Jane Frankland is an award-winning leader, best-selling author, speaker and change agent. Through her company, collaborations and partnerships, Jane is solving the problem of making women standard in male dominated industries like cyber, as she believes if you’re short on women, you are less safe, happy and prosperous. Having spent over two decades in cybersecurity, Jane has become one of the industry’s most celebrated female influencers and UNESCO has called her a trailblazing woman in tech. She started in tech by building her own hacking firm in the late 90s but has also worked as a senior executive for world renown consultancies. She regularly shares her thought leadership in the media, including the top broadsheets, at events, as a university guest lecturer and board adviser. She is known for spotting trends, bringing teams together for mutual wins, solving root problems fast, plus all the work she does with women. She is driven by her three children, an obsession to deliver outstanding quality and to make a positive difference in the world.
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You’re listening to KBkast, the cyber security podcast for all executives, cutting through the jargon and hype to understand the landscape where risk and technology meet. Now, here’s your host, Karissa Breen.
Joining me today is Jane Frankland, founder from the Source platform. And today we’re discussing women in the cyber security industry. So, Jane, thanks for joining. It’s been a while. I feel awful that I haven’t had you on the show before, and it’s a pleasure to have you here today.
Jane Frankland (01:05)
It’s so amazing to be here, Karissa. It really is. Thanks for having me.
Now, Jane, I want to start with you are probably one of the original people who’ve pioneered women in cybersecurity, I mean, from my perspective anyway. So talk to me about your journey with this endeavor so far.
Jane Frankland (01:24)
Yeah. Well, my work with women in cyber really started as an accident. So what happened was in 2015, I happened to write a blog on women in cyber because I picked up an ISC squared report and saw that there were low numbers of women. And I was really surprised because at that time, I think I’d been in the industry for about 17 years or something like that. And I just thought, I know so many women. This is really surprising. I thought there were more than this. But the thing that shocked me more was the stagnation. So I’d seen a drop in the numbers of women, and then I saw the numbers stagnating. So what I did was I was already blogging a lot anyway, so I just got onto LinkedIn and thought, Let me write about this and my experience. And I was really courageous because I thought, Oh, my God, I’m going to get killed for what I write, what I wrote. But I didn’t. It struck a chord. A lot of people, men and women, fed back to me and really enjoyed what I wrote about. And that led me to write more.
Jane Frankland (02:30)
I wrote for more magazines. And then over the Christmas period, I didn’t have my kids for about a week and a half. So I thought, I’ll just make this a bit more useful and I write a report and structure it out and everything like that. And that turns into about 15,000 words. And I thought, Well, that’s half a book. So although it’s got nothing to do with my business, and I knew that a book was a really good part of a product ecosystem, so I knew it was great for that, but it had nothing to do with my business. So I contacted a publisher who was a friend of mine and I said, Look, I’ve done this. Should I turn it into a book? What do you think? And she said, Look, you’d be crazy if you didn’t. And so that’s how it all started. I didn’t think that it would actually take me very long to write the book. But actually, it really was a research project. The only qualifications I had was that I was a woman and I was working in cyber. But really, it was understanding, well, what is going on and talking to hundreds, if not thousands of people, to hear their stories and to collect reference points, data points and things like that.
Jane Frankland (03:39)
So that’s how it all began. And then when I announced that I was doing this just to check because I also created a kick starter project so that I could publish parts self published. So it’s a hybrid version of it. People wanted solution. So it was just like, tell us what to do and will you come and speak at our events? And that’s how my journey began. And I started speaking. I wasn’t a professional speaker. It was my greatest fear. And so I traveled the world speaking about this, writing the book. And then I continued to do that until about probably two years ago. Yeah, two or three years ago when I decided to create a membership, a platform and really take it to the next level. And after I wrote the book, I really wanted to help more. But what I wasn’t sure about was whether or not to create something purely for women or whether it needed to be gender neutral. And by 2019, I’d made that decision. So I just cracked on, created a membership, a pure platform for women only, and set about marketing that and selling it. So that’s been my journey.
