Ask Chloé: Cyber and Pronouns

Welcome to the Ask Chloé column on Security Boulevard! Each week, Chloé provides advice to readers’ questions to help guide them as they navigate the technology industry. This week, Chloé answers questions about the use of the term ‘cyber’ and how to best start implementing diversity, equity and inclusion best practices.

 

Dear Chloé,

I was having a conversation with a few colleagues on the marketing team about using the term “cyber.” What is your opinion on using the term “cyber” in our industry?

Thank you! 

-Newbie in Marketing

 

Dear Newbie in Marketing,

Thanks for reaching out on this particular question. I tend to stay away from the term “cyber.” I always recommend using “infosec” or “cybersecurity” depending on the context or content. Unfortunately, in our industry, there are marketing teams that use the term “cyber” without knowing that there are other meanings behind the term (hint: urban dictionary), and, marketing teams don’t know that there is a difference between information security and cybersecurity. Sometimes they just use “cyber” or “cybersecurity” when in reality, they meant “infosec” or “information security.” 

For a quick clarification: 

Information security is a large umbrella term that focuses on protecting information from unauthorized access. Broadly, it’s the practice of securing data, no matter where it is stored. 

Cybersecurity is a subset of information security. Its focus is on protecting information stored digitally on systems and networks from unauthorized access.

Hope that answers your question! 

 

Dear Chloé,

I’m an executive at a startup, and want to show my support to the LGBTQ+ community. I was thinking about enforcing a rule that every employee must state their pronouns on Zoom and in their email signature. I’m hoping it will allow more comfort for those who are nonbinary in the office. Curious to know your thoughts. 

– Exec Supporting LGBTQ+

 

Dear Exec Supporting LGBTQ+,

First, I’m glad to see that you are trying to promote diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) at your company. I applaud you for trying to think of solutions that may help all your employees. I understand wanting to have every employee share their pronouns publicly to acknowledge the importance of gender identity and encourage respect; however, the idea needs a bit more thought. 

The reality is when companies enforce something like this publicly, especially something as personal and individual as gender identity, it could backfire. There are some who are uncomfortable sharing their pronouns publicly; perhaps they are not ‘out’ to their families, or they are still trying to figure out which pronouns represent them the best. And discrimination is also at play – I witnessed this firsthand when a hiring manager discovered an employee was nonbinary; the hiring manager was hesitant to keep the person on the team. The hiring manager was not well-versed on the subject and was afraid of getting sued by making a pronoun mistake. 

I recommend working with HR and the rest of your executive team (and, perhaps, an external party) on learning more about gender identities and how to provide a more inclusive place for employees. Stating one’s pronouns shouldn’t be enforced or mandated; no one should feel pressured to state their pronouns or their gender identity in the workplace. Cultural change should be organic.

One of the best ways you can set the example is by sharing your own pronouns publicly; but once again, no way should anyone feel pressured to do the same. Normalization happens when people try their best to improve themselves and set that example for others, whether in their personal or professional lives, or both. When we truly care about others, we turn to education and events to learn how to have greater empathy and openness. I truly believe when organizations focus on improving leadership and working toward DEI best practices, employees feel more comfortable being their authentic self. They feel supported and encouraged to soar! As an executive, you have the ability to set an example, and that can really make a difference in the organization. 

Just remember, when we walk in discomfort with comfort, avoid the single narrative and rumble with vulnerability, that’s when we get closer to practicing DEI in the workplace. 

Learn more about the award-winning tech changemaker, Chloé Messdaghi, at https://www.chloemessdaghi.com

Have a question? Want advice? Submit your anonymous question to Chloé: [email protected].

 

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