Jane Frankland

The Source Founder and Cybersecurity Expert Jane Frankland

Jane FranklandFounder and Cybersecurity Expert

Today, we are joined by tech entrepreneur, author, speaker, advisor, and founder of The Source, Jane Frankland. Jane has identified several discrepancies in the hiring process and, in this episode, she shares her advice for ensuring a diverse and inclusive workplace from the get-go.

Rob Stevenson 0:05
Welcome to Talk talent to me, a podcast featuring the most elite talent leaders on the front lines of modern recruitment.

Speaker 2 0:12
We actually want to understand the themes of someone’s life, we want to understand how they make decisions where they’re willing to take risks and what it looks like when they fail,

Rob Stevenson 0:22
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Speaker 3 0:31
Once I went through the classes and the trainings and got the certifications through diversity and inclusion, I still felt like something was missing.

Speaker 4 0:39
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Rob Stevenson 0:52
I’m your host, Rob Stevenson, and you’re about to hear the best in the biz. talk down to me. Here with me today on top talent to me is an award winning tech and cybersecurity leader. She has had a whole bevy of roles in the cybersecurity space. And she’s also the founder of the source platform, which seeks to create community and career advice for women in cybersecurity. Jane Frankland, welcome to the podcast. How are you today?

Jane Frankland 1:18
Hi, Bob. Yeah, I’m really good. I’m really good. I’m really excited to be here.

Rob Stevenson 1:23
I am as well. And Jane, you are unique compared to some of the guests I have on the show. Normally, usually I speak with people in the talent department, you were on the town department. But you are working on this, this community this project that I’m fascinated by and I wanted to have you on the show to talk more about it. We’ll get into the source in a minute. But first, I would just love for you to share a little bit about your background and how you came to this point.

Speaker 5 1:47
Yeah, well, my background actually, is in art and design. So I have a degree in art and design, specifically textile design, woven textile design. And so I trained as a weaver, a trained as a weaver. And I was nominated as a young British designer back in the day. Art was my passion. And I still identify as a designer, because design is really important. And I like things to be functional, and also to look great. So I want that user experience and lovely, beautiful branding and hold experience. Yeah, so that was that was my initial background. And then after graduating, I fell pregnant with my first son. So I’m a mom with three kids, older kids, as you’ve just heard. And I worked as a designer, I worked as a freelance designer selling work all over the world in some art galleries like Christie’s Art Gallery, and then there came a point in time whereby I was working, like loads of hours, and I couldn’t pay my bills, because it didn’t know what the my agent was, was going to sell. And so I had to make a decision to change career and someone said, look, you’ve got a good brain, it’s time for you to go and get a proper job. So I retrained, I retrained as a high it was called high tech, secretarial. And that enabled me to get a job in sales, which was something that as an introvert, I was not interested in. It’s just like, No, I don’t do sales, like no way. But I ended up doing this job in sales. And that kind of led me into technology. And when I met a guy who fell in love, he became a boyfriend. He said to me, like, shall we go and start a company, he was already in technology. And I had always wanted my own business. I’d worked as a freelance designer for a while. And so I said, Yeah, let’s go do it. So that’s kind of how I came into technology. And when I started my company with him, I didn’t because I didn’t know much about technology. The only things that interested me at that time, which was in 1997, was security or AI. And AI was too new then, but security was was innovative, that it was feasible. So I thought it sounded a little bit like James Bond, and I kind of cringe saying that, but there are loads of other people, my generation who have said the same thing. And so that’s kind of how it all started. And then as the years kind of progressed, I saw trends. I’m quite good at spotting trends and niched down and built this company and went on a rollercoaster ride of, of building, effectively a hacking company because that’s what we did. We went into companies and we looked for vulnerabilities, exploits, how could we? How could we find the weaknesses? And then it was our job to let the company’s great big banks, retailers, big brand names, know about them, so that they could secure their environments.

Rob Stevenson 4:37
Got it. And so your experience in this hacking company and kind of in the cybersecurity space writ large, leads you on this path to founding the source. Can you maybe give the elevator pitch 30 word boilerplate of the source and then I’d love to hear about your experience that led you to to understand that something like this was necessary.

Jane Frankland 4:57
This was really came about because I’d written a book. So I’d written a book about women in cybersecurity. Because I’d written a blog and it had just taken off, it had gone viral. And again, I saw a pattern, I could see that there were low numbers of women in cybersecurity, and that there had been higher numbers, and the fact that they decreased and the fact that I knew that women saw risk in a different way to men, and that if you didn’t have women in companies helping to assess risk and protect companies, then you were going to be less safe, really started from me accidentally writing this blog about a situation and putting my eyes on it, and then writing this book. And then after writing the book, I then really wanted to create an environment for women where they could come together, and not feel so alone, because I knew from having written the book, they were feeling a little bit exploited, like they were doing the lion’s share of the work, and they were burning out, they were also not necessarily understanding how to get to the next level. And because the source is there as an environment for all levels of women in cybersecurity, and needed to kind of solve those problems. So for me, I always talk about the source as being a place where women come together to, to learn to network, and to exceed, and it’s that safe community. So it’s, it’s really powerful. And it can do an awful lot of things. And I’ve been on a journey with it. And it’s still evolving.

