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Promoting Gender Diversity

September 15, 2006 - 0 Comments

Diverse Teams For a Diverse WorldNoni Allwood, Cisco’s senior director of Human Resources, views the promotion of gender diversity in the workforce with the eminently rational view that diversity is in everyone’s best interest.”œI articulate the business case for gender diversity,” Allwood says in a Q&A with News@Cisco. “For example, we anticipate a reduction in the work force that will create a gap of 10 million workers by 2010. Cisco will be competing for the best employees, so if we keep searching for candidates in a narrow segment of the population, we’re not going to get the top talent. I also emphasize something we know: that the best teams are the most diverse teams. They bring creativity and innovation, factors which we depend on heavily for our future success. Finally, Cisco serves very diverse markets, and we want to reflect the needs of those markets. The only way to do that is to have an employee population that understands those diverse needs.”To address diversity, Allwood and her colleagues created a gender diversity council to develop plans and drive communications and sponsorship. They introduced a gender diversity balance score card.Concrete plans are underway.”We’re working at three levels,” Allwood says.”The first is visibility: internally and externally, we want our female leadership to be visible. Number two is strengthening our women’s networks around the world. We have 33 networks that contribute to the success of the business in their local offices; contribute to the community; work to develop themselves; and make sure that they build sustainable, growing networks. The third focus is building a culture of mentoring, in which rising talented women can get support from role models.”Allwood says that ultimately the efficacy of gender diversity should become an ingrained part of the working environment.”At the end of the day, I’d like diversity to become so embedded in our culture that we don’t even have to think about it specifically. In other words, I’d like to work myself out of a job.”

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