Jane Frankland (05:00)
Today, I still speak a lot about women and other topics in cyber, like sustainability. Like the moment I’m talking about sustainability, but that’s how my journey has gone.
Wow, that’s incredible. I didn’t actually know the full back story, so thank you so much for sharing that. Now, there’s a few things as you’ve been speaking, Jane, that I really am curious about. You said that when you first started blogging on LinkedIn, you’re a bit worried about because I think LinkedIn and their trolls have diminished a lot. I don’t know whether people are using the platform less or maybe they’ve woken up to themselves, but I’m curious to know, and you said that people were responsive, what were some of the responses you were getting around stuff that you were talking about online?
Jane Frankland (05:43)
Gosh, well, I’m in it was a while ago, I actually included some of those right at the very beginning of my book, but there were comments from guys and they said, Look, we try to get women into the industry, but they just don’t want to come. So I vividly remember that. And then also women, I remember this one woman from Australia actually, she talked to me about how she got into security and what she was doing, paying it forward, going into schools and helping school children learn more about this and become familiar with it. So it was very positive. And I have actually been really lucky because I haven’t actually been told that much. And certainly in those days, I think it was more minimal. I mean, I have gone through trawling and quite severe trawling where people have been banned from Twitter. And God knows what they said. I know some people were sacked from their jobs because of how it went. But my experience by and large has been pretty much okay. But I do deal with trolls in a certain manner, and I don’t tend to give them too much of my time.
That’s awful. So you’re saying that people were trawling you based on the whole women in cyber, or was it something different?
Jane Frankland (07:00)
There was one which was to do with right at the very beginning when I was talking about writing a book and putting an event on. And one guy, he was director actually at a very big brand, and he was really very abusive. And there were a lot of people watching at the time. And I remember one of the ladies from Australia, again, it’s just so coincidental. But she messaged me and she said, That’s bang out of order. I’m reporting him. This company are big on diversity and inclusion. Can you give me your email? And so that happened. And he was dealt with. And actually, we became good friends. But she showed immense support for me, and that was really good. And then another time, really where it blew up was when I had an issue with women in red dresses. And I blogged about this, and I learned an awful lot from it. And it actually turned out okay. But I was standing up for women, and I was calling out something that happened at a very large event in the UK. And this company had gone against the rules. They had women who they were really exploiting in terms of what they were wearing.
Jane Frankland (08:12)
If it had been a whole theme, which it was, and the guys were dressed up too, it would have been absolutely fine. But because I’ve been in security for such a long time and because I’ve seen an awful lot, not blogged about it, I tweeted about it. And although the company did apologise, the event company apologised actually, and I was found not to have broken any rules or anything like that, it did all kick off. And it was a really interesting affair. And it was all okay, as I said, and I learned lots about it and shared my learning lessons with my network to help them. But that did start a whole load of research and also the code of conduct that has made its way to almost a hundred, if not a hundred event orgers all around the world. And that serves to keep all people safe, but particularly women, because women are targeted so much more at events. There’s discrimination, there’s exploitation, there’s harassment, inappropriate behavior, you name it, it goes on. And this is somewhat… I mean, I have done a groundbreaking substantial study on this that involved over 2,157 women, I think it was, from countries like the Americas, UK, Europe, Middle East, Africa, literally pretty much every content of Oceania, just said I could hear from women and get their view on what exactly was happening.
Jane Frankland (09:49)
Because typically, we hear from America, we may be here from Canada, we may be here from Australia, we may be here from the UK, but typically, we’re not hearing from other countries. So for me, it was really important to get a world women’s voice inside, but on what was going on.
Wow, that is crazy. I can’t believe someone would go that far. And I’m just curious to know, so this director you’re referring to, what was the impetus to go to that extreme level? Fair enough, maybe he disagreed with you, but did he have to go public? I don’t understand that.
