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Chief Diversity Officer Sandy Hoffman on Diversity and Technology

I had a moment to chat recently with Sandy Hoffman, Cisco’s newly appointed chief diversity officer, and we spoke about her new role:

What does a chief diversity officer actually do?

At Cisco, I see my role as providing strategic leadership across the company on recruiting, advancing and retaining talented people in our multinational and multigenerational corporate environment. Additionally, I’ll partner with the business on embedding inclusion and diversity into existing business processes, improving the effectiveness of employee resource groups, and supporting supplier diversity.

What challenges/opportunities do you see for diversity in technology companies right now?

The changing business landscape indicates that by 2020 the workplace will be dramatically different. In order to remain competitive, companies need to create a workplace that is diverse and inclusive, adaptable, virtual, and global.

Technology companies in particular are facing challenges in the Read More »

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ICT for Girls at UN: A Resounding Success!

I am still feeling the energy from the Girls in ICT venue held in New York City on April 26, 2012 where I participated on a panel with outstanding women from Microsoft, Ushahidi and Facebook.

The conference included women pioneers from government and private industry who engaged in a stimulating dialogue on the topic of girls in ICT; to recruiting and retaining women in ICT a topic where shared accountability is a MUST.

Further, ITU Secretary General, Dr. Hamadoun Touré pointed out Cisco in his opening keynote:

“Special mention should go to Cisco, a long time partner of ITU, which today organized more than 40 different events globally – and I know that many other tech companies have also been very active in promoting events and celebrations.”

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Where are all the Women?

The future of the information and communications technology (ICT) sector is exciting. Every day, people are using the Internet, computers and mobile devices in new and innovative ways.  ICT is changing the way we work, live, play and learn. And it’s opened up new employment opportunities that should appeal to men and women alike.

So, where are all the women?

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Connecting, Empowering and Inspiring Women in Technology at Cisco


Birds of Feather Session

Women in technology have unique opportunities and challenges. Only about 25% of Information Technology jobs are held by women and this can lead to feelings of isolation. Additionally, when women don’t see a lot of role models in the industry, they find it harder to believe they can succeed.

In working with the Anita Borg Institute for Women and Technology, I’ve learned that it’s important to acknowledge these challenges and have open conversations about them. After brainstorming with my manager and getting great support from my VP, I rallied a group of women to create a day devoted to the development and advancement of women in technology.

On March 27th, we held our first Women in Technology Forum for Cisco employees. The main event in San Jose, California saw 300 attendees in-person. The nice thing about working at a worldwide leader in networking is that Read More »

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Diversity in Resentment and Liberation from Guilt

Padmasree Warrior, our Chief Technology Officer and Senior Vice President of Engineering, shared some thoughts earlier this month on women in technology at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.  Padma joined Google’s Marissa Mayer, Hunch’s Caterina Fake and CNET’s Lindsey Turrentine on this CNET sponsored panel.  The takeaways are for both men and women:

Padma said that liberation from guilt is an important choice to make.  Earlier in her career, she felt guilty at work about not being with her child but she also felt guilty when she had to miss customer meetings to be home with her child.  Regardless of the decision, she learned not to be guilty about the decision.

In this day and age, you can be yourself at work.  Caterina Fake commented that in the 80s, businesswomen adopted the “Sigourney Weaver” uniform of heels, suits with shoulder pads and speaking in a low voice.  Now, you no longer need to conform to a single image to be taken seriously.  Marissa had a great line: “you can wear ruffles… or you can be a jock”

Burnout was a meaty topic that Marissa Mayer introduced by saying that working long hours is not what causes burnout. Read More »

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