Maintaining Diversity in Media Companies

Diversity is an important topic for us as recruiters. We regularly talk to guests of The Content & Media Matters Podcast about diversity in the industry, but in this episode we got more in depth with our special guest, Laura Blaisdell. Laura is the Director of Talent Acquisition and champion of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at Avid. For the last five years she’s been helping them secure top global talent and deliver on their commitment to diversity and inclusion. 

Alongside being a Director of Talent Acquisition, you’ve got diversity, equity and inclusion in your job title. What’s the motivation behind that?

Companies know that diversity matters, but most of them don’t understand what it means. It’s more than having something at the bottom of your job posting that says ‘we’re an equal opportunity employer’. At Avid, we really wanted to show that we’re a place that not only celebrates diversity, equity and inclusion, but is also focused on driving innovation and a high performance culture alongside that sense of belonging. 

We know that more diverse companies perform better; that’s the business case. Years ago, that’s what we had to sell to get programme funding, but now leaders and business partners understand that you have to mirror your customer base, and the media and entertainment industry is incredibly diverse. It’s a combination of wanting to make sure that we’re finding the most diverse talent with sourcing the best skills, experiences and perspectives that we can. It’s not just about how somebody identifies themselves, it’s diversity of thought. The best way to bring the top talent in is to create an environment of belonging. We’re putting our money where our mouth is. I’m leading that function because it’s tied to the talent attraction function. It’s given me the opportunity to partner with our leaders to infuse that sense of belonging and equity into everything we do, from our hiring process to our employee incentives, mentoring and succession programmes.

What changes have you seen in recent years for topics like diversity and inclusion? 

I see common themes surrounding branding, inclusivity and hiring processes being talked about in relation to diversity. There are very specific things that each organisation has to focus on depending on their niche as well. We’ve prioritised what we call our education forums, where we invite all employees to talk about things, and we schedule them in all of the different time zones to make people feel included. We’re focused on things like how we benchmark and identify what our goals and hiring stats are. This year, we’re really excited that we’ve kicked off a women in technology mentoring programme. Not only do we have women engineers in the company, but we’re enabling allies like male engineers to share their knowledge with a younger female in engineering or somebody like myself, who’s not an engineer, but I am a woman working in technology. That’s the kind of active and intentional change that we’re starting to see in companies now. 

What would you change about how the industry attracts and keeps diverse talent?

It really has to be a top down commitment. When I accepted my position we had a 100% male executive team. I agreed that I would come on board full time, as long as I could put in place programmes and policies that supported D&I efforts. By the end of the first year that I was in my role, which was 2018, we hired a female CMO and a female CHRO. We went from 0% to 40% females on the executive leadership team. That showed that it can be done – we don’t have to hire the first person that meets the requirements, we should be actively looking for diverse candidates to fill the roles. I told our leaders, we are not going to make a hiring decision until you have seen an inclusive slate of candidates. That’s my responsibility, while theirs is to choose the best candidate. 

It’s not enough to have an inclusive slate of candidates, you have to have an inclusive panel of interviewers as well. That’s steering the committee I’ve built for D&I. I’ve gathered about 15 people who are all committed to being part of the interview process, whether or not it’s their function, because they can provide diverse perspectives. If you’re a female interviewing with an all male team, then we’ll bring a female in from the DNI steering committee to talk about their experience with the company. Candidates have responded really well to that, and that’s what I want to see more of. 

To learn more about improving diversity in the industry, tune into The Content & Media Matters Podcast here

We sit down regularly with some of the biggest names in our industry, we dedicate our podcast to the stories of leaders in the technologies industries that bring us closer together. Follow the link here to see some of our latest episodes and don’t forget to subscribe.     

The Future of Asset Management

Asset management is a growing area in the Cyber Security industry. On Episode 12 of The Cyber Security Matters Podcast we were joined by Huxley Barbee, a CISSP and CISM. He is currently a Security Evangelist at runZero, which is the latest role in a glowing career in the cyber security industry. We spoke to Huxley about the advancements he’s seeing in the asset management sector, including his predictions for the future.

How do you see Asset Management evolution over the next few years?