Jane Frankland (10:28)
Yeah, it’s just some people. I mean, I need to thought, what’s going on in his life? Is he drunk? It was a Sunday night. Is he drunk? Is he getting a divorce from his wife? Does he hate women? What’s going on? So I was very tasked and professional with my response, which is how I always am. But who knows what was happening with him? And quite frankly, it’s just none of my business. That’s his business to sort out. But it’s very, very typical. I mean, when I was being told extensively on Twitter, I remember one of the guys inside the bar saying to me, Man, he did that when one of his friends stepped in and said, look back off, James is a good person. And he said, I’m so sorry. He did apologize. And he said, I’m so sorry, but my natural default is to be the aggressor, the attacker. And please accept my apology, which I did and all was fine. And then some other people steam in and said, how do you feel about a man coming to your aids and all of that? And I really didn’t give a h, I really didn’t care at all.
Jane Frankland (11:32)
It’s just like, Thanks very much, you’re a decent person. I appreciate that. I didn’t really care about that at all. But it was really interesting. It was pretty horrible to see how people reacted. They just brought their own agenda to it. They didn’t find out what had happened. They were incredibly abusive. But this is how it can be, particularly on Twitter. It’s absolutely horrific. And women’s voices are being silenced, absolutely. And they’re being silenced by all types of people. So it’s not a case of it’s just men, or it’s just this particular type of man. There’s a whole variety, a whole variety going on. Professors, sea levels, men, women. It’s really, really unpleasant.
Yeah. Wow. It sounds it. This is pretty full on stuff. So, okay, where do you believe this behaviour stems from? So you’re saying before, the man on Twitter, the aggressive one, where’s this coming from? What’s the reasoning? Are they threatened? Do they feel inferior? Do they feel that they’re trying to put other people down to make them feel better? Because, again, this seems very counterintuitive to the whole diversity and women in security. This doesn’t incentivise women to work in the field based on what you’re just sharing with me today.
Jane Frankland (12:54)
Well, not at all. And that’s why many women don’t speak on the record about it. So it’s just like, yeah, I mean, there is a lot that goes on. And also when women do speak about it, they can be accused of complaining. Or I was allegedly attacked, assaulted allegedly by someone at an event. And he came after me because of the work that I do. It was actually at a charity event. And a charity event about abuse, I was not good at all. And I was really lucky. And a guy did come down because people heard him going for me and called one of my male friends. And he came down and got the guy away, allegedly, because there was an investigation which found nothing. So yeah, people are… I think they feel… Some men may feel threatened, I can’t speak for them and why they do these types of things. Particularly when there’s drink involved, the behaviour just becomes really unpleasant for some, and I’m going to say men. So yeah, that fuels it. But it’s not an excuse. Anyone can have a drink and it doesn’t mean that they’re going to behave like that.
Jane Frankland (14:13)
It’s just that it’s more common to see that type of behaviour when certain individuals have had something to drink or a lot to drink.
Yeah, absolutely. You’re spot on on that front. So I’m curious to know, do you think that this behaviour is more rampant in cyber, or do you think it’s like this across all industries? So whether it’s male dominated, finance, mining, do you think it’s just… I mean, it’s hard for me because I’ve been in this space a decade, so it’s a little bit hard for me to pop my head up and say, Oh, it’s happening. It probably does happen everywhere. But it feels quite intense in this field, though.
Jane Frankland (14:51)
I think you’re going to see it more in some professions. So I have done some research, not extensive research at all on this. But I know, say, when you look at, and it’s very sad, medics in the UK, the National Health Service, there was some research done on sexism in the national for health care. And it’s awful because it’s health care. And that was really pretty horrific. I can’t remember the numbers well, but it was really high. I know when I’ve looked at tech, because when this bit of research that I’ve just been referring to with the data set of over 2,000 women, I saw a report that was done for women in tech at conferences, which really inspired me to do this. And there were 500 women in that data set, and then the numbers were pretty similar. So one in four women who were attending IT events or cybersecurity events… It’s actually one in four for women. But attending a cyber security conference or event said that they’d experience sexual harassment. That was what I found. And that was very similar for women who attended IT events a few years prior to that.
Jane Frankland (16:13)
So I do think it is it’s not, I think. I know it goes on in other industries, but like I said, I haven’t done extensive research. I did see medics. And I also know that it’s pretty horrific in law as well. Absolutely horrific in law.
One in four. That’s pretty high.
