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Fixing Broken Windows: Shattered Myths About the Glass Ceiling

Leading organisations now realise that improving the representation of female leaders is crucial to business success. In fact, according to research from McKinsey, “Companies in the top quartile for gender diversity are 15 percent more likely to have financial returns above their respective national industry medians.”

Where are all the women?

Cisco is a shining exemplar of gender diversity at the executive leadership level.

A look at our Executive Leadership “wheel” shows a well-balanced team, equal parts male and female.  But many companies across the globe would present an extremely lopsided wheel.   A recent Harvard Business Review article notes the lack of women executive officers in the Fortune 500 and asks this compelling question: “Why, when there’s so much conversation about the topic, are the numbers not moving?”

Before the top comes the middle

Why indeed? I believe there are few women at the top of the corporate ladder because companies are not focused on women working in the middle levels – middle-women, if you like. In her brilliant essay in The Guardian, “Forget the glass ceiling, we need to fix the broken windows first,” Jean Martin explains this phenomenon, “In many cases, women are not held back because of a glass ceiling but because of the cumulative effect of the micro-issues that women face day after day that slows their journey, or stops them getting to the top.”

Said another way, they never reach the ultimate destination because the middle of the journey is such a hard slog.

Fixing broken windows

Martin proposes a solution based on the crime prevention strategy known as the “broken widows” approach which asserts that small acts of crime (littering, graffiti, broken windows) escalate to more serious crimes if left unaddressed. She explains, “Translating this into the business world, preventative measures to fix the fairly minor day-to-day issues must be taken now. The smart employer puts the focus on understanding and engaging female employees just as they start to consider their careers. This means engaging in proper discussions with female staff about career aspirations early on, ensuring there are female role models within the company and making flexible working the norm rather than the exception.”

So what can companies do to help middle-women survive and thrive? Here are 5 ideas:

1. Begin at the beginning 

Attracting more female employees could be as simple as changing the language in your recruitment ads. In fact, Inc. Magazine reports: “Women are turned off to job descriptions that list traits typically associated with men such as assertive, aggressive, and analytical. Women prefer to see words like dedicated, responsible, sociable, and conscientious.”

2. Develop the talent you have  

Once you have female talent in the door, build your bench strength. For example, Cisco offers two unique programmes designed to address the specific development needs of aspiring women leaders. The DARE and JUMP women’s development programmes arm women with the skills and behaviours needed to excel in their current role and contribute to the future success of Cisco. They feature workshops that encourage networking with peers and leverage internal leaders as role models.

3. Establish networks and communities of interest

The benefits of networking are well documented. And women tend to be excellent networkers. At Cisco, volunteers have created the Connected Women network, a global community to attract, develop, retain, and celebrate talented women as part of a competitive and diverse workforce.

 4. Provide strong role models

Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg and Yahoo’s Melissa Mayer are often cited as role models for working women. But these examples can seem too far-removed. Women also need accessible role models within their own organisations. To that end, Connected Women at Cisco champions an Executive Shadowing programme that pairs middle-women “shadowees” with women executives for career insight and coaching.

5. Give women what they want 

The number one thing female employees value? Flexibility. In fact, 86% of companies on Fortune’s 100 Best Companies to Work For (which includes Cisco) offer some type of flexible schedule. In the U.S., we were recently named #3 on a list of “The 25 best tech companies to work for in America” based on six criteria including pay and ability to telecommute.   Last year, we were named #8 on a list of “The top 25 places to work in the UK” based on a survey by jobs website Glassdoor. Cisco was praised for “its training and development programmes and the work-life balance for staff.”

It’s all about the culture

Although companies like Cisco are making great strides at the executive levels, we must continue to “fix broken windows” for middle-women. And while the above ideas may help, ultimately what will attract and retain talented women is a culture that embraces diverse leadership styles.

What are your ideas for “fixing broken windows?” Share your insight in the comments below

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At the Center of the Digital Vortex: Chaos, Disruption, and Opportunity

The only thing that remains constant is change.

It’s an old adage. While it has always been true, it’s especially relevant now. Today’s pace of technology change is akin to a vortex, relentlessly and chaotically sweeping everything into its spiral path, demanding digitization. As with a real vortex, the force of this change is too strong to ignore and those objects (or business models) that fail to adapt will break apart and fall away.

Indeed, digital disruption has the potential to overturn incumbents and reshape markets faster than perhaps any force in history. Organizations that do not drive their own digital business transformation will be left behind. Those that do will be pulled toward a “digital center” in which business models, offerings, and value chains are digitized driving new revenue streams and substantive business outcomes.

