Kick-starting inclusive culture in startups

Presented at Diana Initiative 2017, July 27, 2017, 7:30 p.m. (30 minutes)

With so much recent bad press about the culture in tech startups, you may be thinking you’d never want to work in one! But early-stage startups can offer a unique opportunity for you to help define the culture of the company you work in.

Find out how a cybertech startup in London has invested in culture from day 1 and how it’s female employees have leveraged this environment to create their own initiative to raise awareness of, and tackle, gender issues. This initiative is three-fold: 1) work to ensure the working environment is good for existing female employees, 2) connect to women in similar startups to share ideas and support one another 3) actively try to recruit more women.

Hear about what’s been tried and tested - and what’s worked! You’ll come away with some ideas to try at your company including simple suggestions to open up dialogue and engage allies internally, as well as increasing your influence by reaching out to other women. This talk aims to convince you that you can have influence and inspire you to exert it!


  • Leila Powell
    I have spent my whole career working in male-dominated fields (first astrophysics, now infosec) and have always believed that the gender imbalance was not just “one of those things” but a symptom of a system that disadvantaged women. When I joined the infosec industry 2 years ago and attended events where there were maybe just one or two other women I found it incredibly disappointing – so these days I am being more proactive in trying to redress the balance. There is no question in my mind that women can excel at infosec jobs, so we must remove the blockers that stop them joining, or staying in, the industry. On an individual level, careers in areas like infosec (and other technical subjects) where women are in the minority, are intellectually stimulating and very rewarding and I don’t want other women to miss out on these opportunities. On a societal level, cyber security in particular is an area that women, as a group, should not miss out on having a say in. Something that is becoming so fundamental as our lives are lived increasingly online, should not be influenced by just one section of society. From the other perspective, the industry itself would be stronger with a more diverse talent pool. As far as I’m concerned, getting more women into infosec is win-win. I have spent my whole career in male-dominated fields, tackling complex problems, first as an astrophysicist and now as a security data scientist. Now I've got my sights set on the toughest challenge yet - redressing the gender-imbalance in infosec! I'm currently working with my colleagues at Panaseer to create an initiative for women in the London cybertech startup scene.


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