White Ops mulls new name to dissociate from systemic racism

US-based cybersecurity company White Ops is changing its name in order to dissociate itself from systemic racism against Black people. In a blog post, Tamer Hassan, CEO and co-founder of the company, said its name now "perpetuates a toxic association of good and bad with color and race", as compared to its original intention which is a reflection of its mission to combat cybercrime. According to Hassan, a new name has not yet been chosen, but the company has started the rebranding process. Hassan added that he is confident its new name will "more sincerely represents the company and the values of the people".

Additionally, Hassan said the company has established a diversity council that includes people from all parts of the company to build a roadmap of initiatives. He added that the early work of this council has established regular and ongoing diversity and inclusion training for the company. 

"While education and awareness is a reasonable start, we must push well beyond that. I feel strongly about managing the funnel for hiring with more rigor around diversity and inclusion. Tracking funnel diversity metrics by stage in the hiring process is a start, something that we implemented in our recent open roles for the executive team, and will extend to all hiring going forward," Hassan added in his blog post. 

White Ops is not the first company to change its name amidst the increasing racial tensions in the United States. Last month, Mars Food changed its Uncle Ben's brand name to "Ben’s Original". According to its press release, this reflects the brand’s ambition to create a more inclusive future while maintaining its commitment to producing rice.

The release added that the company is also committed to removing the image on the packaging to create more equitable iconography. The original brand image featured a Black person next to the name. Besides changing its name and image on the package, Ben's Original also said it is taking action to enhance inclusion and equity and setting out its new brand purpose to create opportunities that "offer everyone a seat at the table".

Separately, another brand that features a Black woman beside its name, Aunt Jemima, said it is removing its image from packaging and changing the brand name. According to its website, this move is in line with its parent company PepsiCo’s journey toward racial equality. Additionally, Ramon Laguarta, CEO of PepsiCo said the company will be launching a more than US$400 million set of initiatives over the next five years to lift up Black communities and increase Black representation at PepsiCo. According to him, these initiatives comprise a holistic effort for PepsiCo to walk the talk of a leading corporation and help address the need for systemic change. 

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