Five Ways to Inspire Inclusion Through Allyship

On International Women’s Day, we celebrate the diverse talents, skills, and perspectives that women bring to our workplace and our world. This year’s theme is #InspireInclusion – a fitting call to action for women and allies to continue on this journey as we work to enjoy the same rights, opportunities and impact as our male counterparts.

Allyship is defined as the actions, behaviors, and practices that leaders take to support, amplify, and advocate with others, most especially with individuals who don’t belong to the same social identities as themselves. Men are a key part of our strong ally base at SentinelOne, fortified by an amazing group of female leaders who have ascended on their career trajectory in cybersecurity and have committed to taking other women with them on the journey.

Today we want to share five ways to #InspireInclusion through allyship at your organization to enable women to have the same access to successful, fulfilling careers in tech and have game-changing impact on their workplaces and communities.

Change Starts At the Top

According to the Women In Cybersecurity Report, women held 25% of cybersecurity jobs globally in 2022, up from 20% in 2019 and 10% in 2013. When we look at women in leadership, the gap is even wider. According to Women in Tech Network, only 5% of leadership positions in the tech sector are held by women.

At SentinelOne, we prioritize bridging the gender gap at the leadership level knowing it propels our efforts as we continue to diversify at all levels of the organization. Today, over 30% of all VPs at SentinelOne and 39% of the C-Suite leaders are women. Last year, 47% of our newly hired VP+ leaders and 32% of our internal VP+ promotions were also women. Driving massive change like this takes an intentional strategy and the collective efforts of committed allies who believe that equity in the workplace drives better business results.

1 – Commit to Purposeful Talent Acquisition & Development

You can’t wish for 50% of female candidates to walk through your door – you have to work for it! It starts with a diverse candidate slate, which can be extremely challenging in tech and specifically cybersecurity. Our goal is to have the top of the candidate pipeline consist 50-75% of women to increase the likelihood of having at least two female finalists. Critically adjacent to this strategy is having one woman on the interview panel.

Sourcing women early in career is a great strategy to find female talent. Having an internship program funneled by a university recruiting effort is very effective at SentinelOne. Partnering with collegiate chapters of Women in CyberSecurity (WiCyS) to engage candidates across the globe only strengthens this part of our pipeline.

We know that if we don’t work to develop our people and enable them with career opportunities, our competitors will. Losing women to the next opportunity will negate your efforts to bridge the gender gap, so keep them engaged and learning while making space for them to grow within your organization. Robust learning and development opportunities are critical for all, and maybe even more so for women as we try to make progress. A well-laid out career pathing program with defined experiences and skill sets for each level will let women know what needs to be added to their knowledge base to prepare for their next opportunity.

2 – Understand That Mentorship Matters

It’s a zero-cost, high-return strategy to drive gender parity. A win-win on both sides of the equation, both parties can learn and grow through high-quality mentor-mentee relationships. Mentorship is critical in shaping careers, giving women a safe place to ask questions and gain insights that can build confidence and guide them through career challenges.

I encourage you to seek the power of difference in the women you mentor. We often gravitate to the people most like us, but considering a mentee of a different gender, function, level or even organization can contribute to the richness of the relationship. Embracing a growth mindset and being conscious of your bias can be extremely beneficial for both sides of the relationship.

If your organization does not have a formal mentorship program, consider advocating for one. At SentinelOne, we launched MentorOne last year with tremendous success and already established 200+ mentor relationships. If that’s not a feasible option, I urge you to recruit a woman to mentor. A thoughtful quarterly conversation is an investment that could pay dividends for years to come.

3 – Champion & Sponsor Women At All Levels

Making this effort a daily behavior can drive substantial change in your workplace culture. Amplifying the women you know doing great work by giving them credit for their ideas and accomplishments can go a long way in boosting confidence and helping strong performers shape their brand. So often we are onto the next task without recognizing how we accomplished the last one, so celebrate! Reach out to the leaders of high-performing women and share authentic accolades to recognize their impact.

Getting involved with the Employee Resource Groups at your organization is a great way to show your allyship. Our Women’s Inclusion Network at SentinelOne is an army that is 160+ strong, full of women and allies who start conversations that both move the business forward and create a safe space for learning, making space for all voices.

Inviting more women into conversations serves two purposes – instilling confidence and sourcing ideas and solutions to drive your business forward! Asking them to share opinions and ideas is an easy way to build the muscle of confidence. Also be careful not to interrupt someone sharing an idea, even if it’s just to reinforce their point.

If you are new to the sponsorship game, get creative! It can be as simple as attending an event sponsored by an employee resource group and asking a thoughtful question or offering support in the live chat. Just seeing your face in a room or on Zoom can let your female colleagues know that you are an ally. Volunteering is another way to become a champion, sharing your career insights and skill sets to inspire the next generation of tech and cybersecurity professionals.

4 – Embrace the Tough Conversations

Tough conversations are often great catalysts for change. It’s important to speak up – if you hear something, say something. Allowing microaggressions in the workplace only reinforces the age-old problem of imposter syndrome, something 75% of all working women have experienced at some point in their career.

Women often face a double standard at work in regards to their behavior. Historically in the workplace, women with confidence and strength were described as pushy and aggressive. If you hear a woman being described in that way, ask yourself, would the same words be used to describe her male counterpart showing the same behavior? If the answer is ‘no’, challenge that in the moment. Be part of the action that helps to build up the brand of a strong woman while taking down the cycle of this double standard.

Give women in your network the gift of direct, in the moment feedback. Women are often juggling so much, multi-tasking the full-time responsibility of family and career. Communicating with honesty, patience and kindness makes even difficult feedback a teachable moment that can change the trajectory of a woman’s career. Be sure to ask probing questions, listening carefully to understand before jumping into working through a solution.

5 – Inspire Inclusion All Year Long 

March is just a moment for celebration. Action planning and execution needs to be top of mind 12 months of the year if we are going to close the gender gap in the workplace.

I challenge all non-birthing parents to start at home by sharing household responsibilities, freeing up time and energy for your partner to also focus on career growth. If your company offers a gender-neutral parental leave, take it to establish your role as a caregiver. Hearing from Sentinel parents who cherished our 16-week benefit is a huge source of pride, knowing the ripple effect it will have on their child’s lifetime.

Just recently, a father returning from parental leave sent me the following thank you note:

“Having this uninterrupted time with my children has strengthened our bond and created cherished memories that will last a lifetime. It has allowed me to return to work feeling refreshed, energized, and even more committed to my role at the company. I witnessed how my wife experienced her postpartum period in a totally different, much more pleasant and relaxing way. I also gained a deeper appreciation for the sacrifices and dedication my wife makes each day to care for our family.”

Happy International Women’s Day from SentinelOne!

Take action, in small ways and big ways, and we will continue to drive progress. Start by joining your organization’s Women’s Inclusion Network and contributing to the conversation. Continually ask how you can help, and seek out an important role in gender parity efforts. Making a commitment to #InspireInclusion is not just something we are doing to improve the workplace – it’s a call to action to improve the world!

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