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Honoring Leadership: Advocating for Team Members with Disabilities

Two Cisco leaders were just recognized with high honors for their advocacy of inclusion and diversity at Cisco and within the community – leadership that champions the needs of our team members and friends with disabilities.

Greg Akers, senior vice president of Advanced Security Research and Government, and Mayte Cubino Gonzalez, a technical services manager in Belgium, are co-recipients of this year’s Diversity Best Practices “Above and Beyond” award from the Network & Affinity Leadership Congress (NALC). The NALC Diversity Award for Affinity Group Leadership is given to “individuals whose grit and determination has led to the creation, success and/or turnaround of their network/affinity group.”

One of Cisco’s key business objectives is to recruit, retain, and empower diverse, top talent through a culture of inclusion, diversity and collaboration. As members of the Connected Disability Awareness Network (CDAN) at Cisco, Greg and Mayte have made tangible progress towards this goal. Through their work on global workplace accessibility projects and initiatives, they are empowering people with disabilities and creating awareness of the unique perspectives disabled people bring to the workplace. 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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Stand Up Against Bullying with Ben Cohen – Nov 9

“Every person on this planet has a right to be true to themselves, to love and be loved, and to be happy. I encourage others to stand up with me and make a difference,” says Ben Cohen of Stand Up Foundation.

Ben Cohen

The Ben Cohen Stand Up Foundation, Inc. is the world’s first foundation dedicated to raising awareness of the long-term, damaging effects of bullying, and funding those doing real-world work to stop it. The foundation’s mission is to stand up against bullying for any reason. Because Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgendered (GLBT) people are often targeted by bullies, the foundation gives particular attention to this community. Removing homophobia from sports is also a central part of the mission.

The Cisco Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgendered and Advocates (GLBT&A) Employee Resource Group(ERG), together with the Cisco Disabilities Awareness Network ERG, are bringing Ben to the Cisco San Jose campus on Wednesday, Nov 9 at 3pm as part of Cisco’s Inclusion & Diversity Speaker series.

Ben Cohen is an England Rugby World Cup champion, and among the world’s greatest athletes. He ranks second in all-time scoring for England, and he’s the first straight professional athlete to focus his philanthropic efforts for the benefit of the GLBT community. He is also clinically deaf.

Bullying in our schools is a real problem. It disrupts the classroom and Read More »

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Inclusion and Diversity Best Practice: 1:1 Computer Training for handicapped people from Procap


One of the reasons why I enjoy working at Cisco is because of our commitment to Corporate Social Responsibility. Recently, I have been helping to put together this year’s UK & Ireland CSR report and I have to say, I have been moved and truly touched by the dedication and enthusiasm of Cisco employees to give back and make meaningful change to our local communities. From mentoring young offenders to helping orphaned children in Africa, they are engaging the power of the human network to change the way the world works, lives, plays and learns for the better.

Read More »

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Disability Matters with Pamela Dirks Burke

This spring, Cisco hosted the Disability Matters Conference at company headquarters in San Jose with Springboard Consulting and Northrop Grumman.  I sat down with Pamela Dirks Burke, the Cisco lead organizer, to find out what her team did to prepare:

If someone was preparing to host a similar event, what should they know?

When you host a conference centered around disabilities, you have to build-in assistive technologies rather than respond to requests.  For the Disability Matters Conference, we arranged for CART (Communication Access Realtime Translation) technologies, a real time captioning service, as well as sign language interpreters.  There were multiple digital displays that displayed the captioning, the interpreters and the speakers.

What are the subtleties around arranging these aids?

You want to find transcriptionists and interpreters who are familiar with the meeting subject matter–particularly if it’s technical or if there are a lot of acronyms.  For Disability Matters, Read More »

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