D&I is the Cyber Security Risk

James Felton Keith
4 min readOct 29, 2021

OpEd published on 10/12/2021 at the Association of Independent Agents

Over the years, the language of “diversity” has evolved from its origins in the 1980s which were rooted in Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. The diversity between every individual is just a fact of reality. That evolved to talk of equity and economic inclusion, which again evolved to trying to define inclusion in the corporate spaces of the 2000s, which has now evolved to a conversation about creating a sense of individual belonging within growingly complex organizations.

In 2021, in short, “D&I” stands for diversity equity inclusion & belonging. We should get used to thinking about all four of those concepts from here on. That is how the authors of the new International Standards Organization (ISO) understand the diversity industry of old, if we can call it an industry at all. This past May, the ISO published a new guidance standard for D&I across the 163 nations that participate at the ISO. If you are not familiar this organization has been standardizing how we interact since the end of the second world war. They’ve created consensus standards on everything from the tangible ways in which we move water and oil to the seemingly intangible ways we measure process quality control.

It might seem ironic that as we seek inclusion of the other than normal, we’ve created some normalcy in how we seek it. It’s a communications problem that will always exist, as long as we are evolving into the messy collective of professionals that we will be tomorrow.

That stated, I’ve spent nearly 20 years in engineering and technology management, looking at a lack of inclusivity from a personal data standpoint. One thing that I’ve noticed is that our institutional products and services have become more synonymous with our consumer markets’ identities. Further, that people’s data or people’s decisions are becoming synonymous with risks, including cyber security. Lastly, a lack of belonging or D&I at the organizational level leaves every kind of organization vulnerable to cyber security penetration. As every industry has to use technology to deliver goods at the speed of 2021, our people’s commitment to our mission becomes increasingly critical to managing our financial and legal risks.

James Felton Keith

CEO, InclusionScore | Author, DISM for ISO-30415 | Professor, UGA Terry College of Business | 1st Black LGBT Person for US Congress