Cisco Blogs

Be You, Ink and All

Years ago, I had to talk a tattoo artist friend of mine into inking my wrist with a bright green shamrock. For all my other tattoos, he never hesitated. For this one though, it came with a warning.

Getting Inked for the 5th time.

“You realize companies may not hire you with a visible tattoo.”

Two years later, I stumbled upon a job posting that I thought was my “dream job” – I answered their questions accurately, and was immediately denied.

I knew why. They asked if I had any visible tattoos, and I had answered, “Yes.” My talents and skills were never even considered.

I didn’t want to work for a company that couldn’t even see that, perhaps, there’s more to the story than just a girl with a tattoo.

Of course, there’s a bit more to that story – but all you really need to know is that after a couple of years with a company that didn’t mind my tattoos one bit – I grew those talents and skills, and met a friend who would later introduce me to Cisco. And, that’s how I ended up here and now – confidently able to be my authentic self. Plus, I just added some new ink, and thought nothing of it, because Cisco embraces our uniqueness. 😊

But, I’m certainly not the only Inked Cisconian! Here’s a couple friends I’ve made recently who helped to inspire this post:

Alfredo Gutierrez – Cloud Admin Engineer | San Jose, California

I love art and was a graffiti artist growing up so naturally I love ink art, my favorite is my left forearm tat — it’s a turntable and record from my younger days of DJ’ing.

My Experience has been up and down with how people react to my tattoos in general, I tend to notice that older folks seem to be more judgmental, but all my ink has been well received.

People with ink are just people that don’t mind a little pain for a permanent piece of art, I think it’s great that Cisco as a company is encouraging this motto of being yourself.

When I first started working at Cisco I wore long sleeve shirts for the first four months because I didn’t see anyone in the building that had any ink, and wasn’t quite sure of if there was a policy in place. One day, I finally saw another inked colleague and asked about policy, but she told me that she didn’t know of one.

I asked my manager, and while it took some time to come to a conclusion, he said as long as they weren’t offensive they were okay and to use my best judgement. I’ve been rocking my ink ever since with no negative feedback or judgement around the office.

Yana Lipen – Candidate Experience Coordinator | Krakow, Poland

I have always loved tattoos, and it was always a dream to have one. When I was 18 I got a tattoo of a small rose on my left shoulder. I worked at an HR office at the time that had no issue with my tattoo.

In 2012, I decided to add tattoos of an old frame, and then a corset to my shoulder – more and more tattoos soon followed! I really like a pirate theme in my tattoos – so many adventures are in this big part of history. So, many of my tattoos are tied to that. On my right hand I have one big sleeve with an old pirate’s ship and underwater world.

So many people told me that I would have a problem finding a good job if I got tattoos, and for a while that scared me. But I still decided to go for it. At one of my first jobs, I was a receptionist and I worked with people a lot, so I wore sleeves every day – no matter the temperature! Some days, when it was warm, I looked a bit silly.

This is 2017, we should be progressing and accepting of others. The result of the job will not be worse, just better because the employee can truly be themselves! When the employee is happy – the results of the work are better and better!  😊

When I realized that I didn’t have to hide my tattoos at Cisco and that I can be myself here – I was so happy about it! My friends did not believe me that in such a big company like Cisco I can wear what I want – and my tattoos are not a problem at all. It is so cool that Cisco really cares about employees, I feel happy and comfortable here.

It is my hope that other companies will look to Cisco as an example and no one will be judged by the shell they wear, only by their true talents and skills. 😊

5th Tattoo – Unlocked!

Let’s change the world together ❤ Freedom for tattoos! 😊


I think I can speak for us all when I say we’re proud to work for a company that encourages us – and expects us – to be our true selves.

To tattoo or not to tattoo? Share your story in the comments below or employees, we’d love you to show us your ink on social media and tag #WeAreCisco!


Want to work for a company that allows you to be yourself? We’re hiring!


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  1. Great story! .. thankyou for sharing

  2. I’m in a customer-facing role and my colleagues, management and customers have no issues with my small visible tattoo which holds a lot of meaning for me and my family. Glad that Cisco is a company that welcomes folks to express and be their whole selves at work!

  3. Also inked as well. Looking forward to my next one. This is a great article…

  4. I have my tattoos on my legs, I was afraid this may not acceptable by any company. But Cisco is different!!!! Cisco is a ‘fashion’ company which provides ‘freedom’ to employee. I love Cisco!!!

