I recently had to ask myself, “What am I doing to make my “mini-world” better, and who am I connecting myself with?”
With much consideration, I came to the conclusion that if your network isn’t stacked with diversity, then that network has a higher likelihood of failing you. Groups that aren’t diverse don’t welcome the idea of inclusion, so there definitely isn’t any collaboration or engagement. It is simply the same conversation happening over and over again, and I knew I wanted my own experience with others to be different.
There were two things that first attracted me to working at Cisco – their extreme focus on Corporate Social Responsibility, and their belief that you should bring your whole self to work. I wanted to be somewhere that wouldn’t make feel like an outcast, and that would embrace all of me and what I have to offer.
I also knew that I wanted to be around people that didn’t necessarily look, talk, or think like me. There is beauty in the unknown and it’s something that should be celebrated! Whether I am turning to my co-workers as I search for opposing opinions, ideas, and beliefs or asking their advice on how a particular technology can be integrated in my customer’s network environment; my network here at Cisco is diverse, and runs deep.
Recently, my Cisco family and I went on a hiking trip that got us out of the office and enabled us to bond further. Cisconians live for moments together away from our day-to-day work! In these pictures it’s not just a bunch of millennials posing, but rather it’s what a healthy network looks like to me. It’s not just a random mix of ethnicities or races, it goes deeper than skin tone, religion, and age.
Our hikes and getaways are opportunities to bond and build relationships – they are our way of letting the world know that maybe we do not all look or act or think alike, but we all have something valuable to offer each other and to our global community.
On these trips, we openly discuss what’s happening in our “mini-worlds”…our conversations are real and raw and without judgment. Our relationships are constantly evolving and revolving around the pressing fact that we need each other to be better and to do better.
Making yourself vulnerable and opening up to someone who may not have a similar background should be looked at as an opportunity to educate or learn.
Doing so in a larger environment, I think reminds us that we are humans, not robots…and quiet honestly, it can be a sobering experience for a lot people.
I think it is important to rethink and review your network frequently – and really question how diverse those around you are. Can you learn from those around you, are you able to teach them about your culture as well? If so, great! Now is a perfect time to continue that great work and inspire a peer of yours!
If you think your network may need some work – then now is a great time to utilize Cisco and our inspiring Employee Resource Organizations (ERO) that focus on inclusion and collaboration. Each ERO has their own platform and is able to speak out on issues that matter the most to them.
There are a plethora of different organizations from Connected Black Professionals (CBP), Conexión, Connected Women (CW), and Men for Inclusion to PRIDE, Women in Science and Engineering (WISE) and Cisco Disability Awareness Network (CDAN) – there is an ERO for everyone! Joining an ERO can help you to engage in enriching conversations and gain a better understanding of what’s happening in the world around you. It’s a great way to learn about that many varied cultures that go into making us Cisco, and supporting our fellow Cisconians!
Every day we work on finding ways to solve complex issues and make things simple for our customers, but often we forget that our neighbors are facing issues and challenges as well. I think now is a great time to step out of your comfort zone and attend a meeting or social event – you never know what you’ll learn or if you’ll meet a new friend in the process. The only requirement for joining these EROs is that you must support their vision and aid in empowering them.
At the end of the day we can’t really say, “We connect the unconnected” if we, ourselves, are disconnected. To be rich is one thing, but to wealthy is another…never forget your net worth is network!
For more information on Cisco EROs, please visit their website here.
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