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Cisco Unifying Diversity – Are YOU an Ally?

August 13, 2012 - 0 Comments

It’s not often that we realize we are in the majority, which is usually an indication that we are. What responsibility do we have, when we hold this majority seat, to listen to and help bridge the gap for others around us, or to be an ally to those in traditionally marginalised groups? Discrimination at work still exists globally and locally. Harnessing our social networking power by bridging gaps between majority and non-majority groups may lead to a more powerful and sustainable change, addressing bullying and discrimination in the field.


In her tremendous Human Rights Day speech from December 6, 2011, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton calls upon everyone to travel the road together – all people and all nations – to realize the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights that states:

“All persons are created free and equal in dignity and rights.”

I echo Clinton who encourages all of us to be “on the right side of history”. Now is the time for us to unite, to open our minds and hearts for all humans and their rights to be welcomed, valued, respected and heard. Allies will play a key role in shaping, transforming, and uniting the workplace to make this happen. Allies might just prove to be the equalizer in re-addressing the balance for all.

Do you know how to be an ally at work?
Many say that allies have the courage and commitment to stand-up for equality and justice and create a workplace environment that reflects their values. That sounds a bit daunting to me; I simply see myself as doing what is right and standing strongly in the belief that it is possible to live in a world where we just respect each other’s humanity.

Jennifer Brown’s research released last week indicates that allies are drastically underutilized within most companies. There are currently few resources or avenues for people to go to get organized and learn how to be an effective ally. Consequently, we find that, although many people want to be involved, they are not actively engaged.

There can be challenges in being an ally as well; I personally feel isolated at times by both communities and, as Brown indicates, “caught in the middle – not fully accepted by the non-majority … having to field questions and perhaps even criticisms from [my] majority colleagues.” However, Brown’s paper provides great insights and practical tips that can help in the organization of allies and establishing the business case for the individual and corporation.

What part will you play in helping to shape world history?
Eleanor Roosevelt made it all seem possible when she talked about:

“human rights being in the small places close to home –
the streets where people live, the schools they attend, the factories, farms, and offices where they work. These places are your domain. The actions you take the ideas that you advocate, can determine whether human rights flourish where you are.”

Together we can bring down the barriers that exist today and build bridges through human rights, inclusive work environments and embracing diversity to drive innovation of thought in the 21st century. I trust that, as our workforce transforms and more Millennials join us, our future leaders will demand inclusive workplaces as this is a generation seeking corporate signs in commitment to inclusive practices. This is becoming a differentiator in the marketplace for not only recruitment but for Cisco customers and suppliers alike.

Related Links

Allies Come Out: LGBT Allies are Changing the Face of Workplace Diversity and Inclusion, White Paper published by Jennifer Brown Consulting and sponsored by Alcoa and Cisco

Advocacy versus Mentoring

US Secretary Of State, Hilary Clinton, Delivers Historic LGBT Speech In Geneva, December 6, 2011 (Video/Full Text version provided by “The Huffington Post”)

The Workplace 2020

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