  5. I have always been nervous to show my ink and even had my chest plate removed (gasp!)….It was much more taboo to walk around with ink showing back in the early 00’s – and I finally gave in to my comfort zone. I was so covered up that some of my prior (long time) co-workers had no idea that I even have ink! 🙂

    Still, I have my 3/4 sleeve, full back piece, and leg work. After reading this article, and the comments from fellow Cisconians, I’m not as nervous to show my ink in the office. After all, it is a personal depiction of art + life which will always be a unique part of me…Thank you all for the great read!

  6. LOVE this story!! My body is my temple and I, too have hung up artwork! I really appreciate that we broadcast this on our homepage. I’ve been at Cisco 10 years and last year I got a little daring with my hair – something I had always wanted to try. Turns out a great role came available and I started an interview process shortly thereafter. I was very nervous that my hair might eliminate me from being considered, but in fact it was quite the opposite, it helped me show my individuality. That gave me a lot of confidence when I took the new role. Thank you, Cisco for letting us bring our whole selves to work!

  7. Inked Cisconian here. Great article and thank you Cisco for being so accepting.

  8. I love the open mindedness and the respect that we have within CISCO, the appearance is something personal as well as our abilities to develop ourselves within our area of expertise, congratulations to the entire CISCO community, let us continue to be an example for the new generations!

    Notes that make me happy the day! #WeAreCisco #Tatto

  9. Great read! I love working in such a progressive culture, and I love that I can change up my hair color all the time – and don’t have to worry about my tattoos.

  10. Such a great story. I myself have about 22 with plans to get more. I also have blue hair and facial piercings and not once was I ever made to feel different for being myself. Allowing employees to be themselves results in better productivity! Everyone I work with loves the tattoo’s and hair color. Thank you Cisco for being so amazing

  11. go ink! 😉

  12. This is so awesome to hear and see. I’ve been going back and forth about extending my polynesian sleeve to my forearm or wrist because of the perception that comes with tattoos. My current ink is typically visible unless my shirt sleeves extend past my elbow.
    Growing up in the Samoa where tattoo traditions are rich and part of the culture, it was always normal for me. Happy to see Cisco is embracing this!

  13. I was told the same thing many years ago and so I kept most of my tats hidden. But next month while I’m in Ireland on vacation I will be getting a new one that will show all the time to honor my Grandfather and my heritage and I can’t wait. Thank you Cisco for allowing your employees to be their “true” selves. Happy employees are better employees!

  14. So proud of this company that we an openly share our diversity so openly! #wearecisco

  15. This is such an awesome story! Thanks for sharing! Makes me proud to work for a company that can embrace some permanent ink! 🙂

  16. When I decided to add a new tattoo in honor of my grandfather, others warned me about the location. As it would be visible on my wrist and I work in the professional arena, what would others think. Given I worked here at Cisco since out of college, I didn’t know different. Culture here at Cisco is unlike other companies and it was important to me to always remember my grandfather. Six years later and it doesn’t bother anyone. As a matter of fact, this year I added another one to remember my nephew. Doesn’t change who I am or how I get my work done. Tells a story and allows for others to visualize the type of person i am-caring and kind. Thanks Cisco for allowing me to be who I am!!!

  17. Very cool article and great that Cisco welcomes their unique way of expression. Way to go!!

  18. This is GREAT! I love that a company can embrace everyone’s differences – both culturally and artistically. This is my second time around at Cisco and I still cover up my tattoos. I am happy to see so many who are confident enough to break the stereotypes and help make tattoos socially “normal”.

  19. Hats off to you guys for being authentically you and hats off to Cisco for supporting a diverse workforce!

  20. Just awesome! 🙂

  21. Great companies understand that employees should be judged by their performance and results and not how they look! As a man with longish hair and tattoos, I’ve never felt like my appearance limited me here in any way.

    A wise man once told me, “Be yourself…it’s the only thing you are better at than anyone else in the world!”

  22. Great article! I personally like tattoos and I don’t have any. I think that you need a lot of courage to do so 🙂 b/c our society unfortunately is not ready to accept uniqueness.

    Proud of you guys! 😀
    I may get one some time 😛

  23. Love the article and I love the fact that we can all embrace our uniqueness here at Cisco! I have ink and have never covered it up and I do not think I have ever been judged or frowned upon for having it. However at 56 years old I don’t really care what others may say, it’s none of my business anyway!
    Like I tell my kids and grandson, EMBRACE YOUR UNIQUENESS!!!

