I recently had the honor to sit down with Jane Frankland and discuss her project, The Source. Our conversation traveled many paths, from cybersecurity all the way to poetry. Here’s what we discussed. (The interview has been edited for clarity and brevity.)
What is The Source?
Tassos Arampatzis: You have recently launched The Source for women in cybersecurity and businesses who value them. What is the purpose of The Source?
Jane Frankland: Its purpose is to help women and businesses that value women evolve. The reason I called it The Source is because it means the place you go to first, or someone or something that supples information, or that connects things. And that’s what we’re doing. We’re a container for women that’s built on limitless potential. The Source is a platform and playbook for women in cyber, where they can go to get tools that will empower them and enable them to really build their strength. Women are natural change agents and guardians, and they can achieve anything that they want but many need to learn how to work differently. The rules of business are different for women than they are for men. This means women need to work smarter not harder plus say no more, push back more and not tolerate things that aren’t acceptable, more. That way women will thrive.
Women are fed up having to work twice as hard as any man and this risks them burning out and leaving cybersecurity. It’s not that men are wrong. The system is what’s wrong. And the system is what needs to change and that’s why The Source has been created. By helping women and businesses in cyber to evolve, I believe the world will become safer, happier, and more prosperous,
The Source enables women to access tools and get inspired by other women to do things that maybe they don’t think or believe they can do. It’s there to provide mentoring and resources so they can find things quickly and conveniently. We connect women to other women and help them build their networks. There are loads of communities available for them, depending on what they want, too. It’s unlike anything out there.
And then of course from the business side of things, we hear that organizations want more women because they understand the benefits, but they struggle to find them. So, The Source is enabling those companies to create a new natural flow of female talent based on trust and relationships.
One of the things that make The Source unique is that it is a platform. So I’m collaborating with other groups – women’s groups and trainers as well. After all, it’s the source and The Source is where you go to find what you need.
A journey or a destination?
Tassos: Kavafis, a famous Greek poet, wrote in his poem “Ithaka” that it is not the destination that matters, but the journey. Is The Source the journey or the destination?
Jane: Well, that’s a very good question. Here’s what I say on that: the journey is the destination. Every step to heaven is heaven. Although many people are goal-oriented, it is learning to be different that matters. Being more at peace with oneself and enjoying every single step you make, even if those are tiny steps because the tiny steps lead to quantum leaps.
It’s about learning different ways of being like leaning back rather than chasing and always being on the back foot. Those things make you more tired and take up more time and energy. Let’s just change that. Because when we do that, our industry is going to be so much healthier. And if we can build that into leadership, then we’re going to be more creative, more innovative.
You can be anything that you want to be and that’s the message I believe women need to hear more. The world is everyone’s oyster. We live in favorable times. Just because you don’t see a woman doing something doesn’t mean she can’t do it. Women don’t need to see it to be it, although it’s great when we see more visible female role models. Women have a voice, too so please stop telling women they don’t have one. Women may need to know how to amplify their voice or get their message out there. Let’s teach leaders how to make safer environments that benefit all people because psychological safety works for every single person.
The moment of clarity
Tassos: What was that moment of truth that made you decide to launch The Source?
Jane: I was thinking about doing a membership after I wrote IN Security, but I wasn’t sure if I wanted to open it up to everyone or if I wanted it to be just for women. I waited until I got clear, and, funnily enough, I got clear when I was in Crete.
I took six days off on holiday with my kids and had a brilliant time, reading, swimming in the ocean, and looking at strategies. Then, when I looked at the data – when women have these networks of women, they do better, I got clear. When I got back from that holiday, various serendipitous things happened, and everything just came together literally overnight.
I feel I’ve answered a calling, an invitation. It’s in my heart to do this work and I have to trust my instincts.
Gender diversity can reduce business risks
Tassos: Diversity, equity, and inclusion are top agenda items for many organizations. What are the risks of businesses not investing and promoting women at all levels of their hierarchy?
Jane: If organizations don’t have women, particularly in leadership positions, they are not going to be as profitable and innovative. If you don’t have a mixture of people (diversity) then you’re losing the opportunity of a 35% uplift in terms of performance. We know that decision-making improves up to 73% when you have more women in your team and that improves even more when you have both cultural and gender diversity.
