On March 8th, Silicon Valley will join with the world in celebrating International Women’s Day. It’s a fairly new trend here in the U.S., with some companies in the last year or two starting to observe the date by profiling key employees or honoring them with lunches and flowers. But International Women’s Day is not new. In fact, it has been observed in Europe and elsewhere for more than a hundred years. Icons like Hubertine Auclert in France, Emmeline Pankhurst in the UK, Clotilde Apponyi in Germany and other European suffragists led the charge for women’s rights, and their efforts included setting aside a day to recognize the contributions of women to society.
Here at SafeBreach, the principles embodied by Women’s Day have been a part of our culture since the company’s start. As VP of HR, my role at SafeBreach is to focus on people—making sure we make smart decisions in building a strong team and ensuring that the strong culture of diversity that began when Guy and Itzik started the company continues to flourish.
Diversity in the workplace brings many benefits. There is an increased level of communication, innovation and productivity when people with different skillsets come together. Gender diversity makes for a better place to work, and it also makes good business sense. According to an MIT study, a gender-diverse team can have a positive impact to the bottom line, potentially increasing revenue by more than 40%. This is why it was important for us to begin our efforts from day one, and not wait to play catch up after being in business for several years. We knew it would be a challenge for us in cybersecurity where there are industry-wide challenges to filling out a roster with a diverse and balanced workforce.
What did we focus on for diversity at SafeBreach?
Pipeline and awareness
As mentioned, there was a clear awareness from the beginning that we wanted to be a gender diverse company. It is part of the DNA of the founders and who we are. As a result, with every open role we had, we worked hard to fill the pipeline with capable individuals of all types who have experience in cybersecurity.
This is not an easy task, but it is rewarding to see the results of our efforts.
Women comprise one-third of SafeBreach’s executive board. Our VP/GM for Israel (and our VP of R&D) Yael Ben Arie is a computer science graduate, who started her career as a developer, team Leader in the NLP and Algorithms domains, lead various products and then entered the cybersecurity world when she joined Trusteer (which was acquired by IBM). Nearly a quarter (23%) of all SafeBreach employees are women, and 20% of our technical staff are women. That compares to a rate of 11% for the entire cybersecurity industry, according to a 2017 study by Frost & Sullivan and is closer to the 26% rate of representation of women in IT overall.
We ensure our family-friendly policies like flexible working hours help our employees balance work and family responsibilities. Our employees know that as long as they deliver results, they have the flexibility to take a few hours off for a school play, to take care of an ailing parent or to work from home when their child is sick. We also work on incorporating family into our events — some of our most successful events are our “kids at work” days.
One culture, one team
We also work on ensuring that, in spite of having employees located in both the U.S. and Israel, as well as with a number of remote sales employees, that everyone feels like we are one company and one team. This does not mean we implement the same cookie cutter policies in all our locations, but we work hard to ensure that we celebrate our diverse cultures. We also make sure that everyone feels they are equally engaged in meetings, activities and celebrations, using a variety of collaborative tools to aid in communication.
Tomorrow, SafeBreach will observe International Women’s Day, as it always has, not only by celebrating women’s achievements but by advocating for an inclusive and diverse culture where we respect and value differences in all individuals. We are in a strong position on gender diversity for a cybersecurity company, and I know we are just getting started.