  24. very cool, Cisco

  25. I think this was a great reminder, bravo on writing and publishing this. Not having Ink myself, I still appreciate the beauty and art on others.

  26. Great Story Casie! Feels so good to know we work at a company that lets people be who they are, Tat or no Tat.. I have to admit, my daughters took me in when I turned 50 for my first Tattoo. They came up with the design, 3 hearts connected. And we all got the same one. I LOVE my tattoo, it has special meaning to me! Looking to get another one for my first born grandson! Who says 60 year old grandmothers can’t be cool! 🙂

    • I agree, Lori! I love that we all get to work collectively as a team — how you look, what you wear, what color your hair is, your age, tatts or no tatts doesn’t matter. It’s truly in finding the BEST people that will make the GREATEST teams, and change the world together. 🙂

  27. I wanted to pierce my nose for years. I mentioned this at my old company and immediately got the stink eye. Three months after starting at Cisco, I got it done. I love it, and no one has said anything about it even three years later. I still can’t believe my good fortune to be here with such an amazing, talented, and diverse group of people.

  28. Love the blog!

  29. Awesome article, really enjoyed reading it. Our Uniqueness is what makes us special and having the ability to express yourself openly is what makes our company great. Would love to see a gallery of all tattoos from Cisco employees across the globe 😉

    • I love that idea, Sergio! We did do an Instagram Story on @WeAreCisco as a follow-up where many more Cisconians contributed their tattoo stories there — hoping to have that full story up soon to be able to share further. 🙂

  30. Thank you for sharing!

    I’ve got ink including a lambda knuckle tat ’cause lambda calculus (see is part of who I am and I can’t hide it. 🙂

    It’s most excellent to be part of a company that celebrates our individual awesomeness and the way we express our awesomeness.

    Rock on!

  31. This is honestly one of my favorites things about Cisco! I have never felt that my career would be impacted because of superficial things like tattoos or hair color/style here (I’ve gone from a PM to a Sr. Manager in my time at Cisco). I have a tattoo that covers my entire back, as well as one on my leg – and the only comments I’ve ever gotten at Cisco were those of admiration 🙂 #lovewhereyouwork

  32. When I first started at Cisco I had 3 visible tattoos, a dinosaur on the inside of my ankle and a large cherry blossom tattoo on the inside of each wrist (I have since almost covered my right arm). I hid them for a while but my management figured it out and said: “we know about your tattoos, you don’t have to wear a sweater every day”. That was great because it meant that I could be me. I am an admin assistant, which meant that sometimes I would have to face clients and in those instances, I would certainly put the sweater on. The flip side here is that we have the opportunity to demystify/desensitize people to tattoos altogether because when people get used to seeing them there is less sensitivity around them. I feel like I have been paving the way for the next generation of the tattooed work force.

  33. Love this! My tattoos are small and easily covered, but I love doing my hair in different colors: blue, purple, teal. And I love that at Cisco there’s no issue with that.

    • From one lover of purple hair to another — I am 100% with you here! I was SO HAPPY to go back to purple when I started working at Cisco after years of having to “be natural”.

  34. Also an Inked up Cisconian with a visible four leaf cover on my right hand and a visible Alzheimer’s ribbon with Mom over it.

  35. Loved this article. I think that we do indeed have a culture that allows you to be yourself, and for me the article was summed with the words above saying that as long as you are respectful and use your best judgement you should be fine. Think that your role and whether you need to face external clients is still a factor, it is perhaps far less than it used to be.

  36. I have two half sleeves, tattoo’s on each forearm and a tattoo on my wrist. I have never received any looks of disdain or judgement. Cisco is a great place to work indeed! Thanks for sharing!

  37. After 8 years in the military, I had acquired quite a few tattoos, but never thought about it having a bearing on my career. About 2 years ago I had a tat added to my forearm. Get lots of questions about it’s meaning. So I say be you, everyone else is being them, and enjoy the beauty of a well-created and executed tat.

  38. I’m also heavily tatted also. I’ve never tried to hide mine since I figured this is me, it’s who I am. Bravo great article!

  39. Absolutely love this story! I am an Internal Resourcer for an IT Company and I have tattoos. What matters to me is finding talented people who love what they do – ink or no ink.

  40. Love it, thanks for sharing your story!!!!