Developing New Business Models for the Digital Age from Cisco Business Insights

 

The driver behind this pace of disruption is the Internet of Everything (IoE), the networked connection of people, process, data, and things. Cisco projects these connections to surge from 15 billion today to some 50 billion by the end of the decade. IoE is sowing disruption, certainly — but it is a force for disruption and creation. With a total Value at Stake of $19 trillion from 2013 to 2022, IoE represents a profound market transition — and opportunity.

Read More »

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Cisco Women Engineers Make Their Mark at the IEEE Women In Engineering International Leadership Conference

WiEEEIn April this year, Cisco sponsored the IEEE Women in Engineering International Leadership Conference held at the San Jose Marriott. This was part of a concerted effort to advance and attract women in technical and leadership roles in the technology industry.

At the beginning of our partnership with IEEE we asked ourselves: “What is it going to take to change an industry, to give every woman in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) a seat at the innovation table?” Read More »

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Want to be heard? Be quiet.

In a world that has become more digital and collaborative — where everyone struggles to be heard — the temptation is to shout louder. But what if a different leadership style could be more effective? What if listening rather than broadcasting could make us agile in an unpredictable world?

Listening-centric leadership is a big departure from traditional management styles, which are based on being the most dominant force in the room. But it’s fast gaining traction. For example, in a recent Harvard Business Review article, Peter Bregman cracks the code on the power of listening: “It’s counter-intuitive, but it turns out that listening is far more persuasive than speaking.   Silence is a greatly underestimated source of power. In silence, we can hear not only what is being said but also what is not being said.”

In her mega-selling book “Quiet: The Power of Introverts,” Susan Cain echoes this sentiment and explains, “We don’t need giant personalities to transform companies. We need leaders who build not their own egos but the institutions they run.”  This same principle is the thesis of a recent CMO article entitled, “To Be Heard, Turn Down the Volume” in which Jeff Pundyk of The Economist Group writes, “Without more listening, there’s little learning; without meaningful participation, there’s little chance for engagement.”

“Quiet Power” is making its way into the management leagues here at Cisco, where I work. Conscious Leaders is a revolutionary new leadership development programme we’re using in the EMEAR region. One of its central tenants is a Predictive intelligence (PI) approach to keeping up with current trends. PI extolls focusing on what is about to emerge, not what has already happened. Leaders and teams can take a more relaxed mindset and enjoy the challenge of looking ahead, not the angst of chasing to keep up. Said another way, PI reminds us to stop broadcasting our ideas and opinions so we have the mental space to listen to what others are telling us. After all, if you’re not listening, how will you be able to spot market transitions, and capitalize on them?

Not convinced? Still believe that a strong and vocal argument is the best way to make your point? Let’s go back to Peter Bregman, who explains, “Arguing does not change minds — if anything, it makes people more intransigent.”

So why do so many people persist in broadcasting instead of listening? Bregman goes on to say, “We don’t [listen] because it’s uncomfortable. It requires that we listen to perspectives with which we may disagree and listen to people we may not like. But that’s what teamwork — and leadership — calls us to do.  To listen to others, to see them fully, and to help them connect their desires, perspectives, and interests with the larger outcome we all, ultimately, want to achieve.”

In case you’re thinking listening-centric leadership is a fleeting fad, it has actually been around for thousands of years! In fact, Lau Tzu, the ancient Chinese philosopher wrote: A leader is best when people barely know he exists, when his work is done, his aim fulfilled, they will say: we did it ourselves.

Lao Tzu_a leader is best option4

This is a leadership style that comes naturally to many women. I don’t physically have a loud speaking voice and sometimes struggle to be heard in forums designed to reward the person who can shout the loudest. Because of this, I tend to listen more than I shout, which could be seen by some as weakness. However, when I do speak, I like to think it is with knowledge and wisdom. I make it count.

 What’s your management style? In this noisy, digital world in which we live are you going to shout above the noise or be quiet – and listen to what you hear?

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Next Generation Executive Leadership Team

Today I’m extremely proud and excited to announce my next generation executive leadership team who will lead Cisco into the digital age.

With the increasing pace and complexity of today’s market, it’s critical that our leadership team understands our customers, delivers results, brings diverse perspectives and experiences, and builds world-class, highly motivated teams. This is what will differentiate us as a much faster, innovative organization that delivers the best results for our customers.

We have been developing and attracting our next generation of leaders for many years, and I’m confident that this team is ready to lead Cisco’s next chapter. They know how Cisco works, what makes Cisco great, and how we can accelerate our current momentum. Some have been with the company for as long as I have or longer, a third have joined Cisco in the last 3 years, and others are new to Cisco.

