We had a fabulous time launching at Identity Week, in case you hadn’t noticed from our twitter feed. A huge thanks to all of you that attended, and of course to our sponsors. In amongst the action, we grabbed 5 minutes with a few of our members; Ellie, Francesca and Sam, to hear why diversity in the industry is important to them.

Ellie Stephens, Jolocom
Why do you think diversity is important in the industry?

Technology that is built for everyone should be built by everyone. In the identity sector, we often deal with highly sensitive personal information, and highly futuristic – and at times unexplored – technologies that have the power to radically shape the way people live their lives. As such, it’s important that we get a diversity of perspectives on the products we put out into the world, in order to ensure that they take various needs and access points into account, and are truly able to act for all people and without bias.

Further to that point, technological advancement has been historically realized by white men. More room needs to be created for others to share in these accomplishments. In order to do that, I think it starts at the bottom. Something as simple as hosting inclusive panels can go a long way. From my own experience as a non-white female-identifying speaker, I get a lot more questions from the women and people of color in the room and, as an attendee, I can see why. It feels safer. That’s why it’s important to up-skill a range of people, to make sure we’re creating inclusive solutions that work for everyone, and so that everyone can share in the technological breakthroughs and have an opportunity to benefit from the successes.

What technology/trends do you see at the forefront of identity over the next few years?

I work for Jolocom, so naturally I’m a sucker for Self-Sovereign Identity – SSI for short. I believe that it is incredibly important that we solve the current disaster that is online identity management. Right now we have too many passwords, receive too many creepy ads, get too much spam to our inboxes, and we’ve all seen how much of our data has been leaked in recent years and how, like in the case of Cambridge Analytica, this can have far-reaching consequences. Coming from a background of activism in countries where civic space is severely restricted, this ability to control who sees your data is even more critical. In countries with heavy surveillance, leaked data can cost you jail time, or worse.

I think decentralised platforms are the way forward, and have seen in my work as a comms manager, that this idea is gaining wider acceptance – though it’s still quite a complex topic. Communicating exactly how it works and why there’s a need for it is probably the biggest hurdle I’ll face in my work.

Find Ellie on LinkedIn or @EllieStephens5

Francesca Hobson, Ubisecure & Sam Wakefield, Consult Hyperion
Why do you think diversity is important in the industry?

Aside from equal opportunities being fundamental to a fair society, a diverse workforce also benefits organisations.

There is a well-documented shortfall of cybersecurity professionals, that includes the subset of those who focus on digital identity. We need all demographics to be able to fill that gap if we are to keep ahead of the bad actors and meet the evolving market’s expectations around identity management.

We’re also creating technology and tools that have to work for all demographics, so it doesn’t make sense to have a limited workforce behind them.  It’s been proven again and again that diverse workforces are more productive, as they’re more likely to think about all approaches to problem-solving and creativity.

What’s the biggest challenge women are currently facing in the identity industry?

Often we can come up against old fashioned attitudes that women aren’t as capable of certain tasks, although that is constantly improving.

The issue of confidence (or, at least, perception of confidence) should not be underestimated, as this has a knock-on effect on how much air time we get. For example, you don’t see as many women talking at conferences, so there’s clearly not enough encouragement or outreach from the event organisers in taking to those platforms.

What technology/trends do you see at the forefront of identity over the next few years?

Digital transformation is impacting how seriously service providers are considering improvements to user experience, security and privacy. We see this trend evolving identity into very specific domains around individuals (both employees and customers), organisations (companies, social groups) and things (IoT for example).

Those technology companies taking the time to understand the domains, how they interact, and at which point effective digital identity management can improve the user experience, security and privacy, will be the ones who will succeed. For example, taking privacy seriously, regardless of whether GDPR starts handing out fines just yet.

The way the world interacts today has never been so complex, so we need to ensure we protect the integrity of these interactions but also ensure we make it as easy as we can for end users.

Find Sam and Francesca on LinkedIn.

Women shaping the future of the identity industry

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