Our 4th Annual CSO Women’s Professional Development Day, hosted by Cisco’s Corporate Strategy Office, was held in San Jose last week. Aimed at providing education, development and inspiration to employees from Cisco, customers and partners, this year’s event was incredibly well received, with over 450 attendees from 11 locations across the U.S.

Events such as CSO Women’s Day are a vital forum to put topics such as diversity and inclusion out there that we all – regardless of gender — have a stake in addressing. Creating a ‘safe space’ to have the conversation and share our stories is a great way to drive empowerment, inclusion and change.

The speaker line-up for CSO Women’s Day was incredible – beginning with hilarious and thoughtful advice from actress Kim Coles, a powerfully motivating talk from Declara founder Ramona Pierson, a Ted Talk panel with Tea Collection founder Emily Meyer, Apple VP Isabel Mahe, Scale Venture partner Kate Mitchell and Coursera COO Lila Ibrahim, to a genuine and thought-provoking speech from Recode editor Kara Swisher. We closed the day with a fun and interactive session with Stand and Deliver’s Michelle Johnson to learn high-performing communication in leadership.

Our event theme was originality, however, there are a few key learnings that I think of when considering diversity, inclusion and leadership….

  • Walk through the door with your whole self. It makes you, your team and those around you better.
  • Talk about the tough issues you face. Don’t be afraid to share and discuss things in the workplace that may be uncomfortable.
  • Bring the people behind you along on the journey. Share the richness of your experience so the next generation can succeed.

I’d like to hear from you what steps you take to foster diversity and inclusion in your workplace. Join the conversation on Twitter using #CSOWomen #WeAreCisco





Hilton Romanski

No Longer with Cisco