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Hacking the Workforce: Creating Opportunities and Representation in Cybersecurity

Hacking the Workforce is on a mission to create a safer world where Black LGBTQ+ people have equal opportunities and representation in cybersecurity.

It confuses me when individuals and organizations express outward support and solidarity for one aspect of my identity while overlooking other parts. I am a black, trans man, with over 15 years of experience working in cybersecurity, one of the most white, cis, male-dominated industries in the US. When there is a lack of diversity in technology, particularly in cybersecurity, it leaves us all more susceptible to cybercrime. Despite comprising nearly 14% of the US population, African-Americans make up only 3% of the tech industry’s workforce. African-Americans of the LGBTQ community experience disproportionately high rates of workplace discrimination, and are more often to make less than their white counterparts. These injustices are amplified by the technology industry’s scarcity of opportunities and possibilities, notably in cybersecurity for this demographic.

Cybersecurity is an industry with a shortage of over 500,000 practitioners in the US alone, yet the visibility of intersectional black communities — who are historically underserved, is severely lacking. I like to think of myself as a lifelong student who wants to continuously learn from others as well as impart my knowledge and expertise to as many people as possible. In recent years, I’ve had the opportunity to mentor people like me who have intersectional identities. It has been an extremely rewarding and fulfilling experience.

My hope is that the cybersecurity community will recognize that diversity is critical to not only information security but also to positively impacting the lives of future generations. I’ve been fortunate to meet wonderful mentors and allies throughout my career; however, I’m curious about how my career might have unfolded differently had I met mentors who shared any of my more visible identities. Nonetheless, I am cognizant of my privilege and appreciative of the opportunities afforded to me by this field of work. Supporting others in achieving their full professional potential has had a profound effect on me.

Society is witnessing the effects of the social inequalities and systemic oppression that marginalized people confront personified in advanced technology intrinsically linked to the disproportion criminalization of Black and Brown people. I feel compelled and energized to empower other members of intersectional marginalized communities to secure financial freedom and self-sustaining employment as a mechanism to combat systemic disenfranchisement and obtain generational wealth. Driven by my strong desire to help my community, I founded Hacking the Workforce. The website that Digital Corp built was the first step in amplifying my mission to engage a population of people who are often overlooked. 

To achieve our vision, the program provides cybersecurity career advising, preventative mental health services, and a therapeutic approach to building healthy relationships with finances. Unlike other mentorship programs, Hacking the Workforce is committed to enhancing the overall health, welfare, and growth of every member of our organization. We spend approximately one-third of our lives at work, demonstrating the critical role that job satisfaction plays in our overall well-being and pleasure. Our mission – create a safer world where Black LGBTQ+ people have equal opportunities and representation in the field of cybersecurity.

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Safi Mojidi (he/him): I am an African-American trans-male, who has been in the cybersecurity field for over 14 years. For some time now, I have been shocked and saddened by insufficient diversity and representation for other black LGBTQ+ persons in this space. For the last several years, I’ve been mentoring other individuals with intersectional identities, and I’ve found it gratifying and meaningful. The need to raise the numbers of black LGBTQ individuals in the security field has never been so great. Driven by both a personal and professional mission to increase diversity in cyber, I founded Hacking the Workforce.

Hacking the Workforce is a nonprofit organization committed to accelerating social and professional development, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, and full employment for queer black people. Our mission is to create a safer world where Black LGBTQ+ people have equal opportunities and representation in cybersecurity. We are committed to enhancing the lives and careers of every member of our organization.

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