12.9 C
Wednesday, May 31, 2023
HomeCanadaMore women on CAs: the solution for better cybersecurity?

More women on CAs: the solution for better cybersecurity?


Women are still underrepresented in the field of information technology (IT), despite their significant contribution. There’s Lovelacefor example, was the world’s first female computer programmer. Grace Murray Hopper developed the first compiler. Moreover, Hedy Lamarr was the co-inventor of the modern communication technologyused for Bluetooth, wifi and GPS technologies.

Today’s IT leaders are all men. Although 39% of the board members of Silicon Valley’s largest tech companies are women, all presidents and CEOs are men: Arthur D. Levinson And Tim Cook for Apple, Satya Nadella for Microsoft, Jeff Bezos And Andrew Jassy for Amazon, mark zuckerberg for Meta, and John L. Hennessy And Sundar Pichai for Google.

Watercolor portrait of Ada King, Countess of Lovelace, circa 1840.
(Science Museum Group)

But we are still seeing some progress. A study by Osler, a business law firm, found that 23% of board members of S&P/TSX 60 index companies were women. This is an increase from the data we collected for our research on Toronto Stock Exchange companies between 2014 and 2018. Indeed, this data revealed that 11.7% of companies had a woman on their board of directors, 27.7% had two women and 56.3% had at least three women.

When it comes to the number of female IT experts on boards, the number was even lower. Only 22 of the 683 board members in 2018 were female IT experts. Although this number has doubled since 2014, it remains very low. It is important to increase the number of women in the IT field, not only for reasons of equality, but also because the presence of women improves the main organizational results.

Cybersecurity is the key to success

We evaluated the impact of gender diversity on corporate boards on companies’ response to cyber risk. Our results show the management of the latter is better when women are present. Good cyber risk management is key to the success of businesses that use IT.

Cybersecurity involves taking appropriate measures as well as making ethical decisions to mitigate cyber risks. More specifically, cybersecurity addresses the financial and technical risk caused by digital acceleration – the amplification of the digital transformation caused by the pandemic.

Due to digital acceleration, organizations are more vulnerable to unethical uses of technology. The story of Facebook and Google regarding improper and unethical uses or removal of information highlighted the importance of an ethical approach to cybersecurity. The most publicized example is that of Facebook, which sold data to companies trying to influence the US presidential election in 2016.

Organizations should develop their cybersecurity strategy based on certain ethical principles. We are talking here about privacy, the collection, storage and use of data, artificial intelligence, the development of algorithms and profiling, in particular.

Cybersecurity must go through the the administration’s advice. The latter represent the interests of the stakeholders, monitor the management of the company and reduce conflicts of interest between the shareholders, who own the companies listed on the stock exchange, and the management of the company. They also have a duty to ensure that their businesses adopt appropriate and effective cybersecurity measures.

Women have a positive impact on cybersecurity

Our study found a positive association between the level of cybersecurity disclosure and gender diversity on the board. In other words, having women on boards has resulted in better cyber risk management. To what extent? Through improved board oversight, better management oversight and therefore better corporate governance.

Women brought new perspectives to the decision-making process and added a greater variety of skills and abilities, which improved council decision-making.

A woman sitting at the head of a board meeting
the presence of women IT experts on the boards of directors has improved the management of cyber risks.

Women are more informative. That is, they tend to value communication and disclosures more than men, and they collaborate better with stakeholders. Women have a lower risk tolerancepromote ethical practices and are less engaged in fraudulent practices.

These specific skills, combined with their IT expertise, enable women to improve cybersecurity risk oversight of their businesses. In sum, having more female IT experts on corporate boards could result in a more integrative approach to cybersecurity that brings together technology, business, and ethical perspectives.

Suggestions to improve the representation of women in IT

In order to close the gender gap in IT, there must be a concerted effort to provide girls and women with computer-related education and skills. Companies should develop programs to promote the presence of women with computer skills and fund scholarship and grant programs for women.

Women should be encouraged to choose computer-related studies and careers. At the earliest stage, schools should motivate children’s curiosity and interest in technology. While there are universities that offer graduate programs, degrees, and certificates in cybersecurity, more should be created. NGOs can also be part of the solution, supporting the cause of female computer experts.

Another way to close the gender gap is to further promote the presence of women in leadership positions. Starting in 2020, the Canada Business Corporations Act obliges public companies to provide information on policies and practices related to diversity within boards of directors and senior management. More young women should be promoted to IT leadership positions to fuel the pool of potential board candidates.

Updating the skills of current board members is also essential. Ethics and cybersecurity should be a training priority for all board members. For this purpose, the updated ethics and cybersecurity skills for all board members is an important step towards improving the skills of women on boards.

The author of what'snew2day.com is dedicated to keeping you up-to-date on the latest news and information.

Latest stories