In March we celebrated and recognized Women’s History Month, however it’s important to continue the conversation year long, as inclusivity is an ongoing journey.
In the spirit of this year’s theme #EmbraceEquity, I find myself looking not towards the past, but towards the future and how important equality, inclusivity, and equity are in the context of—The future of tech. The future of leadership. The future of emerging talent.
The future looks promising
Looking around the tech landscape in general, these recent stats give me hope that we are moving towards a more equitable, inclusive place. For example:
- Job seekers globally are paying attention to companies’ Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) efforts, so much so that 39% turned down or did not pursue an opportunity because of a “perceived lack of inclusion.” This is especially amplified among young millennials and Gen Z, who list a “diverse and inclusive organization” as one of the top three things they look for in an employer. (Global Parity Alliance: Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Lighthouses 2023)
- Another interesting stat that gives me hope: according to the BairesDev Women in Tech 2022 Report, women in their 20s are making their presence known in the tech world, comprising 40% of applicants for that age range.
- There’s also the fact that doing good is simply good for business: ethnically and gender diverse companies are 36% and 25% more likely, respectively, to outperform businesses that have average levels of diversity for their industry. (Global Parity Alliance: Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Lighthouses 2023)
Powering an inclusive future for all
Within the tech world itself, I couldn’t be prouder to work at a company like Cisco, who’s very purpose is to power an inclusive future for all. And we don’t just talk about it, we actually do it. In fact, 43% of Cisco’s leadership team is comprised of women, and 100% of Cisco VPs have taken the Multiplier Effect pledge, committing to sponsor at least one person different from them and challenge their peers to do the same. There’s also the fact that Cisco was just named #1 on Fortune Magazine’s 100 Best Companies to Work For list for the third consecutive year, and last year we ranked 3rd in the Fortune 2022 100 Best Large Workplaces for Women list.
Beyond the very public accolades, there are other things that Cisco does to embrace equity that give me hope for the future of not only women in tech—but for a more inclusive tech landscape period. Cisco is a part of OneTen, which “aims to close the opportunity gap for Black talent in America;” and we’re also members of The Valuable 500, which is a “global business collective made up of 500 CEOs and their companies, innovating together for disability inclusion.”
With 25+ Employee Resource Organizations (EROs) such as Women of Cisco, PRIDE, Connected Black Professionals, Connected Disability Action Network, and more, Cisco provides so many ways for Cisconians to not only connect with one another but to make an impact. And I couldn’t be prouder of the fact that many, many members of the Marketing organization are involved with several EROs and also heavily involved with leading multiple initiatives that drive towards creating equity for all. It’s in our DNA.
Inclusivity is an ongoing journey
Inclusive leadership is an ongoing journey. For me it’s learning about unconscious and conscious bias, working to break that bias – in my own day-to-day leadership, in enabling and empowering my team, as well as advocating for others. Being inclusive means having a seat at the table, even if I must create that seat, but more importantly creating space for others. It also means speaking up and making space for others to bring their diverse perspectives, so that we represent our partners and customers around the world.
As with many things in life, it’s an ongoing process. I lean on my friends, leaders, peers, and team members to coach and challenge me so that I can strive to do better every day.
Looking ahead, the future is promising so that my daughter will have to break fewer glass ceilings and be able to forge her career in a more inclusive world.
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