They have the capabilities, accomplishments, and the values required to lead us into the future. Their combined vision, passion and authenticity, along with a focus on strategy, results, and innovation truly differentiate this team. These unique characteristics reflect the remarkable culture of Cisco that has motivated and energized me for the past 17 years.

Executive Leadership Team

Let me explain why each person is the ideal leader to move us forward.

Pankaj Patel, Executive Vice President, Development

  • Everything we do starts with our innovation. Pankaj leads Cisco’s 25,000 development engineers and the company’s $36 billion technology portfolio.
  • He joined Cisco through the acquisition of Stratacom and has since overseen Cisco’s innovation in the cloud, mobility, data center, security, collaboration, software and the Internet of Everything markets.
  • Over the last 2 years, Pankaj has led the transformation of Cisco’s engineering organization to drive focus and accelerate innovation. He is pioneering new ways of driving innovation at Cisco, including a new model of internal start-ups which he launched last year.

Kelly Kramer, Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

  • Kelly joined Cisco three years ago after 20 years at GE working across numerous divisions and countries around the world.
  • She quickly established herself as a business leader capable of partnering across and influencing the entire organization, particularly with her no-nonsense direct style.
  • She has driven a disciplined focus on our financial model and delivered on our commitments to our shareholders.
  • Her promotion to CFO 3 quarters ago was seamless, and she is extremely well respected internally and externally.

Rebecca Jacoby, Senior Vice President, Operations

  • Previously Chief Information Technology Officer (CIO), Rebecca has a strong track record of operational excellence, innovative problem solving, and partnering cross-functionally. Her leadership and talent development skills have resulted in some of the best employee satisfaction scores in the company.
  • She has elevated the role of IT at Cisco and positioned us as one of the best in the industry. She has exemplified Fast IT, enabling $5.4B of incremental revenue in the last 4+ years with just $400M of incremental expense. She did all of this while driving down costs by over 5% each year.
  • Her experience in development, operations, supply chain and IT make enable her to drive Cisco’s continued focus on profitability, accountability, and world-class operational excellence.
  • Her deep relationships with CIOs around the world make her extremely well respected across the industry and she was recently inducted into the CIO Hall of Fame.
  • Guillermo Diaz has been promoted to CIO reporting directly to Jacoby. Diaz, most recently Cisco senior vice president of IT—Connected IT, has been accountable for the company’s enterprise IT architecture, technology strategy, and IT services/operating model.

Francine Katsoudas, Senior Vice President, Chief People Officer

  • Fran is the architect of Our People Strategy and Human Resources Organization, focusing on how Cisco wins in the talent marketplace while creating a compelling and unique employee experience.
  • She accelerates company transformation through leadership, attracting and retaining the best talent and building a culture of passion and innovation.
  • Fran is committed to ground breaking HR solutions, analytics and new talent models.

Chris Dedicoat, Senior Vice President, Worldwide Sales

  • Chris joined Cisco in 1995 and has served as Senior Vice President of EMEAR for the past four years where he has led the region to solid growth in a very challenging market.
  • Chris has a keen understanding of technology and market opportunities, an ability to drive transformation while running the business, and an unparalleled ability to lead and motivate teams.

Joe Cozzolino, Senior Vice President, Services

  • Joe has extensive global General Management experience in all facets of the business including engineering, sales, & services. He has a competitive edge and in his own words: “hates losing more than he loves winning.”
  • He began his career more than 25 years ago as a Systems Engineer designing video voice on fiber optics. For the last 2 years, Joe led Cisco’s Service Provider Mobility and Video Infrastructure businesses.
  • Before Cisco, he spent 12 years at Motorola in various executive roles successfully growing new businesses undergoing technology inflection.
  • Joe has an Electrical Engineering degree from the University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth, and an MBA from Annie Maria College.

Hilton Romanski, Senior Vice President and Chief Technology and Strategy Officer

  • Hilton has been responsible for the ‘buy’ in Cisco’s “build, buy, partner, integrate” strategy for growth and innovation
  • He has led over $20 billion in acquisitions in 40 deals, including Sourcefire, Meraki, and Airespace and was named Deal Maker of the Year in 2014 by The Deal.
  • He has also led Cisco’s M&A and investment entry into the emerging markets by forming and expanding teams and activities in China, India, Russia, Eastern Europe, and Latin America.
  • Hilton oversees Cisco’s corporate venture investment portfolio, currently valued at $2 billion, one of the highest performing corporate venture capital funds globally.
  • In his new role, Hilton will lead CTSO and be chartered to drive strategic development and growth of Cisco by applying important tools to nurture technology disruption, build alliance partnerships, acquire companies, invest in start-ups, and engage the global marketplace of ideas to drive Cisco’s success

