Industry Workforce Solutions (IWS) provides training, positions small companies to leverage resources and join U.S. supply chain
Small businesses need opportunities in larger sectors, and those supply chains need the diversity smaller companies bring. Minority-owned small businesses have additional challenges getting into the pipeline, yet they are perhaps the group that needs to be there the most.
At the same time, earning a spot in this competitive ecosystem can feel overwhelming for smaller companies trying to meet the strict protocols required of large corporations and the federal government.
Achieving cyber readiness is a critical first step that can help companies find their way into those contracts. IWS is a consulting firm that specializes in preparing businesses to achieve Cyber Maturity Model Certification (CMMC), an important cybersecurity milestone and soon a requirement from federal agencies.
To be eligible for government contract set-asides, small businesses ought to be shaping up their cybercrime defenses to protect their business. Sixty percent of small companies close within six months of an attack, as reported by Cybercrime magazine, and the estimated cost of one data breach is roughly $3.62 million.
One organization that has taken action to fill this gap is the National Minority Supplier Development Council (NMSDC), an advocacy organization focused on correcting unequal access to wealth-building opportunities.
In order to bring critical cybersecurity readiness to its 15,000+ certified minority business enterprises (MBEs), NMSDC has partnered with IWS to help their minority business enterprises (MBES) with cyber awareness and readiness training. The training, a five-week virtual program called “CyberReadyMBE™,” is offered to certified MBEs at no charge, except for a highly recommended gap assessment that will provide the MBE with a national designation.
The first opportunity for NMSDC’s certified MBEs to take advantage of this program begins September 13, with its National Cyber Summit 2022, followed by four modules and a cyber gap assessment. The program is supported in part by corporate sponsors GE, Bank of America, and Truist Financial Corporation. More opportunities will follow through 2023, and in the future, the consultants of IWS intend to offer the training to other groups.
One unique feature about this training is the direct relationship-building that comes in the latter modules of the training. After addressing the protocols a business needs to have in place, and how to structure the personnel required to maintain cybersecurity, the experts will provide one-on-one opportunities for the small businesses to interact, giving them the necessary guidance to become cyber ready.
Matt Burkett is on the roster of professionals who will speak to the MBEs, providing a session about how to do business with the U.S. Navy. Burkett serves as deputy director of small business at Naval Surface Warfare Center, Crane Division, a U.S. Navy federal laboratory.
He says the U.S. Navy buys more than $12 billion in goods and services each year from small business partners. Among the most crucial first steps, he says, is making sure the company meets cybersecurity requirements, a must to even be considered for government contracts.
Doreen Gonzalez-Gaboyan, president and CEO of IWS said, “Our long-standing partnership with NSWC Crane has given us an understanding of the needs of Department of Defense and the Navy and allowed us to build courses like CyberReadyMBE™ to help address cyber-ready supply chain issues that are aligned and relevant.”
Burkett says small and minority-owned businesses have much to gain from becoming cybersecurity ready.
“Who are the businesses that typically struggle with cyber requirements and becoming compliant to work with us? Oftentimes, it’s the small businesses. They are thinking about ‘how do I perform successfully? How do I buy the product or service that is needed in an efficient and cost-effective manner?’ That is typically what they are thinking about, rather than, ‘am I cyber compliant and ready to do business with the federal government?’ ”
Burkett said the importance of cyber readiness cannot be overstated, especially when it comes to government acquisitions. And, sticking with the complex process is worth the investment because of a limited pool of cyber -compliant competitors.
“We have to make sure the contractors are safeguarding the information they have,” Burkett says. “To have knowledgeable people with valuable information on what being cyber ready means can set you apart from others who work in the government space, but aren’t willing to take the steps that you are about to. It is important because a lot of our large Department of Defense (DoD) suppliers and our DoD industry partners are requiring their small business subcontractors to be cyber compliant,” Burkett says.
To learn more about becoming CyberReady™, visit industryworkforcesolutions.com.
About Industry Workforce Solutions
Industry Workforce Solutions, Inc. brings together the brightest minds in business, government, and academia to address the cyber and workforce maturity issues that inhibit the nation’s supply chain resiliency. The collective expertise of these players is key to solving the nation’s supply chain gaps and related cybersecurity issues. IWS is dedicated to ensuring small- and minority-owned businesses play a critical role in protecting the nation’s data and security. For more information, visit industryworkforcesolutions.com.