Lauren in Conexion shirt making posole. There is power in community, and if this year showed us anything – 2020 proved just how powerful our communities are. For me, my community runs deep in family and friends – and, also at work.  

Through the team I’m on, Employee/Employer Brand, being a #WeAreCisco ambassador, and the Employee Resource Organizations (ERO) – like Conexión – that I am a part of, I am constantly reminded of the strong sense of community we have at Cisco. This has always been a large part of Cisco’s culture, but this year – more than ever – we saw how important community is as we leaned on and supported one another virtually. 

True, we could no longer meet in person to celebrate an event or share a meal, but that hasn’t stopped us from celebrating, connecting, and learning and growing together through Webex 

Our Cisco EROs help us to come together, and to innovate, exchange ideas and think globally. So, in mid-June when I had the privilege to attend a particularly memorable Virtual Cafecito Event hosted by the leadership of Conexión and our Connected Black Professionals (CBP) ERO – I was all in 

The purpose was to showcase how Conexión stands in solidarity with the Black community and to have a heart to heart to better educate ourselves to be stronger allies. 

This was my first Virtual Cafecito and so I did not know what to expect – to my surprise, there were over 100+ attendees on a 4pm Pacific call with a global audience! The conversation was timely, and the facilitators acknowledged this would be a critical conversation about justice and how society is not equitable; it would be interesting and partially uncomfortable.  

They weren’t wrong. 

A pot of Pozole sits on the stove for the Conexion HHM Celebration.

During the chat, there was a little history and examples shared on how the experience of the Black community is ‘nothing new’. I learned that oppressed people can still benefit in an oppressive society, yet not without consequences. And that the most important ‘resource’ we have is our voice. In using our voices together, we can create effective change. 

We also talked about leadership, success, and what that looks like for each of us, “What does success really look like? Are you comfortable if that success means less of you and more of me?” 

These questions struck me 

After hearing someone share so openly the hardship and struggle in their story, you can’t help but take them with you moving forward. If my success truly aligns to Cisco’s vision to provide an inclusive future for all (and I know it does), then everyone around me can’t look exactly like me or share my same views and perspectives. This is how we grow stronger – together.

I already knew the strength in community, but to feel it moved to an even deeper meaning after a 1-hour event speaks to the impact that our EROs have – they, and Cisco, are a safe place to be challenged with what we don’t know resulting in how much we can grow.  

This open, difficult conversation reminded me of how special Cisco is. Not only because they allow these dialogues to occur, but because they encourage them wholeheartedly. We know there is work to be done, but we’re dedicated to doing that work – together. 


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Lauren Grimaldo

Talent Brand Manager & Social Media Specialist

Global Talent Brand Team