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What’s YOUR Mantra?

“Put your oxygen mask before others.” I have heard this mantra again and again this year in different women’s conferences and seminars.  And this was the first message from Adam Grant, the opening speaker at last month’s Massachusetts Conference for Women (CFW).

This seems logical if you think in terms of plane emergencies. If you are able to breathe, you can help the person sitting next to you, whether they’re family, friends or anyone else who needs help. In day-to- day life, this holds true too.Mantra1

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Creating Value in Cisco’s Supply Chain through Diversity

This post was written by guest blogger Unni Nair, manager for Cisco’s Supply Chain Sustainability and Diversity.unnair

As companies seek better ways to connect with and compete in markets all around the world, having a diversity mindset plays an increasingly important role. Cisco’s supply chain is particularly relevant to this focus because, as one of the largest and most complex supply chains in the world, regions, cultures, communities and customers can be connected through our business operations. When these connections are valued and nurtured, it underscores a company’s committed path to inclusion and diversity.

To better leverage diversity across operations, an inflection point came in 2014 as Cisco began an ambitious initiative to transform its global supply chain operation. Many programs and ideas, like diversity, helped ignite this transformation. Within a year, Cisco was named #6 on Gartner’s 2015 Supply Chain Top 25. According to Gartner, the future of many companies will depend on their willingness and ability to rethink their supply chains and evolve.

Supplier diversity can play a powerful role and serve as a strong competitive advantage for businesses – especially supply chains – as it opens new channels to access skills, provides resiliency, promotes inclusiveness, broadens partnership opportunities and offers an abundance of viewpoints needed to solve today’s complex challenges. We believe business is strengthened, as diversity boosts our social license to better understand and successfully operate around the world.

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Diversity programs can, and should, invigorate business simply because they obligate organizations to be bold when forming and maintaining partnerships. A strong procurement process helps to shun complacency and boost alternative methods, identify products or services that can enhance the business and breathe in new ideas. As Cisco continues to track progress, data, and trends in supplier diversity, it has become clear that digitization represents a significant opportunity that has the potential of future success.

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Preparation, Optimism, Goodness: 3 Pearls of Wisdom + 1 from the Conference for Women (2015) in Philadelphia

Have you heard the expression, “People don’t remember what you say, they remember how you made them feel?”  Last week, I had the opportunity to participate with more than 8,000 women (80 from Cisco) — in a one-day conference sponsored by Cisco Systems, Inc. and other companies.  There were many amazing speakers who shared their stories of perseverance, optimism and goodness.  I don’t recall everything these presenters had to say, but I certainly remember how they made me feel.  Here are just a few of the great pearls of wisdom from the event.Carli Lloyd_soccer star

Preparation – It’s what defines champions. @CarliLloyd

Carli Lloyd is a star on the U.S. Women’s National Soccer team, a two-time Olympic gold medalist and Most Value Player (MVP) of the 2015 Women’s World Cup champion.  She was always the best player on each of her youth soccer teams, but when she reached the collegiate level, she knew she had to step-up her performance if she was to be a leader.  It was her personal coach who told her she needed to not only improve her soccer skills and game technique, but also her character.  Ouch!  This was tough feedback to accept.  Her coach was wise enough to give Carli this needed correction, but also hope and a goal:  If she Read More »

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Catalysts for 10x Innovation (Part 1)

“Why does a computer need a fan? I want my computer to be quiet and small!” Steve Jobs actually provoked that question when he started the journey that led to the creation of Apple II nearly four decades ago.  And, of course, the journey made history and continues on into new frontiers of technology.

Asking an unsettling question that breaks the status quo – in any era – is one of the key catalysts to ignite innovation exponentially. This is especially true today because of the unprecedented levels of innovation made possible by the digitization of society through the Internet of Everything – the connection of people, processes, data and things.Cisco Leadership Forum_Biren presenting

A provocative question that turns things upside down gets the innovation journey under way.  However, it’s just one of many key catalysts we have identified from extensive research and experience that accelerate innovation 10 times or more.

My colleague, Hagit Oron, and I recently had the honor of conducting a highly engaging workshop – Innovation Catalyst – at Cisco’s bi-annual Leadership Forum, an event series tailored for people leaders.  Igniting innovation is one of our company’s highest priorities as we transform from a hardware product company into an end-to-end solution provider delivering business outcomes to customers in vertical markets.

Encourage Inclusive, Diverse Culture. First, we emphasized that leaders must foster a climate of innovation with their full teams – not just by hiring a few outliers – but as a collective team to solve problems and develop new products and services. That means assembling teams with a full spectrum of diverse backgrounds, skills, perspectives and approaches, enabling them with the right tools and resources as well as empowering them to innovate collaboratively. Read More »

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Changing the Equation

It’s been a little more than a year since we created Cisco’s first Office of Inclusion and Collaboration (OIC).   And it’s been a milestone year.  Today, we’re releasing our annual Corporate Social Responsibility report (CSR), which details Cisco’s high-level priorities for being socially and environmentally responsible, and I’m honored to share the highlights of our progress within Our People section of this amazing document.  As a critical part of Our People Deal, Inclusion and Collaboration are featured prominently in the report.  I invite you to dive in and understand what we’ve accomplished in FY15 and how we’re changing the equation for creating value moving forward.CSR Photo1

What does it mean to change the equation?  For Cisco and the OIC, it means we continue to expand our view on the factors driving inclusion, diversity and collaboration.  It means we leverage fresh perspectives, thought leadership, and data and analytics to gain new insights. It means we use those insights to inform bold new strategies.  We change the way we talk about inclusion, diversity and collaboration, the way we measure our progress, and the way we connect our business strategies and our inclusive practices. And we align with a higher vision of value creation in the work we do to drive transformation through our people.

A Foundational Year with Milestones. Changing the equation was a top priority in this first, foundational year for the OIC. We began by looking at the legacy work of the Global Inclusion & Diversity (I&D) function we were transforming, including over 400 well-intentioned programs designed to support diversity and inclusion across our company.  And while we recognized the progress made through those programs over the years, we knew that more programs would not result in more impact or move us forward in our higher vision of value creation. Read More »

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