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Preparing Girls for Success Beyond School

“Doing great work means getting applause from some authority figures and criticism from others.” Tara Sophia Mohr’s recent article on the Huffington Post titled “The Dark Side of Girls’ Success in School” discusses how the skills needed to succeed in the workplace are often very different from the skills needed to succeed at school.

Mohr suggests the skills that girls master to succeed in school—“respect for and obedience of authority, careful rule following, people-pleasing and succeeding in an externally imposed framework” —are not the skills needed to be a leader, change-maker or innovator. Although girls now outperform boys in almost every subject at school and at almost every level of education in the US, that same level of success isn’t necessarily reflected in many workplaces.

She goes on to say, “To blaze a trail, women and men need to know how to experiment with their ideas when they are imperfect. They need an ability to take considered risks, challenge authority and respond to criticism with a thick skin.”

The article points out that boys are more likely to acquire these kinds of skills from their family and peers and having these skills is supported by male images in the media and popular culture.

Girls, Mohr states, are “learning a different story from the media and from school itself Read More »

Suffering in Silence

I was invited to attend the 20th birthday bash of the Employees’ Forum for Disability in London recently.  The host was Ruby Wax, a popular UK comedienne.

I didn’t know this prior to the event, but she has battled with repeated, severe bouts of clinical depression for many years.

Depression is one of the most silent, least visible afflictions that people can experience.  And the enduring stigma attached to mental health issues means that many people suffer in silence.

Read More »

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Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month

May is the Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month. For those who aren’t familiar, the Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month in May commemorates two major United States events in the Asian American and Pacific Islander history –The first group of Japanese immigrants arrived in America on May 7, 1843 and the transcontinental railroad (thanks to the labor of many Chinese immigrants) was completed on May 10, 1869.  The month of May–to celebrate the Asian-Pacific American traditions, culture, and history–was officially designated by the Congress in the 1990s.

It is June and although this seems a little belated, technically speaking, every month or day for the matter should be a celebration of whatever your heart desires–whether it is your family and friends, your culture, your favorite band… you name it! For Cisco, everyday is a day of inclusion and diversity, and it is evident in Cisco’s extensive efforts in supporting more than 10 different Employee Resource Groups (ERGs), participation and sponsor for world-wide inclusion and diversity events, and so much more.

At the Cisco Asian Affinity Network’s (CAAN) Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month celebration event on June 6, 2012, I learned that Cisco is recognized by Asia Society as a finalist in three different categories for the 2012 Diversity Leadership Forum Awards: (1) Best Company for Read More »

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People With Disabilities Are Some of the World’s Most Influential

It’s estimated that approximately 10% of the world’s population has some type of disability. This makes people with disabilities not only the world’s largest minority, but also one of the most influential – the community is estimated to have an annual purchasing power of $220 billion in the US, $25 billion in Canada and £80 billion in the UK alone. That’s more than enough money to buy more Facebook stocks than the company can offer.

There is a clear business opportunity for companies who can create solutions to address this market in the race for top talent. There is also a clear advantage for companies who are able to Read More »

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Chief Diversity Officer Sandy Hoffman on Diversity and Technology

I had a moment to chat recently with Sandy Hoffman, Cisco’s newly appointed chief diversity officer, and we spoke about her new role:

What does a chief diversity officer actually do?

At Cisco, I see my role as providing strategic leadership across the company on recruiting, advancing and retaining talented people in our multinational and multigenerational corporate environment. Additionally, I’ll partner with the business on embedding inclusion and diversity into existing business processes, improving the effectiveness of employee resource groups, and supporting supplier diversity.

What challenges/opportunities do you see for diversity in technology companies right now?

The changing business landscape indicates that by 2020 the workplace will be dramatically different. In order to remain competitive, companies need to create a workplace that is diverse and inclusive, adaptable, virtual, and global.

Technology companies in particular are facing challenges in the Read More »

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