Cisco Black Employee Network (CBEN)
Inclusion and Diversity is fundamental to the culture and success of Cisco because we believe an inclusive and diverse workforce fuels collaboration which drives innovation which helps us meet our customers’ needs. One of the resources we have at Cisco to help us to do this are our Employee Resource Groups (for more information about ERGs please see Jacqueline Munson’s post) and one of these groups is our Cisco Black Employee Network (CBEN). Recently I had the pleasure of interviewing Modupe Rouse from CBEN to find out more about CBEN and the opportunities it presents at Cisco.
Laura: So Modupe, can you please explain what the Cisco Black Employee Network is and its vision?
Modupe: The Cisco Black Employee Network is a global employee resource group with chapters in the US, EMEAR, Nigeria and South Africa. Our vision is to be Cisco’s valued resource for new market opportunities in the global Black community and for engaging top Black talent for Cisco’s leadership pipeline. In addition to this vision it is extremely important to understand that we are inclusive of the global Black communities.
Laura: Thank you. The company has been through a great deal of change over the last couple of months as we transition to the next Cisco. What do you see as CBEN’s role in this transition?
Modupe: CBEN can reiterate the important message that change is difficult for everyone but we must continue to remain focused on the company’s key initiatives and continue to leverage the resources such as the ERG’s which help employees continue to develop, collaborate with one another and find new ways to positively impact the business.
Laura: Has CBEN engaged with Cisco’s customers, partners and stakeholders to make a difference?
Modupe: Certainly! Some of our CBEN volunteers recently mentored a group of students from the Gwinnett School of Mathematics, Science and Technology, as part of their Senior Capstone Experience program. We guided this group as they learned about Cisco technology and designed the “device of the future”, which could be used for mobile communications, entertainment, learning and e-wallet capabilities. Similarly, CBEN has taken on leadership/mentorship of student teams with the Junior Achievement (JA) Fellows program, teaching them business and entrepreneurship principles, as they launch their JA sponsored companies. These teams meet for two hours each week at a Cisco facility, and leverage the CBEN members’ business experience as they seek develop and market environmentally friendly products. CBEN has begun meeting with key executives within The 100 Black Men of America, at both a local and national level, to explore opportunities to partner with The 100 in their mentorship efforts, as well as to see how The 100, or the companies at which their members work, could make use of Cisco technology. Finally, CBEN members have had preliminary meetings with local media industry professionals, to see how they can leverage Cisco collaboration technology to deliver remote experiences to consumers.