There have been a number of technological trends that have caused a divergence of environments. For example, smart speakers like your Alexa are changing our home environments, because this tech used to be simple, non-connected devices. Now they’re connected to the internet, which exposes you to a higher risk. There’s also been a rise of ‘bring your own device’ culture, where people bring their own phones and tablets to the corporate network. There’s also the move to cloud associated with the DevOps revolution. 

A lot of companies will see the cloud as a way of transforming their capabilities to both lower costs and increase speed and agility. Folks are empowered to just spin up new computing devices left and right, but the old devices are not actually decommissioned, so you have a sprawl of this attack surface out in the cloud as well. There are also more and more mergers and acquisitions happening, where a purchasing company has to take on the risks and vulnerabilities in the target company. All these different trends have led to this divergence of environments where companies are not just protecting their corporate IT assets, but also their OT, the factory, their IoT devices, your personal devices, the cloud and whatever else goes on in remote employees homes. 

Because of a need to find talent, organisations have started looking at a wider geographic spectrum, and a rise in this ‘work from home’ culture became compounded by the pandemic. That is now also part of what cyber security needs to protect. Over the last 20 years, this evolution of assets has resulted in a decentralisation of control. Meanwhile, it’s the same security team that’s being expected to protect all that. There are numerous statistics out there about how the number of devices connected to the internet is going to continue to go up. Security teams will be more and more challenged, which is a fundamental problem. If you don’t have this foundational capability of knowing what you have, you are absolutely not protected. We’re going to have to see some change in order to address this growing challenge. 

How can the industry address those issues? 

There are a number of different approaches that have been tried over the last 20 years. There’s the use of agents and authenticated active scans, but they don’t solve the problem of unmanaged devices. If you can put software on a machine, then it probably needs managing. There are other vendors who try and pull data from multiple other sources to try and cobble together some sort of asset inventory. The trouble is, if they’re pulling from limited data sources, they’re not really solving the problem of unmanaged devices either. There’s also a passive network monitor, which theoretically can learn about more devices on the network, but its ability to identify those assets correctly is limited, because it’s only looking at network traffic to make that determination. There’s another approach, which is using an unauthenticated scanner with a security research-based approach for fingerprinting alongside API integrations. We found that this is the winning combination to help you get both breadth and depth of your assets, no matter where they are, no matter what type they are. 

To learn more about asset management, tune into The Cyber Security Matters Podcast here

We sit down regularly with some of the biggest names in our industry, we dedicate our podcast to the stories of leaders in the technologies industries that bring us closer together. Follow the link here to see some of our latest episodes and don’t forget to subscribe.     

The Future of Ransomware Protection

An increasing number of ransomware attacks are coming through emails. It’s clear that the ease of attack vector is changing, and not for the better. On Episode 13 of The Cyber Security Matters Podcast we spoke to Ronnen Brunner, an SVP at Ironscales, about his work in selling the future of phishing protection. He shared his insights on the increase of ransomware attacks in emails and told us how we can identify and protect against these attacks.

You don’t need to be an expert in order to send a successful ransomware attack, because there are services you can just download on the dark web that will do all the hard work for you as a hacker. You can spam attacks directly to customers – you don’t need to be the sophisticated hacker sitting down and programming a credential theft or phishing attempt. You can use existing engines to attack people, and because of the ease of it, it’s become a lot more common. 

There’s a lot of variety when it comes to scammers who will spam hundreds or thousands of people and those who target specific individuals. A lot of hackers are just hoping that some of their attempts at phishing will be successful, and they’re the ones focussing on quantity.  Especially when you’re looking at credential safe, or Spear Phishing, they are targeting specific people by sitting in their mailbox, getting to know the regular interactions that they have and then designing a targeted attack that they won’t see coming.  

These scammers can learn your pattern of the behaviour, your invoices, forms, vendors etc, and create a legitimate invoice with different bank details on it. Once a payment has been made it’s often incredibly difficult to get back. Lots of these scammers are posing as big companies, because it’s easy to make an email look like it’s coming from a reliable source. You can emulate the domain name or make it look like it’s coming from a person in the company whose information you found on LinkedIn. From speaking to these companies we know that 60-70% of attacks are coming in through their emails. They’re being targeted because of the information they put online.  