Rob Stevenson 6:28
Yeah, there is this community side, which is crucial, I think, because just to have the shared experience, like women and being underrepresented in that sector, who are their peers that they can speak to, there may not be any at their company, right? That that where they can, like share their experience with. And so the source creates those connections, which I think is probably really helpful for folks. There’s also the like, the consultative arm of the business, where you were kind of going into companies and sort of reflecting back to them what the reality of working at their company kind of is for for someone from underrepresented group. Could you share a little about that side of the business, too?

Speaker 5 7:02
Yeah, absolutely. So if company wants to work with me, what I’ll do is go in and have a discovery call have a conversation. But from having looked at the situation, and having been in cybersecurity for like, over, like two decades, I’ve kind of boiled it down to, there are seven areas that a company really needs to look at. The first is really like looking at the plan. So looking at the plan, looking at the brand, looking at the communications, looking at the talent management, looking at leadership culture, I think that might be seven, I might have missed one out. But it’s really looking at all of those areas, and assessing where that organization is, on their journey, how well are they doing those things? Do they have a plan? Some do? Some don’t? You know, it depends on the organization. If they do have a plan, how effective is it, some companies are struggling to attract good talent, top talent, others are doing a good job of that, but they’re not able to retain the talent. And there’s an awful lot of focus that is put on attracting talent. So the retention can be such a big problem for companies. And that’s really where you that the onboarding kind of comes in. So like what’s happening with the onboarding, what’s happening about the learning and development? What’s the culture? Like, how are your leaders performing? Are they really supporting the women coming in all people, but in this instance, we’re talking about women. So it’s really making sure that the environment is psychologically safe, because that is essential for top performance. So for me, when I’m going into a company, I’m looking at all of those things, and really looking for root problems, as opposed to symptoms as to why something might not be as effective as it as it could be.

Rob Stevenson 8:52
It sounds obvious to say, Oh, does the company have a plan? However, every company would probably say, of course, we have a plan to fix our talent problem, but then they may not. Or they may not even know they have a talent problem, right? Their solution may be like, well, we hired this head of talent six months ago, and now they have two recruiters and they’re going to be posting those jobs and emailing candidates, and that’s gonna solve our talent problem. That’s not a plan that’s describing one function. So what does it sound like when someone actually has their ducks in a row here? Are you like, okay, it sounds like you’ve thought about this. You don’t need my help in that area. What does that sound like?

Jane Frankland 9:25
That would be amazing. But I’ve not come across a company.

Rob Stevenson 9:28
If that ever happens, please come back on the podcast and explain it. I guess I’ll ask you this side of things. What is the more common experience you have than when you go in? And you’re like, it’s clear these these people have not really put the thought in this that deserves what does that sound like?