Jane Frankland (16:33)
Yeah, it is.
Yeah. Were you shocked by that statistic? No, obviously not.
Jane Frankland (16:40)
No, I wasn’t because I’d seen the women in tech report. I just thought it was absolutely bang on. It was exactly the same. In my report, I wasn’t just looking at harassment, I was looking at a few other things. But just like sharing about the harassment, 12 % of women reporting it were doing so on more than one occasion. So this is repeated incidents behavior. When women were asked if they knew the rank of the sexual haraser, 35 % of women reported they were executive or top level management. When women do, yeah, exactly. But that wasn’t a surprise. That wasn’t a surprise at all because of the stories that I’d heard because of my experience as well. When women do report harassment, it’s often dismissed. And when women reported sexual harassment or inappropriate behavior to the event organizer, the majority said that they were not happy with how it was handled. So other things that are really common are that the code of conduct, say, if there is one, is not visible. So yeah, it’s not great, but it can be improved. It can be improved.
Would you say, Jane, if you had to boil it down to the biggest reason as to why there are less women in the field? I mean, I probably know the answer to this, but the reason that we spoke about already, are those the reasons why we have less women in the field?
Jane Frankland (18:16)
I think it’s really hard to say because there isn’t the data. So the research hasn’t been done. So research has been done by some companies, and that’s great. It’s really good, even if it has changed a bit. So there is more reporting being done, but typically it’s looking at how many women are in the industry, say. And those figures can vary. There hasn’t been any research done on why women are leaving. I’ve looked at research, but it’s pretty old research, and it’s research that is to do with women in tech. And that goes back to 2016. And the research that was done then said that over 50 % of women were leaving tech before they reached 35 years old.
Wow, that’s pretty young.
Jane Frankland (19:03)
Exactly. And if we know that a lot of women are career pivoting and they’re coming into cybersecurity at a later stage, then that’s worrying. I heard the other day from somebody someone. And again, it was anecdotal. There was no reference to any research or anything like that that most women leave within their first year because it is so tough. But again, it’s just like, that’s anecdotal. That’s the story. Where’s the research? I want to see the data.
The comment you said, obviously it’s anecdotal but so tough. What’s tough specifically? More so the challenges that we’ve spoken about already today. Would you say that’s the driving factor?
Jane Frankland (19:42)
It can be. It’s tough depending on what the organization is like. So if women are coming in now, they’re experiencing remote or hybrid working, mostly remote working, I think. So if the onboarding processes aren’t good, then they’re just being left to it. So it’s very easy when people are busy and they’re bombarded with things and they’re just getting on. And maybe they are inadequate leaders, which many of them are because they’re not invested in it. They might take in a leadership course, but that’s it. They’re just being left. And then if women aren’t speaking up or they don’t have someone to turn to… I mean, the amount of women that I’ve spoken to and counselled, and they’ve ended up staying because it’s been the right decision for them at that time is immense. It’s an awful lot. But they don’t have anyone to turn to. And they might be fearful of appearing not strong enough or resilient enough, or maybe it’s just me. I’m the problem. So going inward and making themselves wrong. So gaslighting themselves rather than reaching out and going, Help. Is this normal? Should it be like this? Or, This person said this to me.
Jane Frankland (21:00)
Should I just ignore it? Or I’m being asked to do this and I’m really struggling with the amount of learning that I’ve got to do with the amount of work I’ve got to do. And maybe I’ve got a family or I’ve got relatives to care for or whatever it is, and I just can’t cope. I feel like I can’t say no, so I’m taking it on or I’m being forced to take it on. There are so many different labels and things like that. And there are so many different situations for women who are coming into the industry. And there is also a lot of bullying that goes on in the industry and a lot of unintentional bullying that goes on as well. So it’s really hard. And women are being told by other women that they have to work really, really hard and that it is tough. And so they come in and they work at twice the speed or 10 times the speed. And it’s no wonder that they get burnt out. It’s no wonder that they become stressed. It’s no wonder that the quality of their work drops. Or if they do go away to have a family and they come back, why?