We’ve seen customers trying to stop it. It’s incredibly hard because of the quantities of emails that go in and out. Some of these attacks look very sophisticated. It’s all about training people to identify what’s a ‘known dead’ and what’s a potential red flag. People need to understand malicious content and intent, then utilise machine learning or AI to sift through the information and flag any anomalies that could point to an attack. In the business we have something called ‘zero day attacks’, where there is no other indication that this email isn’t genuine. There’s no markers from our list of ‘known dead’ elements to tip you off, and that’s when these attacks are their most dangerous. 

Some things to look out for are language like ‘buy these amazon vouchers’ or requests to change bank details on an invoice. These could be very simple emails that look like legitimate communications from known senders. You should always question changes to your payments. Once bank details are changed and you make a payment, you’ll notice a massive increase in emails that ask you to change the bank details for other vendors, because these hackers have figured out how to effectively steal from you. 

Everybody’s seen an increasing number of attacks since the COVID pandemic, because hackers had the time to fine-tune these attacks. They’re becoming incredibly successful and sophisticated, which is why we need next generation solutions. Everybody we’ve spoken to has a fishing problem, because they’re not preparing for these attacks in their systems. Even though sometimes these attacks are stopped our email providers, there are still several getting through. People need to report phishing attempts if we’re going to get an accurate idea of the problem, and sadly that’s not happening either. We should be crowdsourcing suspicious behaviour and building a safer world together. 

To find out more about keeping yourself safe online, tune into The Cyber Security Matters Podcast here

We sit down regularly with some of the biggest names in our industry, we dedicate our podcast to the stories of leaders in the technologies industries that bring us closer together. Follow the link here to see some of our latest episodes and don’t forget to subscribe.     

Sustainability in the Broadcast Industry 

As our world becomes increasingly reliant on technology, we have to consider the environmental impact of our consumption. On Episode 12 of The Content & Media Podcast we spoke to Kristan Bullett about how we can promote sustainability in our industry. Kristan is the Founder and CEO of Humans Not Robots; a remote-first startup developing an analytics and observability platform, which works to reduce the environmental impact of online video. 

As an industry, there’s a lack of awareness regarding energy consumption in streaming versus broadcast. How do you think we can change this?

Bodies like Green Streaming are doing a great job of raising awareness. They had an event at the House of Commons last year and a couple of good media interviews that offered an understanding of the significant environmental impacts of video. As consumers, we like to make sure our pockets are comfortable, but that often comes with an environmental cost. I’d like to see companies like Netflix showing that by going down the UHD subscription route, you’re having a negative effect on the environment, because of the additional encoding and CDN storage costs. They could offer packages that cost this much more, but are responsible for producing this much less carbon. It would be good to put cost side by side with the environmental impacts from a consumer perspective.

Why is it so important for workflow and analytics to be more sustainable throughout the broadcast media industry?

As an industry, we like to say that we’re very data-driven. I don’t think that’s the case. If we’re going to reduce our carbon footprint by 10% we have to stop doing some things. But, you need to be able to measure your impact to actually achieve those goals. My first point is to continue to advocate for a data-driven approach. I don’t think anyone’s really doing that. Loads of organisations jumped into the cloud, because they wanted to believe in the hype of reduced infrastructure costs and cheaper usage patterns, but they’ve had their fingers burned by it. People are moving back out of the cloud, because actually, for whatever their use case is, it didn’t make sense. Taking a data driven approach would have helped them wrap that understanding into a safety net before taking action. So I’m an advocate for data driven analytics rather than sustainability.

How can supply chains in your work be cleaner, faster and cheaper?

Everyone likes things cheaper, so there’s already a desire to pay less for things. The problem is that we’re focused on getting suppliers to charge us less, not optimising our processes so that we use less. We should do both of those things. In the usage based world though, where’s the incentive for a supplier to help you use less? There isn’t one. Lowering your own resource utilisation will save you money and use less resources, which is a win-win situation.

How do we turn these discussions into action?

There are a couple of pieces of legislation coming in the next year that penalise big companies if they don’t focus on their environmental impact. Unfortunately, that seems to work. If you hit them with a stick, they’ll try to do something about it. It would be brilliant if we could turn it the other way around. Wouldn’t it be great to have a top 100 Clean Companies list that people would try to get on? That would actively support companies who are working towards a cleaner future. 

