Diversity and Inclusion in the Workplace
By Marilyn NagelDirector, Human Resources, Worldwide Diversity and InclusionGood ideas come from everywhere. It’s a simple idea, but the concepts behind it -diversity and inclusion -are not only close to my heart, but are also a part of my full-time responsibilities at Cisco. My name is Marilyn Nagel, and I am a director in Cisco human resources, responsible for worldwide diversity and inclusion. At Cisco, we have a great diverse workforce and our efforts are focused on ensuring we all work in an inclusive environment. For example, our goal for employees with disabilities is to not only provide them with the right tools and resources, but also to educate all employees on how to work with people with disabilities.To provide some further context, I’d like to give some background on myself.I have a background in both education and organizational development and organizational change. I have two masters degrees -yes, I really do like school that much, and as long as I am capable of doing so, I will continue to frequent workshops, seminars and read tons of great books and articles on the topics of diversity and inclusion. I’ve been a diversity officer in prior roles, and had diversity as a component of previous positions. My personal connection to diversity and inclusion comes from several experiences. I grew up being Jewish in a community that wasn’t always welcoming -I remember some of the inexplicable and horrendous acts that occurred -such as rocks being thrown at me as a child. I have in-laws who were concentration camp survivors. I recall the countless stories told to me of their lives in the camps and their escape to the United States after the war. My daughter is a lesbian, and she lives with her partner and two beautiful children. Even though they live in Northern California, they still encounter prejudice regularly. I myself have a disability that impacts my hands. All of this has given me a strong respect for the issues of diversity and inclusion and the challenges we face dealing with acceptance of who we are based on our differences. Here’s the good news – I’ve been in this role for a year now and my team at Cisco has made some remarkable progress. While this is definitely a “progress not perfection” journey, it is important to mark the milestones along the way. One of the areas we are very proud of is the development of the Cisco Disability Awareness Network (CDAN), CDAN employee resource group and the advisory group for people with disabilities. The mission of CDAN is to promote an adaptable work environment which enables business benefits to Cisco and its disabled customers, partners, employees, suppliers and communities. The eight-charter CDAN members are crafting a global plan to offer chapters in San Jose, Research Triangle Park and the European Union. Duncan Mitchell, the executive sponsor of CDAN, formed a People With Disabilities advisory board to prioritize and take action on topics brought forth by CDAN. The global advisory board consists of 11 leaders who are agents for change in the functional area of the company they represent. As a first-time blogger, I am both excited and eager to engage in a dialogue with you all around the concepts of diversity and inclusion.This is an exciting time for Cisco. We have the reputation for putting together collaborative technology solutions by leveraging the human network -now is the time to extend this to the core of our company -our employees.