations like Girls Who Code and our local Tech Girls Are Superheroes movement in Australia. And we’ve conducted a number of women’s research studies with recent insights into how to close the pay gap and triple the number of women in computing. Interestingly, a recent report found that digital fluency (a reference for how digital knowledge helps women and men become more knowledgeable, connected and effective) can help level the field, act as an accelerant in every stage of a person’s career and enable greater work flexibility.  

For myself and my team, gender diversity is more personal than surveys and numbers. We believe that everyone needs to have a voice and everybody should be recognized for their ideas—even if they deviate from the group’s view. This is precisely the value of diversity: to integrate different views, opinions and personalities. Every person at Accenture has a unique voice and we want to hear every one of them. In nature, the key trait that determines survival is diversity. This is equally true for organizations: Diversity is a critical factor for adaptation and survival.

Chairman and CEO Pierre Nanterme said it well: “Diversity makes our business stronger and more innovative and, most important, it makes the world a better place.”

I invite you to learn more about diversity at Accenture and how you can use your own voice for change by joining our #InclusionStartsWithI conversation.

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