EC-Council Blocks Women in Cybersecurity After Sexist Survey

Sat 10 Apr 2021 10:06:24 PM EDT

In April, 2021, EC-Council posted a survey on LinkedIn as part of a promotion for a webinar that asked "What according to you are the most common challenges faced by women in the cybersecurity domain?". The three answers are not a poor attempt at humor, we know based on subsequent apologies, and it is no surprise it angered many. Inverted Goldfish and Alyssa Miller were the first we saw to call EC-Council out for it. Miller asked if "all of these answers intentionally wrong" and plainly called them for what it is: "The issue is ACTIVE discrimination, toxic behaviors in the tech industry, and systemic forces that push or keep women out."

After a screenshot of the survey was shared on Twitter, negative feedback of EC-Council ensued, unsurprisingly. EC-Council's response to the criticism was baffling. Rather than stay quiet or apologize for the sexist, misogynistic survey, they decided to block women whom had criticized them & called them out. That included blocking Maddie Stone, Alyssa Miller, and Inverted Geek, as well as unfollowing Snubs. Ray Watson noted that five of his friends were blocked, yet he was not, and offered a clue as to what all of the blocked Twitter accounts had in common. Watson was not the only one to criticize EC-Council, many did over this incident and for years before. Michael Kavka spelled it out very clearly in a tweet as did Rik Ferguson which further illustrates the pattern. Miller called them out for this behavior in contrast with her reminder that the "imprudently worded social survey" was intended to promote a "women in technology" webinar.

After a healthy round of criticism, EC-Council opted to post their apology in a reply to Alyssa Miller. However, they did not post the apology as its own Tweet, did not pin the Tweet, and did not send the apology to many others who offered criticism. This led to further criticism of trying to bury the apology. The reply to Miller started "On behalf of the EC-Council team, we would like to apologize to you and all those affected by the unintended consequence of this poorly worded survey. This is on us - thank you for bringing this to our attention. Attached is our official response."

Founder and CEO of EC-Council, Jay Bavisi, followed suit by posting his own apology to LinkedIn instead of Twitter. In it, he blames the original survey on an "over-eager team member" who "panicked" and responded by blocking people. This is not accountability; it is throwing the proverbial intern under the bus which seems to be the trend.

Predictably, this apology did not go over well for some. Alyssa Miller and Karl Ots replied to Bavisi saying that the apology was not "holding yourself accountable at all", pointing out they had deleted the original LinkedIn post, did not post the apology to LinkedIn, and had not posted the apology as a separate message in their Twitter feed. Inverted Geek pointed out that it took almost 24 hours for EC-Council to apologize to a single person, calling it the "literal bare minimum".

In Bavisi's apology, he said that he would reach out directly to each person who was blocked. Miller Tweeted asking if those who were blocked had heard from him as she intends to hold EC-Council to this claim.

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