“This trip was worth everything I left behind for it. Now I have 36 sisters.” Thekra Dwairi is one of 37 women to participate in the inaugural TechWomen program funded by theU.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA). The programpaired women in Silicon Valley with their counterparts in the Middle East and North Africa for a professional mentorship and exchange program at leading technology companies.
Cisco had the honor of hosting the closing session for this 5 week program at its San Jose, CA headquarters. Each of the mentees presented their key technical and cultural learnings as well as their action plans for when they returned to their home countries: Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, West Bank and Gaza.
Loubna Haouam discusses her goals upon returning to Algeria: exchanging knowledge, encouraging women to learn English and providing computer access
The mentees ranged widely in terms of their backgrounds. Some work for international corporations, while others are local start-up founders. Some are world travelers. One woman mentioned that this is her first time out of her hometown! It was humbling to hear about the challenges these women manage on a day-to-day basis. Just applying for the TechWomen program was a challenge for Egyptian participants. The application deadline, February 1, was at the same time that the government shut down the internet—happily, an extension was provided. Read More »
Two weeks ago I shared my interview with Sue Hunt, Director of Strategic Programmes at London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games on the subject of Inclusion and Diversity – what Inclusion and Diversity means to LOCOG and how they encourage it while faced with the challenge of an immovable deadline.
As part of our role as proud supporter and network infrastructure provider of London 2012, Cisco UK is involved in a couple of internal activities to encourage its employees to get involved in the Games. One of these activities is the Cisco Step Challenge, a 4-week challenge to encourage people to take the internationally recommended 10,000 steps per day. Providing you walked the minimum 70,000 steps per week, you were put into the prize draw for a pair of tickets to see a Paralympic Games event.
Employees across the UK joined together to formed teams and participated in the challenge. It wasn’t about fundraising or getting sweaty and struggling to find time to fit in extra exercise. It was about participation, improving your health and well being, team work and above all, having fun. A Facebook page and internal community was set up for participants to share words of encouragement and “top tips” for their fellow steppers such as park further away from your office building, use the stairs and not the lift, dancing burns more calories than walking and if you walk with children you walk more steps as you have to go back to get them every 200 yards!
The Step Challenge was very successful in engaging a large number of employees across the UK to participate in a sports challenge and raising awareness about how far you have to walk to achieve the recommended average of 10,000 steps. And one of the great things about it was that you could participate regardless of your age, gender, fitness levels, ethnicity, religion and belief or sexual orientation.
Inclusion and Diversity is a key component of Cisco’s culture and we believe that a truly inclusive and diverse workforce is critical to the success of our company and our people. The Step Challenge was advertised as “a challenge for everyone” and strongly encourage that everyone who wished to attend did so. Unfortunately we did not have anyone with a visual disability participate in the challenge and the team intends to look into this as a key area of focus for us next year. I think this is a real lesson for us all, that it’s not enough to open an opportunity to everyone -- we need to actively encourage Inclusion and Diversity and incorporate it into our strategy for success.
Cisco is the proud supporter and network infrastructure provider of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. The 2012 Games aim to be the most connected games to date and Cisco are supplying the routing, switching, firewall, IP telephony and Software as a Service platform to fulfil this aim and transform the Olympic experience for the global audience. Click here to access Cisco’s London 2012 page.
The strong and collaborative partnership Cisco has with LOCOG (London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games) is not just confined to a business relationship. We are both fully committed to Inclusion and Diversity -- understanding the importance of diversity and the value it brings and embracing difference whether that’s age, disability, gender, ethnicity, religion and belief or sexual orientation (you may recall my previous blog post on this topic).
And we aren’t just talking about fostering an inclusive and diverse workforce – it’s also about using Inclusive and Diverse practices to better serve our global customers and partners. For LOCOG, this means all the people around the world who will be flying into London, one of the most diverse cities in the world. And LOCOG is up against an additional challenge – its immovable deadline.
I decided to find out a bit more about this topic and reached out to Sue Hunt, Director of Strategic Programmes at LOCOG. If you have any comments about this post, please post them below.
Cisco UK is also involved in a number of internal activities to encourage its employees to get involved in the London 2012 Olympics. Stay tuned for more on this topic.
This spring, Cisco hosted the Disability Matters Conference at company headquarters in San Jose with Springboard Consulting and Northrop Grumman. I sat down with Pamela Dirks Burke, the Cisco lead organizer, to find out what her team did to prepare:
If someone was preparing to host a similar event, what should they know?
When you host a conference centered around disabilities, you have to build-in assistive technologies rather than respond to requests. For the Disability Matters Conference, we arranged for CART (Communication Access Realtime Translation) technologies, a real time captioning service, as well as sign language interpreters. There were multiple digital displays that displayed the captioning, the interpreters and the speakers.
What are the subtleties around arranging these aids?
You want to find transcriptionists and interpreters who are familiar with the meeting subject matter--particularly if it’s technical or if there are a lot of acronyms. For Disability Matters, Read More »
I love this video. It conveys so simply how our choice of words can radically change how people react to us.
It also shows how difficult it is to make an impact when we’re stuck in a rut of talking a particular way.
The way we use language in the technology sector is a funny old business. At one end of the scale we have acronyms galore, a list as long as my arm that I’m forever trying [and failing] to work my way through. At the other we have company names becoming common parlance verbs. Today there are millions of people around the world who Facebook, Google and Twitter.
The murky in-between is a mixture of techy specifications containing bits and bytes, or else roll-off-the-tongue phrases like broadband, plug-and-play and cloud computing that only a tiny minority of the world’s population truly understand. For many, the technology sector is amongst the worst for language that doesn’t invite people in.
This hasn’t stopped the relentless rise in the use of technology. But whilst the e-comfortable click ahead, those left behind just want to be talked to in a language they understand.