Jane Frankland (22:06)
And they can’t work at the same intensity. And people look at them and go, Well, she’s dropped off a bit. Or you get a comment like, Because she hasn’t? Wow, I’ve worked with some incredible women even after becoming a mother. So comments like that, literally are said all the time.
Yeah, it’s so true. And you are right, especially women do have to work double, twice as hard. I can understand. I can relate to that. You said before, unintentional bullying. Do you think that perhaps people maybe aren’t aware that they come across aggressive and then they’re probably not aware that they’re bullying people. Is that what you mean by unintentional bullying?
Jane Frankland (22:48)
Yeah. Or it could be passive aggressive. So yeah, absolutely. And some people think, Well, that was done to me. So that’s how it is. It’s almost like stripes. It’s toughen you up. And we’ve got a whole variety of people that have come into our industry from lots of different sectors, whether it’s military or law enforcement or teaching.
Jane Frankland (23:15)
Police, whatever it is. And I’m not saying that those people do that and demonstrate that behaviour at all. It’s just that it’s so mixed and it is really prevalent and people are getting away with it. And they’re getting away with it because there is this culture of fear. Women’s voices are being silenced in particular because there’s fear of being sacked. And there are stories about women being sacked for speaking up or about logging it with their manager or HR and then just being ignored.
Well, yeah, I think you’re absolutely right. I think, again, I hear certain stories myself. I’ve experienced certain things myself as well. I think that And that’s why I wanted to bring you on the show because I don’t really have the answers and I’d love to soon talk about maybe some solutions that people can perhaps learn from you today. But before we do that, you mentioned people are getting away with it. How do we keep people responsible and accountable? So you mentioned before, even if the event organizers, the response from certain people were, it wasn’t handled correctly or they didn’t do anything. Do you think that that stems from they’re not sure about how to handle it? Or do you think they know how to handle it, but then was like, okay, let’s just do a half job at handling it.
Jane Frankland (24:38)
It could be both. Again, I’ve not done any research into that. But again, from stories and things like that, I think most of the time people don’t understand the procedures. They haven’t had the training and things like that. Most event companies are not very well run at all. It really is the odd one that is really well run and people know exactly what they’ve got to do. So I would say it’s more the former than the latter. But I remember one woman who was assaulted by a man at an event, and she spoke to me, she spoke to the event organizer, and the event organizer spoke to the guy saying, He’s a really good guy. He donates to charities and things like that. And what they asked her to do, they said, Well, can we basically put it right by donating to a woman’s charity? And also he’s agreed to come on and talk about gender diversity and things like that. Now, they really picked the wrong woman to say that to because she was pretty fierce and she did take it to the police and she took it to the courts. But that’s just an example of how it can go.
Jane Frankland (25:55)
So it really just does depend on who’s doing what. I know my experience with an event organizer was not positive at all.
Gosh, it’s not great to hear that. And I’m saddened by that response. So, yeah, again, that’s why I wanted to bring you on to share some light about the field. Do you think it’s getting worse, though? I mean, you’ve been in the field for a while. It is.
Jane Frankland (26:24)
Yeah, I do. I was chatting to a guy about this actually recently just messaging on LinkedIn, and he was saying the same thing. I do think it is getting worse, but that could be because I’ve been doing this for so long and I’ve been hearing it for so long. My experience is that there’s a lot of lip service being paid towards it, virtual signalling. People have endless amounts of time just to do more and more meetings, and they can extend for a year or longer. Budgets aren’t being set aside. If any investment is being made into this, it really is on looking, I think, the part in terms of their reporting and things like that, and maybe websites so that they can look as if they have women. Maybe they’ll get a woman speaker in and maybe they’ll do a women’s network. But like I said, from my experience, the budgets, the investment, that’s not that. It’s just tomorrow, tomorrow, tomorrow, or, Yeah, we can’t do it, or our budgets won’t be drawn, or this person’s left, or whatever it is. It’s not a high priority for them at all. They just want to look as if it is.
Jane Frankland (27:38)
And they want to get up on stage or promote themselves as being a company that invests in women. And they don’t. They don’t.