To hear more about improving your environmental impact within the industry, tune into The Content & Media Matters Podcast here

We sit down regularly with some of the biggest names in our industry, we dedicate our podcast to the stories of leaders in the technologies industries that bring us closer together. Follow the link here to see some of our latest episodes and don’t forget to subscribe.     

How to Develop a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Initiative in the Media Industry

Diversity is a regular topic on The Content & Media Matters Podcast. On Episode 10 we spoke to Megan Wagoner, the RVP of Media & Entertainment at Bitmovin, about how to develop a DEI initiative in your company. Meghan advocates for diversity and inclusion within the industry, and serves as Vice President on the Board of Directors for Women in Streaming Media, making her the perfect person to speak to us about DEI in the Content & Media industry. 

Why is a diversity, equality and inclusion initiative still needed in 2023?

It’s still blatantly obvious that ours is not a diverse industry. The good news is that we’re starting to see more diversity, but we still have some ways to go.

As a hiring manager, I see a lot of resumes, and there are very few women that I have found that are qualified. The issue isn’t that we’re not picking women, it’s that they’re not being brought up to know that this is an option. We need advocacy at a much earlier stage. A good friend from my MBA class said, “I hire based on skill and who’s the right fit. Why does diversity have to come into it?” 

That made me realise that you have to have the right candidate pool. You need to have people who are willing and able to do the job. You can’t hire someone just to fill a diversity quota. If you do bring in a diverse candidate, they’re going to bring a new perspective and experience, which will result in a better company – but they need to bring in relevant skills and experience to the role as well. 

It’s so easy to stereotype when you’re looking at a resume. Just from a person’s name, you can make assumptions about their gender and nationality. It’s essential to strip away the stereotypes and remove that unconscious bias. Hiring should be skills-based, so it could be 100% anonymous. Instead of going on LinkedIn and identifying who a candidate is, you should look at their skill set instead. 

There have been so many women that I really wanted to hire because I could see their potential, but they weren’t the most qualified candidates. I knew we could coach them, but we didn’t have the time to do it. We need to get out there and talk to girls in high school and universities, and we need to be telling people, “Hey, this is a really fabulous industry, and it’s something that you can do anywhere.” Flexibility is a big thing. If you’re a lawyer in Australia, you can’t just move to another country, because the laws are very different. The content industry is almost universal, so it opens up this whole new world of opportunity. 

We will start to have a pool of rising talent that is able to get those C-level seats. I want to see women represented at the highest level. You see most female leadership in HR and marketing, but I want to see that in tech. Women are so smart with operations and analytical thinking, so they’ll be able to push the envelope in terms of what’s available for the next generation. 

What should a company leadership team be doing if they want to develop a Diversity and Inclusion Initiative? 

Social media advocacy is phenomenal. Liking and interacting with content is a great start, especially if you add your two cents and a comment. Not many companies have the resources or the budget to be able to allow somebody to do the DEI full time. Oftentimes, it’s a volunteer position within a company that you are adding to your current workload, without an additional payment. It’s another different hat to wear. 

If you’re in that position, know that you don’t have to do it all at once. You have to be able to take baby steps. Find a group of people within your company who are passionate about inclusion, and form a committee. You’ll need to strategize in a top-level way at first. Consider what you want the company to represent in terms of diversity. Do you want to make sure that everybody in your audience is represented? Do you want a diverse tech team? Look at the demographics of your company, and see if there’s a gap or difference in the ratio of gender, race, nationality, etc, then start by addressing that. It doesn’t have to happen overnight. 

It needs to start with recruiting. You don’t have to hire somebody because of their characteristics, but you do have to be open to it. Take those blinders off. It might mean that you take a little bit longer to recruit a new team member, because you’re looking for someone who is a great fit and brings a different perspective to the team, rather than just hiring the first great fit you find. You need to be able to see the candidates for who they are and who they can become. If women or minorities are underrepresented, you should be looking for another way to get them into the company. You should be hiring with the idea of parity between everybody.

To hear more about developing a diversity, equity and inclusion initiative in your company, listen to The Content & Media Matters Podcast here

We sit down regularly with some of the biggest names in our industry, we dedicate our podcast to the stories of leaders in the technologies industries that bring us closer together. Follow the link here to see some of our latest episodes and don’t forget to subscribe.