Speaker: Marnie Wilking, Global Head of Cybersecurity & IT Risk Management, Wayfair
Why is Women’s History Month important to you?
Marnie Wilking: Women's History Month is a great time to reflect and celebrate the incredible women who have paved the road for all of us to get to where we are now. Women like the suffragettes, computers, codebreakers, lawyers, leaders of countries. All of them push through barriers both physically and figuratively, so that we could stand where we are now. At the same time, it's an opportunity to point out that there's still a lot more work to do. Women have not fully achieved the equality and inclusion we deserve, and we all have a responsibility to find ways to carve more paths for the next generation.
What is the most important diversity goal for women in your organization?
Marnie Wilking: To me, the most important goal is inclusion. It is so important for everyone to feel like they belong and that they're bringing their strengths and their best and whole selves to work. And that they don't have to pretend to be something or someone else to fit in. We tend to say the phrase diversity and inclusion as if one automatically comes with the other. You can have diversity goals, but if you aren't creating inclusion and encouraging inclusive language and thought, you will not be able to maintain diversity in your organization.
Which woman in history has inspired you the most, and why?
Marnie Wilking: This is such a hard question, because there are so many. But I'm going to pick a group, the Women Code Breakers of Bletchley Park. I sort of fell into cybersecurity as my career, and my very first role was in cryptology. I loved it, and I wanted to learn everything I could. One of the first books I read was about the codebreakers during World War Two at Bletchley Park near London. I learned that more than 75% of the 10,000 people at Bletchley Park who were working to break the Enigma machine were women, many of whom in the 1940s had degrees in mathematics and linguistics. And in fact, the first message that was decoded was cracked by two women, Margaret Rock and Mavis Lever. I was hooked. A few years ago, I had the opportunity to visit Bletchley Park. And it was truly like walking on hallowed ground for me. Following the footsteps of these incredibly smart women who gave up years of their lives to come to this small village. And most of whom never broke their oath of secrecy (unlike some of their male counterparts). History notwithstanding, there are so many amazing women I have the privilege of knowing and working with who inspire me every single day. And I am grateful for their friendship, mentorship and support.
What is the biggest challenge for the next generation of women?
Marnie Wilking: The post Millennial generation is the most diverse generation yet. And that diversity is absolutely influencing their thoughts and actions. This upcoming generation tends to have a very different and much more inclusive way of looking at differences like race, gender identity, sexual orientation. I really encourage this generation to take the opportunity to bring that inclusive, diversity-embracing nature into the workforce, into the executive suites and boardrooms and really make a significant impact on what diversity and equality look like for themselves and for generations to come.