Karen Bolton

Doug Woodburn
clock • 3 min read
Karen Bolton

Role: CEO, Nettitude

What does Nettitude specialise in?

Intelligence-led cybersecurity services relying on the latest innovation and research.

Through our research and innovation, we provide threat-led services that span technical assurance, consulting, and managed detection and response offerings. We can help organisations whether they are looking to prepare for, prevent or respond to cyber threats.

We are proud to be one of a handful of companies worldwide that are certified by CREST across all their key disciplines. Our team of consultants have achieved the highest accreditations for penetration testing, red teaming, incident response services, and threat intelligence. In parallel, we were the first organisation to be accredited for security operation centre (SOC) services by CREST.

How would you summarise your leadership style?

A combination of democratic and transformational as I always seek to be a role model for others at the same time as stimulating innovation and creativity in individuals.

Does the industry have a diversity problem and, if so, why does this matter?

Yes, there is a problem with diversity, and it matters because we are best challenged, and produce our best results, when we operate in environments of different views and perspectives. If we are surrounded by people who think the same as we do, then where will innovation and creative thinking come from?

Within the cybersecurity industry, I think this is an even greater challenge. The images that are conjured up when we think of cybersecurity is people, usually men, sitting alone wearing a hoodie and hacking into some system or another. If we are to tackle the gender and diversity deficit, then we must change the image of the opportunities we represent as an industry. Everything from our branding, how we market to a prospective workforce, hiring practices and career advancement.

For recruiting, look at the small things, the language and imagery in job adverts, for example should appeal to a wide audience. Challenge stereotypes of feudal language of cybersecurity or hackers in hoodies.

Do you feel the outlook for women in the industry has changed at all in the last four years?

Slightly as in many ways, diversity in the cybersecurity industry is relatively good even if there remains further to go. Over a third (36 per cent) of respondents in the NCSC's Decrypting Diversity survey were female, this highlights a good trend. As the CEO of a cybersecurity organisation, I am part of a diverse organisation that employs an above average, for our industry, number of women and I am extremely passionate that we continue to do so.

The industry has made positive strides but there are not enough women in STEM. In the last two years, owing to the COVID-19 pandemic, a lot should have changed as flexible working environments present an opportunity for a more diverse population to be able to enter and be successful in the workforce.

Name one thing companies in our sector should do differently to ensure they are attracting, retaining, and promoting more female staff?

For recruiting, look at the small things, the language and imagery in job adverts, for example should appeal to a wide audience. Challenge stereotypes of feudal language of cybersecurity or hackers in hoodies.

For retaining, listen. Do all you can to create a workplace of expressive freedom that lives its values of career progression and inclusivity for all.

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