There is a tremendous amount of emotional tension in every industry right now as women come forward and reveal their struggles with sexual harassment, and even sexual assault, in the workplace through the recent viral #MeToo campaign. It is heartbreaking to read these accounts, but necessary to open the dialogue on how we ALL want and deserve to be treated in the workplace.
I have been in the Information Technology industry for about 18 years. Having been the only female in the room for so many years, I just don’t notice it anymore. In this male-dominated industry, I have heard and seen a lot of things, but I can honestly say I have never been the victim of sexual harassment, unlike many of the brave women sharing their stories with #MeToo. I have never been offered a quid pro quo promotion, and have never been fired or demoted for speaking up about topics or situations that, as a woman, made me uncomfortable. I am lucky I haven’t had to deal with this issue much in my career. That isn’t to say I haven’t been subjected to some bad behavior, but none of it has been damaging to my career, and almost all of it has had a swift resolution.
But the real story here is the number of men who have helped me thrive as a woman in this industry. These are the men who are part of my Cisco family. At Cisco, we always think of our teams, our peers, and our co-workers as our family. We make conscious efforts to see each other as equals. We surround each other in times of need. Simply put, we’re kind to each other. As one of the relatively few females in this industry (although the number of sisters is growing quickly!), I am surrounded by some wonderful brothers who have helped me thrive in this environment. My Cisco brothers have spoken up on my behalf in meetings when they noticed inequities or heard derogatory comments about women. My brothers have literally stepped up when I faced difficult situations where I was made uncomfortable by the behavior of customers or partners. They identified these potentially bad scenarios before I was even aware, and helped prevent them from happening. My brothers at Cisco also prevent me from walking back to my car or hotel alone, no matter how much I argue that I’m a grown woman and capable of defending myself. They do this because they’re my brothers, they care, and they take care of family. I’m grateful for my brothers, and want to thank them for all their support.
Most of the negative behavior I’ve seen in my career has been a lack of awareness or education on what is and is not acceptable. My brothers and sisters at Cisco have it figured out. We are family, and we want the best for each other, so we treat each other that way. People from every industry can learn from my Cisco brothers. Let’s all ask ourselves, “How do you want others to treat your sister, your daughter, your mother in her work environment? How do you want others to think of them and speak to them?” It’s time for us all to be positive examples — to influence others to be respectful and kind.