Years ago, I had to talk a tattoo artist friend of mine into inking my wrist with a bright green shamrock. For all my other tattoos, he never hesitated. For this one though, it came with a warning.

Getting Inked for the 5th time.

“You realize companies may not hire you with a visible tattoo.”

Two years later, I stumbled upon a job posting that I thought was my “dream job” – I answered their questions accurately, and was immediately denied.

I knew why. They asked if I had any visible tattoos, and I had answered, “Yes.” My talents and skills were never even considered.

I didn’t want to work for a company that couldn’t even see that, perhaps, there’s more to the story than just a girl with a tattoo.

Of course, there’s a bit more to that story – but all you really need to know is that after a couple of years with a company that didn’t mind my tattoos one bit – I grew those talents and skills, and met a friend who would later introduce me to Cisco. And, that’s how I ended up here and now – confidently able to be my authentic self. Plus, I just added some new ink, and thought nothing of it, because Cisco embraces our uniqueness. 😊

But, I’m certainly not the only Inked Cisconian! Here’s a couple friends I’ve made recently who helped to inspire this post:

Alfredo Gutierrez – Cloud Admin Engineer | San Jose, California

I love art and was a graffiti artist growing up so naturally I love ink art, my favorite is my left forearm tat — it’s a turntable and record from my younger days of DJ’ing.

My Experience has been up and down with how people react to my tattoos in general, I tend to notice that older folks seem to be more judgmental, but all my ink has been well received.

People with ink are just people that don’t mind a little pain for a permanent piece of art, I think it’s great that Cisco as a company is encouraging this motto of being yourself.

When I first started working at Cisco I wore long sleeve shirts for the first four months because I didn’t see anyone in the building that had any ink, and wasn’t quite sure of if there was a policy in place. One day, I finally saw another inked colleague and asked about policy, but she told me that she didn’t know of one.

I asked my manager, and while it took some time to come to a conclusion, he said as long as they weren’t offensive they were okay and to use my best judgement. I’ve been rocking my ink ever since with no negative feedback or judgement around the office.

Yana Lipen – Candidate Experience Coordinator | Krakow, Poland

I have always loved tattoos, and it was always a dream to have one. When I was 18 I got a tattoo of a small rose on my left shoulder. I worked at an HR office at the time that had no issue with my tattoo.

In 2012, I decided to add tattoos of an old frame, and then a corset to my shoulder – more and more tattoos soon followed! I really like a pirate theme in my tattoos – so many adventures are in this big part of history. So, many of my tattoos are tied to that. On my right hand I have one big sleeve with an old pirate’s ship and underwater world.

So many people told me that I would have a problem finding a good job if I got tattoos, and for a while that scared me. But I still decided to go for it. At one of my first jobs, I was a receptionist and I worked with people a lot, so I wore sleeves every day – no matter the temperature! Some days, when it was warm, I looked a bit silly.

This is 2017, we should be progressing and accepting of others. The result of the job will not be worse, just better because the employee can truly be themselves! When the employee is happy – the results of the work are better and better!  😊

When I realized that I didn’t have to hide my tattoos at Cisco and that I can be myself here – I was so happy about it! My friends did not believe me that in such a big company like Cisco I can wear what I want – and my tattoos are not a problem at all. It is so cool that Cisco really cares about employees, I feel happy and comfortable here.

It is my hope that other companies will look to Cisco as an example and no one will be judged by the shell they wear, only by their true talents and skills. 😊

5th Tattoo – Unlocked!

Let’s change the world together ❤ Freedom for tattoos! 😊


I think I can speak for us all when I say we’re proud to work for a company that encourages us – and expects us – to be our true selves.

To tattoo or not to tattoo? Share your story in the comments below or employees, we’d love you to show us your ink on social media and tag #WeAreCisco!


Want to work for a company that allows you to be yourself? We’re hiring!



Casie Shimansky

Content Strategist | Provider of Pixie Dust

Employee Storytelling