Yeah. Okay. I want to get into the virtue signaling. I’m a walker, not a talker. And I think there are people that do this for, like you said, lip service. I think it’s y our related as well. So how can we tell if a company is being genuine in what they’re saying? Because you are right, anyone can get up and say, Oh, I believe in gender diversity, and this and that. And then an hour later, he’s having a go at someone at a conference. It doesn’t quite add up. Is there certain things that you noticed that maybe would indicate that a company is disingenuous?
Jane Frankland (28:22)
Well, I don’t know if I would notice it. I mean, from my interactions with them, I would because how long does it take them to book a meeting? I had one company, a bank, it took them eight months. In fact, two companies, eight months to get a meeting. And then with one of them, they canceled the meeting 20 minutes before. No reason, just canceled it. And so for me, it really is speed. What priority are you giving to this? Knowing budgets and things like that. I’ve interacted with people and they’ve just been like, I don’t know, can you propose for this? I don’t know what our budget is, but can you just give us this, this, this? And it’s just like, how can you not know what the budget is? I mean, that’s just ludicrous. It really is. So yeah, there are too many time wasters. Too many time wasters.
Yeah, I hear what you’re saying. And I think that, again, a number of people, it’s very easy to get up there and say something, but are you practicing what you preach at the end of the day? The answer varies, but probably may be more no. So I’m curious now, okay, what can people start doing? Let’s get into solutions, get tangible results. I mean, I’ve spoken to men about it as well. I think some of them maybe are unsure or maybe they don’t get the buy in for what you said. So I really want to hear from you, Jayla. What can people really to give, I guess, get an outcome, to make the industry better, to actually encourage other women to work in this space? Go for your life.
Jane Frankland (29:59)
Yeah. First of all, read my book. I mean, Microsoft said it’s the only book that actually tells you what to do. So that’s just a no brainer. And I don’t get rich from my book, literally at all. But read my book. That’s a great start. Again, I know so many people that haven’t read my book, but pretend that they have. And again, we’ll get on the stage and things like that. Read my book and be open to the possibilities. That’s number one. I’ve got a 47 page report, which is an assessment. So if there’s a company or a leader there who’s interested in this, they can take that assessment, they can take that quiz. They can engage me or have a discovery call with me and see if we’re a good fit and then engage me. I mean, that’s another thing that they can do. It depends, as for other measures and things like that, it really depends on… I mean, there are just so many, but it depends on the person, who they are, what their position is at a company, what their appetite is, how much time they’ve got. Most people, when you talk about this, will always bring up schools and education and let’s get into a girl’s school or go and speak to children, specifically girls and things like that.
Jane Frankland (31:17)
And that’s all great. And it really is. And that does make a big difference. It really does. But it’s not going to make a fast difference. It’s not going to help in the immediate future because that takes time to come about. And also if that’s not sustained, then those young girls can drop off and go off and do something else like law or teaching or whatever it is, music or drama, whatever it is. So that has to be sustained. So it really does depend. It depends on where they’re at, how much time they’ve got, and their responsibilities. So going.
Back to the accountable side of things now, a few years ago, a really great friend of mine, he’s in the industry, and I posted a video. And this man who isn’t even in our field, to be honest, completely different field, not cyber, and he said, No one asked you woman. I didn’t see it, but other people did. And then I saw it. And the thing that got so crazy about this story, and this was going back maybe three years ago, people started saying, I can’t believe you said woman on it. What’s wrong with you? And you got called out. Long story short, he then tried to call their switch numbers and a bunch of emails saying, Oh, someone stole my laptop, wrote that. And then the comment was edited to say, Carissa instead, to, I guess, appease the comments beneath it, which was like, Why do you have to refer to her as a woman? It’s ridiculous. And long story short, a friend of mine in the space actually doxxed him online. He goes, I don’t normally do this, but this is really unacceptable. And the amount of people that just piled on. I never heard from that guy ever again.
