“Ambition is not a bad word.” Working Mother Media held its 9th Multicultural Women’s National Conference in New York City on July 19-20, 2011. Over 700 women and men gathered for a conversation on race and gender. For the third year in a row, Cisco Systems was honored as one of the Top Companies for Multicultural Women, and for the second consecutive year as one of the Top 5 companies in the US.
Randall Lane accepts Cisco’s Top Company for Multicultural Women award from Carol Evans, President of Working Mother Media and CEO of Diversity Best Practices. Used with permission from Working Mother Media. Photo by Steven Easley
Accepting the award for Cisco was Randall Lane, Senior Leader, Global Inclusion & Diversity. I asked him to share a few thoughts from the event.
You’ve represented Cisco at the conference for three years now. What does this conference consistently offer every year? It’s a safe environment to have candid Q&A. There are panels of successful women that model behavior and no holds are barred from a topic standpoint. The value of the conference is new perspectives and ideas. Build your network.
Any specific tips on networking?
If the word networking makes you uncomfortable, don’t call it networking. It’s about creating relationships. At panels and sessions, exchange business cards around the table. [In the main hall] don’t sit at your company-sponsored table with your co-workers. Network [even] with people you don’t like.
Session breakout discussions at Multicultural Women’s Conference 2011.Used with permission by Working Mother Media. Photo by Steven Easley
This is the third year you were asked to be a coach in the conference session: “What Men Don’t Tell Women about Getting Ahead – And What Women Don’t Ask For.” What were some of the themes that came up this year?
We talked about the fear factor with new opportunities. Women doubt themselves and they think very hard about things. It may not be necessary.
We also spoke about surrounding yourself with people who know more than you do. Keep an open mind about where the knowledge transfer can come from. Information about roles, companies, and skills can come from someone junior to you. For all cases on mentoring and sponsorship, learn how to pay it forward.
What advice did you give to the women in your coaching group?
Authenticity: be who you are. Don’t behave like the guys do. Some women have done this to great success but the world is changing. Be yourself.
Jose Van Dijk of Cisco Systems featured in Working Mother’s Multicultural A-ha Moments
About Working Mother Multicultural Women’s National Conference
The 2011 Multicultural Women’s National Conference is a place where women of high potential and achievement from all races/ethnicities come together to explore, link and leverage their strengths for workplace success. For more information, click here.
About Working Mother Best Companies for Multicultural Women
The Working Mother Best Companies for Multicultural Women initiative is intended to promote the interests of women of color in corporate America by recognizing companies that are successful in bringing minority women into professional and leadership positions. We celebrate the achievement of progressive organizations and publicize the policies and programs that can help other organizations succeed as well.
The 2011 Working Mother Best Companies for Multicultural Women application includes nearly 300 questions on representation; hiring, attrition and promotion rates; recruitment, retention and advancement programs; and company culture. It surveys the availability and usage of programs, as well as the accountability of managers who oversee them.
For more information and the list of this year’s 23 winning companies, click here.