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Diversity in Computing 2011: Richard Tapia Conference

“You, who represent two worlds, should use both to move forward.” This year’s Richard Tapia Diversity in Computing conference started off with thoughts from the founder.  Richard Tapia is a mathematician and professor in the Department of Computational and Applied Mathematics at Rice University in Houston, Texas.  He is, among other honors, the first Hispanic elected to the National Academy of Engineering.

The conference focus was to bring forth traditionally underrepresented students in computer technology and create a welcoming environment to have technical discussions as well as to provide networking opportunities.

We were pleased to have Mei Wang represent Cisco at the Doctoral Consortium on Sunday. There were several of us at Cisco who attended to recruit students and listen in on some of the sessions.

Cisco Giveaway Fan
This year’s booth giveaway. You know you’re talking to computer scientists when the first thing they ask is: is the fan reprogrammable?

The panel and speaker topics ranged broadly. I heard that the speakers were asked Read More »

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Recognition and Implementation

In Laura’s previous post, How we plan to use Cisco’s Reverse Mentoring programme to encourage Inclusion and Diversity, she talks about several aspects of the Reverse Mentoring programme, such as having an internal and external focus, the importance of being people -centric, and that the real benefit lies in the programme being win-win. For these very reasons, and many more, Cisco Belgium caught the eye of A Great Place to Work and won a Special Award for Diversity.

Many people across multiple industries are recognising the importance of Inclusion and Diversity and leveraging it to create the aforementioned win-win situations. Most recently Nicola Mendelsohn, incoming IPA president, highlighted the merit of diversity within the advertising industry in her inaugural speech on April 6 2011, but the cross-industry relevance is clear:

“Diversity of background fuels tension and creativity, and we must fight continually to ensure that the industry never becomes a place of bland conformity.

However, the answer to greater diversity does not just lie in attracting fresh graduates. That is why I would like to explore ways that we become an attractive home for those who want a mid-career change.

Some of our best, most creative people came from outside the industry.” Read More »

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How we plan to use Cisco’s Reverse Mentoring programme to encourage Inclusion and Diversity

Last week, I shared with you some of the great work Cisco is doing in Europe to drive our Early in Career Network (ECN) – one of our employee resource group  that focuses on Cisco’s new hires and people who are early in their career at Cisco. Initiatives like ECN are vital in helping us promote a more inclusive work environment and diverse work force worldwide.

Another initiative that Cisco’s Inclusion and Diversity Ambassador Network is helping to drive is Reverse Mentoring. This is a formalised program where an executive or senior manager is mentored by an individual contributor in the company. In other words, our individual contributor (the Mentor) is mentoring an executive (the Mentee).

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Inspiring people, inspiring minds

I have a favourite quote that I re-read every time I’m feeling a little lack lustre and needing inspiration. It’s by Eleanor Roosevelt, and says: “The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience.”

It’s such a positive and empowering statement that you can’t help but feel that anything is possible if you put your mind to it. Inspiration really does come in so many different forms and through different people.

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More together, more often

How easy it is to get caught up in what we see as the challenges and pressures of our own lives and lose a little perspective. Or worse still create a false perspective. But then every once in a while, amidst our personal whirlwind something happens to make us stop and reflect on where and who we are. And just maybe to prompt us to re-calibrate ourselves in some way – to regain lost perspective or recognise a change that’s needed. That catalyst might be something up-close and personal like a relationship issue, something a little further away like a colleague who falls ill, or even something seemingly un-related to us a world away.

Last Friday that catalyst for me was the massive earthquake and the ensuing tsunami in Japan. For me – no doubt like millions of people around the world – it brought out a range of emotions:  shock at its scale; horror at its brutality; sadness for the lives lost; gratitude for my situation and family; amazement at the Japanese people’s resolve and calmness; and of course empathy.

Indeed it’s very often during times of adversity that our identification with and understanding of anothers’ situation grows and we intuitively focus on what brings us together, rather than what separates us. We feel a certain ‘connectedness’. Not only with Japanese communities around the world, but every community – from the local to the international –  to instinctively understand that at this moment we can and must strive to achieve more together.

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