I actually couldn’t remember his name, where he worked, but he sent a bunch of emails saying, Can I please speak to Karissa? And I was thinking, No. Why am I going? Because now you’ve been publicly shamed, I’m now not going to waste any more time speaking to you to give me a fabricated story that someone stole your laptop to then edit a comment and then they stole it again. I just don’t believe it. I wasn’t born yesterday, and this is the crazy behavior that’s happened. And then I think as a result, I think the guy was a bit rattled that he was held accountable. Now, I don’t like to publicly shame people, but I’ve seen people say, If this was a person that’s done this, we should know who they are. What are your thoughts on that?
Jane Frankland (33:58)
No shame, no shame. no blame, just better business. That’s how I try to be. Even with the code of conduct, with the events, that went through lots and lots of lawyers and a lot of participants. And we all said, no shaming or no list being compiled and things like that. And I know there are event organizers who have done that. Certainly on Twitter, I called in the cavalry. So I got some really hardcore people who were like, they were taking them down. And these are brilliant people and really smart and just literally had a field day with some of these trolls, for want of a better word. So I didn’t shame or anything like that. But you do need support. And I had people when I was being attacked online who came to me privately and said, Look, are you okay? I’m really sorry that I can’t comment. I’m frightened. Or my boss might see, or a lawyer has advised me not to do this, and so on. But I want you to know that I’m thinking of you and I want to check that you are okay and you’re coping okay. So I think shaming and I don’t like shaming at all.
Jane Frankland (35:24)
I always seek first to try and understand. And I know some people can be vile and have and horrible and dangerous, but I always try to understand. And I think if you’re shaming, then you can literally put fuel on the fire. So I don’t think it’s the right thing to do. But you’ve got to do what you think is right.
Yeah, I’m definitely of the same opinion. I think that, again, I think that this whole person’s story was just a complete lie. And I think people were over it and were less like, No, we’re just going to expose this person. And like I said, I haven’t heard from that guy since. I couldn’t remember his name anyway. So if I walked past him in the street, I wouldn’t know it was him. So I think that it’s no real right or wrong way. I think that I’m mindful and I’m cognising of how other people treat other people online. So for example, if someone comments on your post that wasn’t friendly, I would probably be mindful about what they potentially say to other people because I think it shows people’s true colours. But how they interact with other people online as well.
Jane Frankland (36:29)
I did contact some employers as well. It’s just like, do you want your brand associated with this language, this behaviour? So just alerting them to it. And like I said, one of my friends in Australia, the first time it happened, she got in contact with the company. That wasn’t me, I was just copied in. So we can all be supportive of one another and come to each other’s aid so that we’re not struggling on our own. And we can do the right thing by certainly alerting companies. Because if this is happening on social media, like LinkedIn or Twitter, this is what we do. You can just do a search and find out, Well, who is this person? Most of the time and deal with it with our employer that way.
Yeah. And that’s the other thing that I’ve always found interesting over the years. We can see who you are and where you work and what your position is. And I think in the past, people have been called up by the HR saying, Why are you doing? It doesn’t set a great image for the company. And I mean, you don’t have control over what people post online. But if someone’s going around and putting malicious comments on people’s posts for no real reason, it’s awful. And it reflects badly on them as an individual, but also company as well. And it’s something I’ve never quite understood. I also think as well, with comments and people asking me, How do I handle it on social media? You can be very polite professional, but I think you can be firm as well. I’ve politely pushed back on people online to be like, You completely took out of context what I’ve said, or no, you should probably listen to the whole thing first before making an assumption. And I think it necessarily needs to lay down and let people walk all over you. But I think there’s a fine line between being polite professional and then you don’t want to tip over into the other side of just being, I guess, highly emotional and reacting to their awful comments.
Jane Frankland (38:24)
I would definitely agree. I mean, I’ve seen things blow up because people… In fact, it was men. It was men being emotional with one another. And that really was awful. But again, everybody loves a bun fight. It’s just like, I’m getting Pop corn, which is usually what people say. Or if it goes on, sometimes I’m alerted. It’s just like, Jane, have you seen this? or Check this out, or whatever. People watch. And so you do have to handle things in a professional manner because people are watching and they are looking to see how you are handling it. But equally, silence is very powerful. So sometimes actually not responding and letting it go is the right thing to do. But you have to feel your way through it, I think.
