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My experience at the Grace Hopper Celebration 2012


My first encounter with Anita Borg Institute (ABI) was hearing Telle Whitney, the CEO of ABI; speak about the need to empower women in technology at the Cisco Women in Technology Forum (WITF). I was impressed by her talk and the years of research and work in this important area. When I was invited to attend the ‘Women of Vision’ Awards by ABI, I was thrilled to reap dual benefits of getting inspired and charged by the award recipients and their stories and at the same time doing my bit of being a role model for graduate students eager to join Cisco. Attending the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing (GHC), this year held in Baltimore, MD, seemed like a natural course of action for me.

The theme for GHC this year was “Are we there yet?” a question that everyone should ask themselves whether for personal goals or a larger cause.. GHC did a wonderful job to address this theme and spread it across many seminars and talks. There were multiple sessions aligning different tracks like Industry, Security, Academia, Early Career and Social Collaboration, happening at the same time, so the GHC app on my smartphone came in very handy to pick out the sessions of my interest. The app also provided details on schedule, location and bios of the speakers.

Here are my key takeaways:

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Singing in the Rain

I know that we English tend to obsess about the weather, but please indulge me for a moment.

The terrible summer we’ve had in the UK got me thinking this week about rain – and about acid rain, in particular.

Acid rain is a term coined in 1872 by Robert Angus Smith but came into popular use in the 1980′s as the broader population began to understand the damage it can do and the gradual impact it has.  The harm it causes is incremental and cumulative. Take a look around any of the world’s cities and you will see its insidious, silent and on-going effects on the corroded façades of buildings, or the worn faces of statues. No one notices it. No one thinks about it as it falls imperceptibly, leaving devastating and irreparable damage in its wake.

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Cisco at Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing

September 25, 2012 at 2:51 pm PST

At the Grace Hopper Cisco Booth in 2011

The Cisco team is gearing up for the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing in Baltimore, Maryland!  The conference, from Oct 3-5, is presented by the Anita Borg Institute for Women and Technology and the Association for Computing Machinery. Cisco is a Platinum Sponsor of the event.

58 Cisco employees will speak, mentor, participate and recruit at the conference. We are the third most represented company at GHC. Additionally, we have Cisco leaders exchanging ideas and sharing best practices at the Sr. Women’s Summit and the Technical Executive Forum.

If you’re looking to connect with us at GHC,  Read More »

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How to demonstrate Inclusion in 5 Simple Steps

Last week, I gave an internal talk to our Cisco Inclusion and Diversity Ambassadors on “How to demonstrate Inclusion in 5 Simple Steps”. I am a firm believe that Inclusion and Diversity is not what I call an “extra-curricular activity” but is an inexhaustible tool that should be woven into every aspect of our culture and all of our interactions at Cisco, both inside and out. Read More »

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Take a Chamce on Me

I read a really interesting piece referencing work by Fariborz Ghadar, director of Penn State’s Center for Global Business Studies. He makes the case for sourcing and nurturing talent from different talent pools. From broadening outreach efforts and relationship to find top candidates across all dimensions of diversity, to training for managers in inclusiveness and objectivity to ensure they expose new talent to a full array of experience and opportunities, Ghadar argues that companies that fail to leverage and nurture diversity in their employee base: “will find themselves poaching talent to offset scarcities in the quantity and quality of talent in their narrow pipelines.”

Many of us often pride themselves on our ability to think outside the box.

But does this extend to how we think about talent within our workforce? When we make assessments about who is suitable for a role, do we consider the full array of functions where talented people with transferable skills could bring value and difference to our teams, regardless of whether they might take a little longer to come up to speed? Or do we simply look for people who are an easy fit?

Or to put in another way: when you make decisions or assessments of others, are you aware of your biases or of the filters you might be applying? And do you ever challenge them?

To put it simply, continuing to do the same thing with the same people might well see us miss out on new and different results.

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