Speaker 5 9:40
Yeah, I mean, it could be like, they don’t even know what good looks like. So as obvious a question as that could be, well, what does good look like to you? Many of them haven’t even thought about that. So they have a plan and they have loads of wines, and they’ll probably have loads of graphics, and they might have reports illustrating their gender diversity. The stats or other stats and things like that. But it’s like, it’s almost like that’s, that’s marketing. That’s not it’s not doing the job that it needs to. So that’s one of the questions I always ask. And I’m always surprised, because most of the people that I speak to will say, Oh, I hadn’t really thought about that. But to me, it’s really obvious. Another aspect is the hiring side of things. So like, what, what taught me through the process what’s happening? Because a lot of the time, I think companies or companies put the blame on women. Certainly, in cybersecurity, well, women don’t want to do this. Women aren’t applying, it’s the woman’s fault. And I always push back on that and say, well, that’s, that’s not necessarily the case. There can be a bit of that. But it could just be your your inadequacy, to perfect some of these processes that are going on. So we really need to look at what what is your messaging? Who’s using it? Like, are you really, have you just gone to talent? If we’re talking about large company, have you just gone to talent acquisition and said to them, find me a woman? Or you’re going to be rewarded bonus, here are your targets on finding women? So it could be in that instance? It could be that yes, they are all targeted art. They’ve got their goals, they know what good looks like there. But they’re not actually drilling down to the data to actually find out well, how many women are actually applying? You know, they’re not actually well, how many have applied? Because Have you got a problem with applications? Or is it a case of Well, women are applying, but they’re not getting through it, they’re not converting through the different kind of phases that they that you have in your company. And the amount of phases could be numerous. They could be short, or they could be numerous, involving so many different people. But actually understanding what’s going on there, the metrics, the data can be really helpful, because that will lead you to decide, okay, fine, you’re not getting enough through, I think of it as, as in sales, marketing. So if you’re not attracting, if you’re not getting in front of your audience with the right messaging, and really appealing to them, and you’re not able to attract them, then it’s no wonder that you’re not getting great conversion rates, it’s no wonder that you’re not getting many women coming through. If you aren’t getting loads, and they’re falling through along the way, then we need to look out well, what’s going on. And I’ll give you a good example of this. The other day, I was talking to someone who had a test for applicants. And it was a video test. And they were all asked to do certain things to answer questions and things like that. They realized they had a problem in regard to gender at the end of it, but not not at the beginning. So they had I think it was like 5050 gender split. And what they didn’t do was they didn’t say to the to all applicants, you can use any of these questions, you can use any resource that you want. If you want to open up a window and use Google to find an answer, you can do that. We don’t mind how you do that. Now what happened with the answer the questions, guys were being really resourceful guys were doing just that they were opening up Google that women want, because they were abiding by the rules, they were being compliant in a way that they thought they should be. And so and this is typically what you find women are more compliant of the roles, which can be a great thing. And it can also be a not so good thing, you know, advantages and disadvantages. And that’s how typically, and culturally, men and women, and I’m just talking about the two genders hit can operate, not always, but often due to the way that they’ve been brought up, education, parents, or background, etc, etc. If the hiring manager had actually said, the resource for we don’t mind how you do it, you’ve been video, that’s okay, just get the answer, then it would have given every single person doing that test an opportunity. And it’s because of how things are, it’s unfair to kind of say, women aren’t good enough to come and work here, or women aren’t resourceful enough. You have to be aware of like the process, and how men and women the gender, it’s not that there aren’t any two genders, but how we operate. So again, it’s another another awareness angle to look at. So it’s really being mindful of what is going on. Are your processes set up to remove as much bias as possible? And are you educated in them? Are you giving all applicants an equal opportunity to get through your hiring process? That’s just a couple of examples.

Rob Stevenson 14:43
Yeah, that’s really helpful. And the nuance there of what’s happening in that interview of Oh, male candidate was more resourceful because they just they had a computer and they’re like, Whatever, I’ll do whatever I need to do to get this answer. Whereas the female candidate was like, Oh, this is more of like a test. I’m like, this is a performance Like if you’re taking a test, you’re not allowed to it’s not an open book test,

Speaker 5 15:02
they would think they were cheating. They would. It wasn’t a case. It’s like resourcefulness. But just with an explanation right at the beginning, be mindful of that would have got rid of that.

Rob Stevenson 15:13
Totally. But that difference may not be documented in an ATS, for example, right? Like, the interviewer may not be like, Oh, I thought it was great that candidate A was resourceful, and Candidate B wasn’t resourceful. And so you wouldn’t even know like, Well, what do you mean, Candidate B wasn’t resourceful? Well, they didn’t open a Google tab. That’s already a more nuanced conversation about an interview that I think mostly takes place. And instead, the candidate doesn’t pass the interview. And like, are they you know, they could have been more resourceful. They didn’t use more tools, like is your interview feedback and interview notes? Is it that detailed? If it’s not, are you rejecting capable candidates? For no reason at all? Basically, right. And because they just didn’t pass an arbitrary bar of interview that they kind of they set for themselves?

Speaker 5 15:54
Absolutely. I mean, that’s, that’s absolute yet. It’s really interesting. I mean, there are a little subtle things that can be changed, which make all the difference to accompany.

Rob Stevenson 16:02
Yeah, it’s an important reminder to hone in on the area of the funnel, where people are dropping off, you have to understand the where of your problem. If you look at your employee base, and you’re like, Why does not look a certain way? Where are those folks falling off? Like you said, are they not applying? Are they getting to the on site and not advancing? Where is the actual interpret the problem? And then as you said earlier, it could be a lot later, it’s like, oh, that people are getting hired. And then they’re 10 years, 90 days, why are people leaving, because even though we’ve created an inclusive interview, process, we’ve not an application process, we’ve not created an inclusive workplace, we’ve not created a place where someone of X background can thrive. So they’re just leaving,

