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Open Doors

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.

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So…Where ARE the Women in I.T.?

In 2005, The Anita Borg Institute for Women in Technology published a report entitled “Where are the Women in Information Technology?”  Six years later, we’re still asking that same question—the focus of an article this week in Bloomberg/Business Week. Shockingly, the article reports that although women hold about half the jobs in the U.S. economy, they represent less than 25 percent of science, technology, engineering and math positions. Ultimately, we need to not only stem the flow of women leaving the industry, but also leaving the associated fields of study in college.

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?

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Veterans Corporate Technology Day at Cisco – Oct 18, 2011

September 19, 2011 at 9:35 am PST

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.:

  • San Antonio, Texas
  • Research Triangle Park, North Carolina
  • Englewood, Colorado
  • San Jose, California
  • Herndon, Virginia
  • Lawrenceville, Georgia

Related Posts:

Cisco’s Inclusion & Diversity Blog: Transition from Military Service to Civilian Life

Cisco’s Platform Blog: Supporting New Opportunities for Veterans

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Deaf and a diplomat

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.

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Lessons Learned: Successfully Implementing the ERG Progression Model

The Cisco employee resource groups (ERGs) help reinforce the Cisco goal of having employees bring their “total self” to work, fostering a more inclusive, collaborative, and innovative environment. The ERGs play a key role in supporting the Cisco business initiatives by uncovering marketing needs, exploring areas of potential growth, and creating meaningful dialogues that lead to business opportunities.  By valuing the differences that make each person unique, these groups can increase Cisco’s competitive advantage and increase profits.

To assist ERGs in becoming stronger business partners, we worked with Jennifer Brown Consulting to create the ERG Progression Model. This model enables ERGs to assess themselves, their work and their evolution as organizations.

This new framework allows ERG members to:

  • Actively engage on the ERG strategy and action planning process by identifying next phase structural and competency goals
  • Increase engagement by building competencies of ERGs to support recruitment and retention of diverse employees
  • Expand ERG capability to insert into new markets and related adjacencies
  • Establish a tool and process that balances structural needs with individual ERG autonomy

It is always a challenge to develop and implement a new method among established organizations. To ensure a smooth adoption at Cisco, I incorporated three key tactics: Read More »

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