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DE&I at Panaseer: breaking down barriers in cyber

June 07, 2024

George Whittaker

In this blog post, we explore diversity in cybersecurity and go in-depth with how we are developing a DE&I program. Let’s hear more about the Seers behind this initiative.

What is DE&I?

DE&I (Diversity, Equity & Inclusion) is a framework for fostering an inclusive workplace. When it comes to diversity in cybersecurity and at Panaseer, this can mean folks can be their authentic selves, with people here feeling included and part of the community we are building.

It can be as simple as giving visibility to facets of who we are. This month for instance is Pride Month, where we’ll run a mix of activities to celebrate and educate Seers about LGBTQ+ folk.

If we break it down by each word, McKinsey has the following definitions that I found useful to explain the topic:

  • Diversity refers to who is represented in the workforce. Some examples of diversity in workplaces include gender, age, ethnic as well as physical ability and neurodiversity.
  • Equity refers to fair treatment for all people, so that the norms, practices, and policies in place ensure identity is not predictive of opportunities or workplace outcomes.
  • Inclusion refers to how the workforce experiences the workplace and the degree to which organizations embrace all employees and enable them to make meaningful contributions.

How can we better facilitate diversity in cybersecurity?

There’s a great culture of Seers sharing their experiences, holidays, and personal stories. We have a great space to give people room to share their stories and experiences, which is so meaningful and special to share. It goes from hypothetical ideas of what needs or surface-level differences you think someone might have and becomes something real.

A highlight of 2024 for me was a panel we had at the Seer Summit. Women across the company shared their experiences of motherhood, cultural gender-based expectations, the challenges faced by women who taught, worked in cybersecurity for 20+ years, and so much more.

I can’t do it justice with written words, it was very much a you had to be there moment, but everyone in the room was hanging on every word that was said. It was a moment of real connection between the panel and Seers across the business.

If I had to cover a culture of DE&I simply: be open with people. Share your lived experiences and listen to those of others. It’s a gift to be able to learn about other people and their experiences.

It’s so fascinating when you have surprising things in common, or to learn about the footsteps they’ve made in life down paths you would never have thought about otherwise.

The DE&I committee at Panaseer

Early in 2016, when Panaseer was much smaller, our Lead Data Scientist Leila kicked off the diversity-in-tech group. This had the full backing and engagement of the founders of Panaseer.

This would eventually be the basis for various working groups. Early on there was a focus on promoting better practices around gender equality and awareness of where diversity in cybersecurity was at (and there’s still a long way to go!).

It’s shaped numerous aspects here since, including how our recruitment process has evolved and standardised. We introduced a values-fit interview as well to ensure new joiners aligned with the values that form the company. We also try to have diverse panels of Seers to carry them out.

The committee is made up of the following Seers:

  • Frankie (Customer Success)
  • Tim (Support & Services)
  • Feranmi (Implementation Engineering)
  • Bethan (People Team)
  • Abhishek (Product Management)
  • Thordis (Data Science)

People are free to jump in and out based on commitments, but it’s a delight to work with a cross-functional group! We all believe in making Panaseer a more inclusive community. Our efforts would be for naught if it wasn’t for the people beyond the committee doing their bit too.

Looking forward to the year ahead, we’re trying to connect people in more engaging ways. This includes sharing music, sessions to learn and grow together, working with the People team to keep up the great work of our predecessors, and ensure anyone new to Panaseer has a positive, inclusive experience from the word go.

A personal story

In 2022, I joined Panaseer and sabotaged the all-women Data Science team. As penance, I wanted to do my part for diversity. To be entirely serious though, I’ve sometimes found it difficult to express myself. This is partly from being anxious about judgement, and partly from how the circuitry between my brain and the words I put together can decide not to play ball!

I’m getting better at the first one with time, but it helps to be in a place with no judgement. It’s easier to talk to people when I’m not also mentally limiting myself to avoiding referring to my partner in case it leads to judgement – or worse, drunken inquiries on social occasions which you wouldn’t ask of someone straight.

Panaseer waved a green (or rainbow, given the month) flag from the start. The DE&I committee introduced themselves to new starters, even at the interview stage, it was clear that there was a considerate, socially conscious mindset here and that I could be myself. I knew immediately I wanted to be a part of it.

Our guest writer for this article is George Whittaker, a Data Analyst in the Data Science team here at Panaseer.

If you want to read more about DE&I at Panaseer,  follow us on LinkedIn to get more updates on what we are up to, or visit the culture page to read more.