Speaker 5 16:39
absolutely, every one has to be set up for success. And sometimes, you know, with the targets and things like that, get me a woman find me a woman. Sometimes that doesn’t help if that support isn’t there after the onboarding. So it could be a case of, yes, that woman has gone is absolutely perfect for it. And that’s brilliant, best person for the job, it could be actually this woman here has got the skills, the capabilities, she just needs a bit of support. And we can do that, because we can pair it up, we can get hold of mentoring, maybe but coaching, or some skills training, or whatever it is, but we’re going to support her with that, rather than just leave her to her own devices. I’ll give you an example of that. I remember when I was in Australia, years ago, before I actually finished writing the book, I was chatting to a woman who had been hired as a penetration tester, along with about three other guys. And she was the most qualified, the smartest one out of the lot of them. And when they were all recruited, she really did not perform, she really struggled. And her manager looked at her and kind of went, hang on this doesn’t figure like I thought she was the smartest, her grades are really good and all of that. And she continued to decline. And she felt really bad. So she lost her motivation. And literally, he was about to soccer. And then she got a new manager. And he looked at her and he kind of went, What’s going on here? Like what is happening? Why is this going on. And so what he did was he broke her tasks down into small bite sized chunks. And he got her to like build her confidence and to complete the tasks in small bite sized chunks, until she could do these tasks in their entirety. But in the process, what they all discovered was that the guys were struggling just as much as hard. Because the guys had all grouped together as a pod. They were asking questions and going, Oh, my God don’t know how to do this, like help, what have you figured out, and they figured it out together as a group. But she wasn’t included in that. So she was left on her own, you know, so hard again, like more, if there was more awareness of that, and just checking in and making sure and creating that, that psychological safety so that the individuals can raise their hand and say that I don’t understand like help, or there were practices in place where you could have those little groups so that you could be supported, then that would have really helped her. Luckily, she was she was able to perform, they still had our she became head of our pentesting and, and really excel to her full potential. And luckily, there was a smart, smart lead in there who could recognize those things and turn that situation around. But that’s just another example of making sure that your people are set up for success when they come in, whether it’s a situation like that, or whether it’s a stretch situation whereby this person can do it, providing they’ve got support, if they’re recruited on Agenda base or non agenda basis, because I don’t actually believe that people are recruited for their skills. But if a situation happens, where they go into an organization, and that they’re struggling, they need that support rather than just to be left to fail, because that’s really detrimental because other people are looking and they will just turn around and say your agenda hire women are bad women don’t work when bid on up to this, and so on. And that can be so bad for the team around you, and also the hiring manager that sometimes it results in. And then this is a genuine story, where the hiring manager will turn around and say, I’m not employing a woman, again, all of this happens. And because women are minority, they’re remembered for longer, that experience is remembered for longer. Whereas imagine turning around and saying, I’m not going to employ a man again, you know, literally, it would be like a joke. So it’s just like, we have to be mindful and aware of these things, aware of privilege, whether that is on a case of our agenda, our cultural heritage, ethnicity, and so on, we’ve got to be aware of these things.

Rob Stevenson 20:44
Absolutely. And it’s tough, because whose job is this, it comes down to company culture, it’s everyone’s job a little bit, it’s like the manager’s job, the recruiter ends up taking a lot of this responsibility, because even in the example where the working environment is not set up, so this type of candidate or this type of employee can succeed. That’s not the recruiters job, but it affects their ability to do their job. So I can see why they would want to have their hooks in that a little bit to be like, hey, hiring manager, like, I can’t keep bringing you these candidates, because you’re chewing them up and spitting them out. Like, I’m not going to do this, again, that is a responsibility. I think it’s a really hard one for recruiters to take. And you’re maybe speaking with someone who’s a lot more powerful you would then you in the organization, but your job is to like hire for a monster, you need to reflect on the job or reflect on the monster.

Speaker 5 21:29
Yeah, and also from a leadership perspective, it’s like often leaders are bonused up on diversity or ESG targets. And it’s really asking them, it’s it’s the requirements of modern leadership. Now, they have to be emotionally intelligent, they’ve got to be up to speed, things like ESG, and diversity, and burnout and mental health and mental well being, as well as the jobs that they’re doing technically. So there’s, there’s so much more for them to be aware of now than ever, there was before because in the old days, it was literally, you’re lucky if you’ve got a job here. It’s command and control do as I say, whereas nowadays, you know, some people refer to like the the younger generations has been the snowflake generation, you know, it’s just like precious little me. And that can cause a rub culturally, in terms of things like that. And there is a happy balance or happy medium there.

Rob Stevenson 22:23
Yep, of course. Well, Jane, you’re doing fantastic work over there with the source. And I’m glad that this organization exists. It sounds like there’s going to be more representation amongst your clients and connection amongst the professionals in the space that desperately need it. So well done you on creating the source and operating as well as you have and I’m so glad you came in to talk to me today a different kind of episode than we normally have been really important, I think to get the perspective of someone outside the talent vehicle like we normally have on so at this point, I’ll just say thank you so much for being here. Jane, I’ve loved chatting with you today.

Jane Frankland 22:54
Amazing. Thanks Rob

Rob Stevenson 22:58
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