Photograph of laptop computer and additional monitor with the words word hard anywhere, all sitting on a wooden desk with a lamp and plant, to demonstrate working from home arrangements, the latest trend in privacy careers.

Trends in Privacy Careers: Moving to Greater Flexibility

We have been monitoring privacy careers via privacy jobs advertised in Australia for almost three years. During this time, we’ve noticed some interesting changes: privacy roles are becoming more specialised, employers are increasingly seeking candidates with privacy certifications and, now, we’re seeing movement towards greater flexibility for privacy professionals. 

Background: Privacy 108’s Job Market Analysis 

As part of our ongoing research into the state of the Australian privacy profession, Privacy 108 analyses the privacy job market, comparing on-line job adverts at a point of time each quarter from December 2018 to June 2021.1  For each ‘snapshot’, we collect details about privacy jobs advertised on-line via Seek.com.au and Indeed.com.au.  Job listings provide a useful glimpse into how both private and public sector organisations value privacy, the resources they are willing to commit to developing and managing privacy programs and building their privacy maturity. 

This post is based on recent data we collected in June 2021. 

Location Flexibility for Privacy Professionals 

Since we started collecting data, we’ve noted that most privacy roles advertised in Australia would require applicants to live in (or relocate to) a capital city, with Melbourne and Sydney advertising most frequently.  

Here’s the job location data from the December 2020 reporting: 

Map of Australia with numbers showing how many privacy jobs are offered in Sydney, Melbourne, and Canberra

This is starting to change. 

In our analysis of privacy jobs posted in June 2021, the number of jobs where the location was listed as ‘flexible’ increased, with 4 positions offering location flexibility. 

‘Flexible’ privacy careers data 

Out of the 33 privacy positions advertised in June 2021, there were 4 (or more than 10%) which would allow the successful candidate(s) to choose from multiple work locations. 

The advertised positions offering location flexibility included the following: 

Employer  Role  Possible Locations 
Wesfarmers  Lead – Data Privacy, Ethics and Governance  Melbourne or Perth 
Australian Managed Service Provider (MSP)  Back up/Data Protection Engineer  Sydney, Melbourne or Brisbane or work from home 
BOQ  Compliance Partner – Privacy  Brisbane, Sydney or Melbourne 
Aruma  Privacy Officer  Flexible location at our office locations in VIC, QLD, NSW and ACT 

 

Two of the roles we’ve identified as providing flexible options also referred to working from home.  In addition to the Aruma job, the MSP position specifically offered a work from home option or, in the alternative, the choice to be based in the Sydney, Melbourne or Brisbane Aruma office. 

As we can see, most of these roles require privacy professionals to be located in a capital city, in most cases on the east Coast. However, the fact that candidates are occasionally being given a choice is a movement away from what we’ve seen employers offer in the past – and it may herald increased location flexibility into the future.    

Are there particular industries that lend themselves to location flexibility for privacy professionals? 

From the data, no particular employer or industry presented itself as more likely to support flexibility in terms of working locations.  However, there were some sectors where flexible working was not an option. The different industry sectors represented by the flexible jobs did not include State or Federal government agencies.  This may be a result of private employers responding more rapidly to changes in working norms. 

Similarly, there was no job role that presented itself as more likely to be able to done from flexible locations.  Both junior and more senior roles were offered with flexibility in terms of where they were located. 

What about flexibility in terms of scheduling? 

While not specifically referring to work from home, many advertisers either expressly stated that they offered flexible working or were a supporter of flexibility. 

  • Wotton + Kearney, a legal services provider to the Insurance industry, advertised a position for a Cyber, Technology & Privacy Paralegal.  The ad highlighted that at Wotton + Kearney ‘All roles are flexible, we encourage work/life integrations.’ The ad also referred to the organisation’s ‘diverse and collegiate, open, innovative, passionate’ culture, where ‘relationships are the cornerstone of our business and we put our people first.’  Wotton + Kearney also give back to the community and encourage staff to join in their CSR activities’ to support our charity partners, from building houses in Cambodia, participating in fun runs or baking cupcakes, there’s a way for everyone to contribute.’ On top of that, the candidate will also be rewarded with an unspecified but ‘competitive’ remuneration package. 
  • Rabobank, looking for a Privacy Risk Analyst, referred to its inclusive and positive working environment and open culture ‘where you can be yourself and be valued for who you are.’ Part of its offer, in addition to career development, insurance over and bonus annual leave, is ‘flexible ways of working.’ 
  • KPMG stressed its commitment to flexibility as part of the KPMG difference, in its ad for a Melbourne based Manager – Compliance and Conduct (Privacy): ‘Our commitment to˜Flexibility™ allows our people to manage the changing demands of work, personal or family life.  
  • QBE, looking for an associate privacy counsel, offered a range of benefits to help provide holistic support for QBE employees’ work life, including Hybrid Working a mix of working in the office and at home to enhance your work/life balance. 

Other employers stressed the need for flexibility in candidates as one of the requirements for applications.  For example, RSM included in its wish-list for candidates that they  be ‘Flexible and adaptable and capable of changing direction where required and showing flexibility to meet new demands.’  AMP was looking for a Senior Manager – Privacy and Integrity with the ‘courage and agility to navigate changing and complex environments so that we can deliver the best solutions for our customers.’ 

What does this mean for privacy careers? 

There’s no doubt that the COVID pandemic has fundamentally changed the way we work.  In Australia, with major cities still regularly going into lock-down and many workers being forced to work from home, there seems to be a growing acceptance of working from home or, at the very least, from an office convenient to the job applicant as the new normal. 

This move should broaden opportunities for privacy professionals, particularly those located outside a major city.  Although most privacy jobs continue to be in Sydney, followed by Melbourne, there seems to be growing opportunities outside those locations, perhaps opening up privacy jobs at least in the private sector to a far broader group.   

Perhaps, don’t celebrate too soon. 

For privacy professionals seeking location independent roles, a more than 10% increase is certainly cause for celebration. However, the vast majority of advertised privacy jobs continue to be in Sydney.  

Jun-21
Sydney    14
Melbourne     7
ACT     7
Brisbane     1
Flexible    4
Total   33

It also remains to be seen whether remote work arrangements will continue once the pandemic ends and we enter the next normal. While there is plenty of research emerging about the benefits of a remote workforce, and the arrangements do seem to be strongly preferred by the majority of workers, the idea of long-term remote work has not received universal executive buy-in. With much of senior management hoping to bring the workforce back to the office ‘at least four days per week’, this trend may not linger long.  

We will keep an eye on location flexibility in future reporting and keep you appraised of any movement towards or away from increased flexibility.  

Finally, remember the importance of cybersecurity when working from home. 

We’re sure you’re aware of the cybersecurity and privacy implications of working from home. But, to reiterate, remote work – including working from home – comes with unique risks and challenges. As a privacy professional, you need to be alert to these. If your organisation isn’t acting in line with best practices, you should work to develop and implement stronger internal practices.  

Click here for our blog post on cybersecurity minimum standards when working from home. 

Your Career as a Privacy Professional 

To read the complete June 2021 job report, follow this link: [COMING SOON]  

To jumpstart or boost your career in privacy, consider attaining a privacy certification. As we outlined, more Australian employers are seeking experienced candidates with a relevant privacy certification.  

Privacy 108 is a leading provider of privacy training in Australia. Our lead instructor, Dr Jodie Siganto, is recognised as one of Australia’s foremost privacy experts. Find out more about the courses we offer here.