Some time ago now, when I was a teenager, I was told a shaggy dog story. For those who haven’t heard of shaggy dog stories, they are purposefully longwinded tales that play upon the preconceptions of the audience. The audience listens with certain expectations which in the end are either not met or met in some entirely unexpected manner challenging the audience to check how they think.
I won’t take up this space and your time telling a full length shaggy dog story but I will recount the gist of the story to highlight the preconception that I’m afraid I was guilty of as a teenager and still sometimes fall into the trap of now.
A girl is lying in a hospital bed having had a serious accident. So serious, in fact, she has to remain in hospital for a good while. She is visited by many people: Her friends, the doctor, the nurses, her father, her teachers, her brother and her sister, each of them bringing her get better soon gifts and asking after her well-being.
When the tale comes to a close the narrator says: Didn’t this girl receive a lot of visits? Then asks: How many times did her mother visit, can you tell me?
You stop. And think. And decide to say: Well it’s a bit tricky counting up all of the mother’s visits because there were so many visits altogether, too many to keep track of the mother’s. But then you think, actually I don’t think the mother visited at all. Yes, that’s right. The poor girl didn’t get one visit from her mother. How could that be?
I’ve been doing a bit of Googling recently on the subject of community inclusion, motivated initially by what I heard people saying about causes of the riots that shook the UK this summer.
I was away from the UK when the riots took place but certainly felt the nation’s confusion upon my return. Politicians, journalists, academics and community leaders alike struggled to articulate and agree on the causes and solutions.
The confusion, of course, isn’t surprising, since there is never just one cause of civil unrest easily pinpointed and eradicated. But what has surprised me is some of the labelling that’s been used, one phrase in particular really making me sit-up with shock.
Sunday evening, at a fundraiser dinner, a friend of mine who works for another technology company raised this same question. Looking around the room, she pointed out several of the brightest minds in technology, who happen to be women, and questioned why they weren’t more visible within their organizations and within the industry. Clearly, there’s an opportunity for our industry to make a big shift, but what will it take?
On October 18, 2011, Cisco Systems will host Veterans Corporate Technology Day (VCTD) which brings U.S. military personnel, spouses and caregivers to Cisco campuses and exposes them to resources that are available as they potentially transition to the civilian workforce.
The multi-site event introduces mentorship programs and educational resources. There will be a sessions on the GI Bill/ Vets Benefits and Futures Inc’s online career path and job resource center called “Pipeline.” Cisco veterans and executives will share testimonials about their own transitions and attendees will have an opportunity to tour Cisco facilities such as labs, the Network Emergency Response Vehicle and the virtual Executive Briefing Center.
The event builds on the first Cisco Veterans Corporate Technology Day held last year at Cisco’s Research Triangle Park campus in North Carolina. The Veterans Enablement and Troop Support (VETS) employee resource group hosted 30 soldiers, spouses and caregivers from the Ft. Bragg Warrior Transition. The day was a great success with many rewards for all parties involved. Click video below to hear from participants of last year’s event:
This year’s Cisco Veterans’ Technology Day will take place on October 18, 2011 at the following Cisco locations in partnership with Wounded Warriors Project and Futures Inc.:
It wasn’t something I’d ever considered before, disability in the diplomatic service, because I unfortunately, like most people, have quite entrenched images of what a diplomat looks like. So I marveled when I heard that a female diplomat who was deaf had risen through the ranks.
But unfortunately whilst the story starts there, it isn’t where it ends.
Jane Cordell worked in the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) from 2001 and in 2010 was offered the post of deputy head of mission in Kazakhstan, only to have the offer revoked when the FCO decided that making adjustments for her disability would be too expensive. They deemed the cost of her posting was beyond the “reasonable adjustments” which employers are obliged to make for disabled staff.
But I wonder if they’ve overlooked the value they’ll be missing out on, given the extra abilities and commitment Cordell’s disability generates.