Today, March 8, marks International Women’s Day, an opportunity to celebrate phenomenal women around the world. This year’s theme, Step it Up for Gender Equality, encourages everyone to take the #Planet5050 pledge in support of a world where women are equally represented: in education, in civil rights, in the workforce, in pay parity, and more; “50-50” by the year 2030.
At Cisco, we’ve got strong women everywhere: represented in our customers and partners, reflected in the tens of thousands of women among our ranks, and formalized in our most senior executives, including Kelly Kramer, CFO; Karen Walker, CMO; Fran Katsoudas, Chief People Officer; and Rebecca Jacoby, SVP Operations to name a few. To reference Beyonce’s latest hit, we’re in “formation.”
And, yet, there is still so much work to do. As a part of our Government and Community Relations team, I spend a great deal of my time creating and leading programs that engage the talents of our global employee base with volunteer opportunities that demonstrate our support for the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals.
Next month, Cisco sites around the world will host Girls Power Tech in partnership with the United Nations’ Girls in ICT Day initiative. Last year’s events – in 91 locations and 56 countries – were organized by nearly 1,500 Cisco volunteers who welcomed 3,300 girls ages 13-19 to our campuses. The young women visited Cisco offices, interacted with our WebEx and TelePresence technologies, talked to employee volunteers about career advice, and more.
One thing I love about young people is that they can be brilliantly unfiltered. One girl stood and asked Kelly, our CFO, “Why do women have to tolerate being left out of the tech industry?” Kelly didn’t miss a beat: “You don’t.” The room fell silent, and then, boisterous applause and cheering. You could almost see the wheels turning as their adolescent minds processed the simple, yet unequivocally strong message.
The feedback from participants and employees was overwhelmingly positive. Creating exposure opportunities for women and girls early in their educational journeys can spark a light of interest that cannot be extinguished. It’s this kind of resilience and purposefulness that will continue to fuel our dynamic and fast-paced innovation economy. For our employees, men and women alike, they had a blast getting away from their desks for a few hours, connecting with bright young minds and being a part of a small moment in someone else’s journey of self-discovery. Many noted that they wished they had a program like this in their youth.
I’m proud to be a woman of impact at Cisco – we’re change agents, leaders, creative and flawed all at once. We are not a monolith, and yet, the issue of gender equality necessitates that we band together. Just as important, we must encourage and celebrate the men in our lives who join us in taking tangible actions that will further this year’s theme to Step it Up for Gender Equailty.
Join me today, on International Women’s Day, and tweet out a note about how you plan to support #Planet5050 by 2030.
I would extend congratulations on the women’s international day. I loved the Cisco event last year and this post reminded me of how impressed my teenager daughter was from hearing Kelly Kramer empower them.
I plan to attend the event again this year with my daughter who codes for girls make games.
Having leadership such as the women team at Cisco speaks of progress and success for the company. Thank you on behalf of this woman in tech!
Jessica, loved your blog and I second your statement “I’m proud to be a woman of impact at Cisco – we’re change agents, leaders, creative and flawed all at once”
We had a wonderful Women of Impact 2016 and looking forward to the Girls Power Tech Event in April.
As Malala proved -“One child, one teacher, one book and one pen can change the world” , let’s be the change we wish to see in the world !
I would love to bring a good number of my female 8th grade girls to this event. I have contacted Diedre Brown via e-mail on two occasions, and received no response. Who can I speak to regarding this event before I coordinate car pools, permission slips, etc. I have potential to bring 50-60 girls but I am sure a much smaller number would come due to transportation or not wanting to miss school.
Please let me know how I can confirm our attendance for this event.
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