Women see risk in a different way than men, and there are many studies to back that up. The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has been promoting research by Cass Business School which looked at risk management and the reduction of risk. What they found was that gender diversity had the most significant impact, rather than just diversity. In financial terms, it was saving up to $7.48 million per year.
Exclusion is not nice
We are here to reduce cybersecurity risk and if women can enable that why wouldn’t you want women? You’re less safe without them. You’ve got to have women – women in tech, women in engineering, women in security, etc. so let’s enable this and eliminate discrimination. It’s not nice to be excluded based on your age, your gender, your ethnicity, your religion, your sexual orientation, and your socioeconomic position. Anyone who’s been excluded knows how that feels. It’s horrible. So, let’s make sure that doesn’t happen because then the world will benefit.
I think it’s really important to speak about the security risks because there are other reasons for getting more women into cyber, other than because it’s the “right” thing to do.
We are not measuring change
Tassos: In 2017, you published your book IN Security, which was a huge success. What has changed since then?
Jane: Not much has changed, and this is also part of the reason for me creating The Source. I want to measure the change and at the moment, we’re not measuring it particularly well. I want to see hardcore evidence, and data to show what has changed. Research shows that we’ve got more women in the industry. But we are changing the way we are researching the numbers. When I was writing my book, we had 11% of women in cybersecurity, globally. Now they’re saying that we got 25% because they are counting in a different way. So, have we improved or not? I don’t know because the way they’re measuring isn’t consistent.
But what I do see more, is women making themselves visible. I see many more women out there who are speaking up, and who are leading in a visible way.
Women role models
Tassos: Do you have any women role models in cybersecurity, women that we should know and follow?
Jane: There are so many great women that inspire me, like Fareedah Shaheed. She’s amazing and she always inspires me.
Lauren Goodwin, I absolutely adore Lauren. She’s working for JP Morgan Health. So inspiring.
And also, Jessica Barker. Jess is a real good friend. Jess’s absolutely wonderful. She’s got a heart of gold. She’s so inspiring to so many people. And she comes from a really interesting background, sociology.
Get the basics right
Tassos: The cybersecurity landscape changes, not only because of geopolitical reasons, but it changes because the technology changes. Incidents in the cyber domain now affect our physical world. What should be the priorities for all businesses to become more resilient and effective in addressing those threats?
Jane: It’s about getting the basics right. When it comes to small businesses, it’s really hard to get a full support package from one provider. Most economies are run because of small businesses, so it’s important we get those foundations right. All businesses can do much better if they get the basics right. It comes down to cyber hygiene and understanding what your assets are. How resilient are you? What about training your staff?
I want to see more comprehensive support in terms of cyber, in terms of protection, and in terms of resilience for all businesses. Small businesses are not provided with this kind of support. They are the easy targets.
When I was a child, we used to have these adverts about road safety – get in a car and put your seatbelt on. I would just like to see more advertising on building cyber awareness so that we can all be safer. I think that would be useful – getting them across Spotify, Netflix, or YouTube, as well as TV, but I think the other mediums are more effective because more people are tuning into those more.
I’d like also to see more standardization and less bad security design. It plays straight into the hands of cybercriminals. When people are irritated by badly designed security solutions, like some multifactor authentication tools, then they won’t use them and they become less safe.
Meet Jane behind Frankland
Tassos: What is your favorite novel, or a novel that you are reading now, and you are enjoying?
Jane: It’s called “Julia and the Shark” by Kiran Millwood Hargrave. It is so beautiful. My daughter bought me this for Christmas. I love the words and the design. It’s so beautifully illustrated.
Tassos: What is your favorite kind of music?
Jane: I don’t have one. I just have lots of different types of music. It depends on my mood.
Tassos: What is your favorite food?
Jane: For me, choosing to eat a certain way would be Mediterranean food.
Tassos: Your favorite place for vacations?
Jane: Greece, obviously. I’m not just saying that because you’re from Greece. I could live in Greece, most probably in Crete.
Tassos: If you weren’t in cybersecurity, what would you like to do?
Jane: I think architect or photographer. I love both.
Thank you so much, Jane.
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