Karen Walker, Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer

  • Karen joined Cisco six years ago from Hewlett-Packard, where she held business and consumer leadership positions including Vice President of Alliances and Marketing for HP Services, and Vice President of Strategy and Marketing.
  • Her 20-plus years in the IT industry have included senior field and marketing leadership roles in Europe, North America, and the Asia Pacific region.
  • Karen is a Board member of the I.T. Services Marketing Association and a member of the CMO Council North America Advisory Board, the Marketers that Matter Council, Advancing Executive Women (AWE) in Silicon Valley, and CRN’s 2013 Women of the Channel. She also sponsors multiple initiatives to accelerate female leadership within Cisco.

Mark Chandler, Senior Vice President and General Counsel

  • Mark joined Cisco’s Legal Department in 1996 when it had 12 employees; today we have a phenomenal team of legal, contract and compliance professionals of more than 400 people that is regularly ranked among the industry’s best.
  • Before Cisco, Mark was General Counsel at Maxtor, a Fortune 500 disk drive manufacturer, and at StrataCom.
  • Mark is a strong business leader with a keen ability to innovate, disrupt and provide tremendous input into our strategy. In 2010, The National Law Journal named him one of the 40 Most Influential Lawyers of the Decade and in 2013, American Lawyer numbered Mark among the “Top 50 Big Law Innovators of the Last 50 Years.”

Ruba Borno, VP, Growth Initiatives and Chief of Staff

  • Ruba will join Cisco from The Boston Consulting Group where she is a Principal and leader in the Technology, Media & Telecommunications, and People & Organization practice groups.
  • She holds a Ph.D. and a Master of Science in Electrical Engineering from the University of Michigan, and a Bachelor of Science in Computer Engineering with honors from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.
  • For the last seven years, Ruba has been advising enterprise and consumer technology executives on organizational change, increasing operational effectiveness, and accelerating business growth.
  • Ruba has been an Intel Ph.D. fellow at the National Science Foundation Engineering Research Center for Wireless Integrated MicroSystems, contributed to multiple peer-reviewed research publications, and is a supporter of Bay Area organizations tackling education and poverty challenges.

I am committed to investing in and developing Cisco’s extended leadership team over time. I plan to also look externally to fill several roles that will lead key growth initiatives in new markets. I am also committed to adding even more diversity of thought and experience over time, constantly strengthening both our bench and our decision making.

There are also a few individuals who have made tremendous contributions to Cisco who will be transitioning over the next few months. I am thankful for the years of partnerships I’ve had with these amazing leaders who will be leaving Cisco:

  • Wim Elfrink has served as Cisco’s Chief Globalization Officer since 2006 and opened Cisco’s second global headquarters in Bangalore, India. His leadership on smart cities and connected industries has helped define our vision for the next wave of the Internet, the Internet of Everything. Wim will retire from Cisco on July 25th and I want to thank him for his exceptional leadership and his passion for what is possible.
  • Padmasree Warrior is a highly respected leader who most recently served as Cisco’s Chief Strategy and Technology Officer. She is well known across the industry and the globe, and has been a champion internally for innovation, strategic partnerships, investments and mergers and acquisitions. Padmasree has led the success of many of our strategic partnerships and will remain with us until September to help finalize some of our key partnerships for the future. I am grateful for the impact she’s had on Cisco and her commitment to helping us finalize these important alliances.
  • Edzard Overbeek in his role as Senior Vice President of Cisco Services has been an incredible partner to me for many years. He has made the decision to leave Cisco after 15 years at the company and leadership roles in every region around the world. Edzard has agreed to stay on through the transition as a strategic advisor on key disruptive strategies that he has shown great passion for while at Cisco. His vision and energy will ensure his success in his next venture, something I hope will be closely connected to Cisco.

We are so fortunate that these leaders are able to remain with us in the near-term to finish key projects and ensure a smooth transition. I believe this is a testament to the Cisco culture as well as their commitment, service, and leadership.

Going forward, my new team will define and build the next chapter for Cisco together. I’m extremely confident we will move even faster, innovate like never before, and pull away from the competition. This is an incredible team with a diverse set of experiences, expertise and backgrounds to accelerate our innovation and execution, simplify how we do business, drive operational rigor in all we do, and inspire our amazing employees to be the best they can be.

This new leadership team, along with the deep talent and passion of all of Cisco, gives me absolute confidence that we will lead, and our customers will win. I’ve never been more excited to build our future together.

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