Key figures in the information security industry have made a collective pledge to raise awareness of and help address racism and racial inequality within the sector.
The #VersusRacsim pledge is led by several well-known individuals from the infosec community and has four key principles:
- To actively support black people
- To actively support people of color
- To promote equality, respect and equal opportunities for all
- To improve and celebrate true diversity in our teams
The pledge comes at a time of significant social unrest with ongoing global protests as part of the movement – a campaign that seeks to end all forms of racism and calls for equality for people of color.
Speaking to Infosecurity, the #VersusRacism collective, said: “We want to help the information security community be really clear on its collective position on racism. We also want to help our community play its part in putting an end to this inequality and injustice.
“We want to help the information security community be really clear on its collective position on racism”
“This is, in part, to elicit commitment to thought and action, but it is also to encourage others to do the same.”
A Clear Mission
The #VersusRacism mission is clear: to communicate, educate and instigate change around racism and racial injustice within the information security industry.
“This isn’t because the industry is especially racist – it is because, as a society, we have a long way to go and there is more that we can all do to ensure that racism can’t breathe within our spheres of influence,” the collective explained. “We care passionately about the cybersecurity industry – it is generally full of people that want to protect other people and make the world safer for all. Taking a stand on racism and helping to eradicate racism is one way we can do that.”
“Diversity and inclusion, of all groups in society, is important in terms of fairness, representation and talent”
Racism exists in almost all (if not all) industries at present, the collective added, and the cybersecurity industry is no different.
“Of course the issues are complex and far from straightforward but the fact remains that any racism or discrimination is unacceptable.”
The Right Thing to Do
The issues of diversity and inclusion across the information security industry – which has traditionally been criticized for having a distinct lack of both – have been significant topics of discussion in recent years. Many organizations across the sector have begun taking steps to address such issues – with particular focus on the stark gender imbalance of those working within the industry – but there is still some way to go to truly tackle the various matters of diversity that negatively impact the field, with racial equity an important factor.
“Diversity and inclusion, of all groups in society, is important in terms of fairness, representation and talent,” said the collective. “Firstly, it is the right thing to do, the fair thing to do. It is also important because it provides representation and role models. When different groups can see themselves reflected in an industry, individuals from those groups may be more likely to pursue a career in it themselves.”
“A lack of diversity and inclusion in security means we have less talent and skill than we could have”
Furthermore, diversity and inclusion is important because it enables us, as an industry, to be the best we can be, the collective continued.
“As the social entrepreneur Leila Janah famously said: ‘talent is equally distributed, opportunity is not.’ A lack of diversity and inclusion in security means we have less talent and skill than we could have, which makes our industry, our organizations and our countries less secure than they could be.”
The Power of Collaboration
The #VersusRacism group’s determination to make a difference and bring about change is clear – and it believes that the power of collaboration is essential to succeeding in its mission.
“We can combine our voices and support whilst also encouraging those who want to contribute, but feel unsure in their knowledge of how to help or who may be feeling weary and alone in their day-to-day struggle. By uniting behind a shared vehicle such as this pledge, we can drive change across the industry.”
The #VersusRacism collective therefore fully welcomes support and input from the industry.
“In an ideal world, security professionals and companies that agree with the pledge will make this support public and then follow over time with an articulation about how they are going to play their part. Of course, words and pledges are only a step; the real positive change happens when this is backed up by action.
“We have lots of ideas on the about things people and organizations can do to help eradicate racism and create a more equal and just society for people of all races.”