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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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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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The Power of Interconnected Partnerships – Internally and Externally

Conexion Badge updated2I have always been a passionate believer in The Power of Partnerships to improve diversity in the talent pipeline, the workplace and leadership positions at enterprises everywhere. My experience shows that partnerships must be formed both within the enterprise and outside of it in order to make a real impact on diversity.

This has been made more obvious to me in the last month than at any other time in my 20-year business career. The Power of Partnerships – both internally and externally – can make a difference, and I’ve seen that difference accelerated when these partnerships interconnect to advance Hispanic  representation in the high-tech industry.

For example, on Oct. 21, Conexión, the Latino Employee Resource Organization (ERO) at Cisco, recognized its corporate history of progress, innovation and impact with a Cisco TV broadcast featuring presentations by Cisco leaders such as Guillermo Diaz Jr., Cisco’s CIO; Shari Slate, our Chief Inclusion & Collaboration Officer; and, Maria Dincel, a Marketing director who oversees Cisco’s sponsorship of the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. We also invited Gina Rudan, a Leadership Coach at Google, who inspired everyone with her insights on how each of us can unleash our “inner genius” by combining our specific skills and experience with our unique passion in life. Read More »

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