Becoming the #1 security company is a tall order. At Cisco, we know that diversity will be our competitive differentiator in attaining that goal. Women bring so much to the security table, offering different perspectives that yield strategic and creative solutions to complex problems that cyber threat imposes.

It’s no secret that today women are significantly under-represented in tech jobs, and cyber in particular. In fact, while women comprise 50% of technology consumers, we fill only 11% of security jobs. Yet current projections indicate that by 2021, there will be 3.5M unfilled cybersecurity jobs worldwide. That estimate has increased by 1M since last year, so the trend is unfortunately moving in the wrong direction. The US alone is on pace to have more than a half million unfilled cyber positions by 2021. Realistically, even without ‘cyber’ in the job title, every IT position is now also a cybersecurity position. All technology workers must engage in protecting and defending the apps, data, devices, infrastructure, and people that run our world. The only way these challenges can be met is by preparing and advancing women in this workforce. 

We’ve been taking some formal, industry-leading steps toward that reality. In 2017, our CEO Chuck Robbins, along with more than 300 CEOs worldwide, signed the CEO Action for Diversity and Inclusion pledge on Cisco’s behalf. The pledge includes three core commitments:

  1. Making our workplaces trusting spaces to have complex and sometimes difficult conversations about diversity and inclusion;
  2. Implementing and expanding unconscious bias education;
  3. Sharing best—as well as unsuccessful—practices for all to learn from.

At the 2017 Mobile World Congress, Cisco also launched the Multiplier Effect Pledge, which challenges leaders of all levels to sponsor one diverse person to the next stage in their career. In the interest of pay parity, we’ve given pay adjustments to close minor gaps—approximately 0.02 percent—of our global base payroll. We’re advancing women in top leadership: currently, 38% (five of thirteen) of our Executive Leadership Team are women, as is 40% of our Board. We believe these are all steps in the right direction that will hopefully inspire similar trend lines across the industry.

We’re increasing our investment in women in cyber. Our internal Cisco Women in Cybersecurity (WiCys) group is a global community of 300+ members who regularly engage in mutual support and learning. We publish a complementary blog series to highlight some of our WiCys team, including men in leadership positions who actively encourage this initiative.  At our recent Security Leadership Summit, we dedicated a session to talking with our internal team about the importance of diversity and the cross-organizational responsibility to foster it.

Our flagship program is the annual Women of Impact conference and Security was honored to kick it off this year, see blog for some of the highlights.

We’re also proud that Michelle Dennedy, Chief Privacy Officer, is chosen to speak at the upcoming RSA Conference, the cyber world’s biggest event. Michelle will participate in three panels discussing data integrity as well as the pending European Union General Data Protection Regulation, and will sponsor a workshop with members of her privacy team.

As RSA 2018 draws near, I’d like to invite all attendees and cybersecurity professionals who support women in the industry to attend the RSAC Women’s Leadership Reception on Tuesday April 17th (5 – 7:30 PM – Press Club, 20 Yerba Buena Lane, San Francisco) . At this casual, welcoming event, we’ll celebrate the talent, contributions and continued development of women throughout the cybersecurity community. To participate in the RSAC Women’s Leadership Reception, attendees must have a RSA Conference badge. To register for a complimentary expo only badge, enter registration code: X8ECISCOE.

We hope to see you there!


Lynne Doherty

Senior Vice President

US Commercial Sales