Yeah, most definitely. So when you said before, women’s voices are being silenced, what do you mean by that?
Jane Frankland (39:18)
Well, it’s literally they’re frightened to say things. So whether it is online commenting, whether it is at their organization, if things are happening. It’s just like, Well, what’s going to happen to me? Because there may be a story that they’ve heard at their organization or somewhere else about a woman who has spoken up about inappropriateness or bullying, or too much work, or whatever it is, and they’ve got fired, or they’re now being watched very carefully. So it’s almost like a mock against them. Oh, she can’t cope, or she’s asking too much questions, or she’s causing trouble. So they can keep quiet. It’s just like, no, just pick your battles. Don’t say anything. Don’t speak up. You’re a target. You’re a minority anyways, so you stand out more. So all of that goes on online, on social media, and outside of it as well. So do you have.
Any advice, maybe for people, women who are listening that is there anything that they can take away from today’s conversation that they can yield for themselves to ensure that they have a level of resiliency or any information that they can take after listening from you today that some of the struggles that they may have in the industry or within their manager or internally?
Jane Frankland (40:50)
Well, it’s firstly, I think for them to know that they’re not alone. So these troubles are there. So many women go through them. And that’s why I think having a women’s network is really useful because these stories can be shared and advice can be sought. So it’s not simply a case of, well, these women only networks are really good for career development and things like that. Yes, they are. Research has found that a woman can advance two and a half times as fast if she has access to a female network, an inner circle of women where she can ask questions privately and safely, as well as having another type of network which is far more buried and isn’t gender specific. So, yeah, it’s to know that they’re not alone to speak to other women and to have to speak to their mentor if they have one. Or they can always engage a coach if they want to do that. But really it’s speaking making up, it’s speaking up. It’s speaking to someone about this, and certainly not gaslighting themselves, not making themselves wrong because it’s so easy for that to happen. And the industry makes us wrong so much of the time.
Jane Frankland (42:11)
For example, women don’t apply for jobs. So it’s women’s fault. Women don’t speak up. It’s women’s fault. Women don’t take enough risks. It’s women’s fault. Women just have to take more. Women are never enough. So that’s a message that we as women hear so much. We’re either too much, too aggressive, too ambitious, too technical, or not enough. Not technical enough, not ambitious enough, not wanting that leadership position enough, not speaking up enough, not going for it enough, or whatever it is. So you’re damned if you do and you’re damned if you don’t. And I think that women just knowing these stories and knowing that they’re not alone, that can be quite comforting. It’s not okay. It’s literally like, Okay, this is how it is now. I’ve got to deal with it. So I think that can help. So yes, having that support system, that’s the number one thing. Having that support system. And that could be from anyone. It doesn’t have to be from women. There are so many great people out there. There are guys in my network who are absolutely fantastic, so supportive. I learn so much from them. Not just about the industry, but about behavior and whatever.
Jane Frankland (43:31)
So really, it’s having a strong support network. And I would add having a women’s network in addition.
So how can the industry support you, Jane, in what you’re doing and the beliefs that you foster and your values?
Jane Frankland (43:47)
It can actually start investing in me because I’m just really tired of companies coming to me and wanting free advice. So it’s just that I produce so much. Podcasts, videos, blogs. I’ve got a whole… I mean, even this year, I just did a quick count the other day as to my contribution talks. There is just so much that I do for free. So if a leader, say, is really wanting to change the situation, then they can come and have a meaningful conversation with me expecting to invest money and not get something for free. Because this is something that happens again with women, were asked to do more, take on another job, or to do something for free because that’s just the stereotype. So yeah, if a company, a leader, wants to have a meaningful conversation about this and get that transformation that they want. They can invest in me in the work that I do and not expect to get the advice, the consultation, consultancy for free.
So, Jane, thank you so much for coming on the show talking about a real issue that exists in the market and being very forthcoming about it because I think it’s something that does need to be addressed and it does need to be heard. So thank you so much for your time and your insight today.
Jane Frankland (45:14)
It’s my absolute pleasure. Thanks, Karissa. Thanks so much for having me on.
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