Although minority representation in cybersecurity is higher than the overall U.S. workforce (26 percent vs. 21 percent), these professionals are disproportionately in non-management roles, according to a new (ISC)2 report: Innovation Through Inclusion: The Multicultural Cybersecurity Workforce. There’s also a pay discrepancy, which significantly affects women of color in cybersecurity careers.

According to (ISC)2 CEO David Shearer, CISSP: “In order to build strong, adequately staffed cybersecurity teams, employers – and the cybersecurity profession as a whole – must make cybersecurity a rewarding and welcoming career for everyone. Understanding the challenges our profession faces related to diversity is a critical first step to accomplishing that goal and ultimately addressing the widening cybersecurity workforce gap.”

Other findings from the report, which is based on survey responses from 9,500 U.S. cybersecurity professionals, include:

  • 23 percent of minority cybersecurity professionals hold a role of director or above compared to 30 percent of their Caucasian peers.
  • 62 percent of minorities in cybersecurity have obtained a master’s degree or higher, compared to 50 percent of professionals who identified as White or Caucasian.
  • On average, a cybersecurity professional of color earns $115,000, while the overall U.S. cybersecurity workforce average is $122,000.
    • Men of color are slightly behind their Caucasian male peers by $3,000 USD, while women of color make an average of $10,000 less than Caucasian males and $6,000 less than Caucasian females.
    • In addition to a higher average salary, Caucasian workers were more likely to have received a salary increase within the past year, as compared to other races and ethnicities.
  • 32 percent of cybersecurity professionals of color report that they have experienced some form of discrimination in the workplace.
  • In the U.S., 17 percent of the cybersecurity workforce who identify as a minority are female, proportionally exceeding overall female representation (14 percent) by a margin of 3 percent.
  • To foster diversity in the workplace, 49 percent of minority cybersecurity professionals said mentorship programs are very important.