This is a guest post by Toni Davis, Cisco Public Relations Manager
It’s International Women’s Day. What are your favorite programs at Cisco that positively impact women?
Holistically, Cisco’s recruiting and development programs are the foundation that empower women at Cisco. When we recruit, Cisco prioritizes building a diverse slate of talent to interview at both university and professional levels. Our recruiters use a software program to review job descriptions and remove biased language so we’re able to attract a diverse candidate pool across many aspects, including gender. Having a diverse slate of interviewers can also lead to a better interview experience for candidates and bring more women into our talent pipeline.
We’ve also had great success empowering women to build skills for technical careers through our Cisco Networking Academy program. For example, North Carolina’s Megan Chapman entered tech when she saw the Networking Academy at Stanly Community College and decided to apply. Before enrolling, she says, she didn’t even know how to open a computer case, and today she works as a PC analyst.
Once women are in roles at Cisco, we provide professional development for women at every level from our Early in Career program that identifies and strengthens leadership, to the Professional/Mid-Career Level with training to build skills and prepare for more senior roles. At the Executive Level, a number of senior leaders participate in the International Women’s Forum. Cisco also sponsors The Simmons Leadership Conference—the nation's premier one-day professional development event for women which is geared towards women at every stage of their careers.
At Cisco’s Research Triangle Park (RTP), NC, location where I am based, each year we host the global Women of Impact event. This event – which coincides with International Women’s Day – is attended by over 15,000 Cisco employees, partners, and customers in over 100 sites across 52 countries. It also features a global broadcast from five different sites around the world that are open to the public. I have been honored to keynote the WOI RTP event twice and to have sponsored of our Cisco Connected Women’s group in RTP, Singapore and Sydney.
I believe the greatest value Cisco provides with these events, in addition to the learning and development components, is the ability to network and share experiences and encouragement with colleagues in different roles and departments.
You lead Cisco’s Employee Services, which strives to make the company an employer of choice and a great place to work. Why should women choose to work at Cisco?
In addition to being an industry leader that’s changing the way we live, work, play and learn, Cisco is ranked as the #2 company for Best Workplaces for Parents. Cisco is a great place for women to work because our collaboration technology, Cisco Webex, allows geographically-dispersed teams to meet as if they were in the same room. This allows full participation from anywhere, any time, and provides all employees the flexibility to be fully engaged while balancing work and life.
Cisco is also a great place for working parents and caregivers. Our Becoming a Parent program provides an extended leave of 13-weeks for newborns, adoptions and grandparents. We also have programs to ship breast milk for travelling moms and even freeze eggs.
You’ve worked at Cisco for 20 years - how have you seen women’s roles evolve?
When I started at the company, there were few visible women in leadership. As the company has grown, Cisco has made enormous strides at the Vice President level and in the C-Suite. In fact, our C-Suite is 42% women and 58% diverse in terms of gender and ethnicity, and our female VP population has grown to 22%. Cisco is walking the talk and empowering women to lead from the top.
It’s personally important to me to see the progress that women are making in Tech and also to recognize the role men are playing to confront bias and promote inclusion. I’m proud so see Cisco’s ally network, Men for Inclusion, partnering to promote gender diversity, mentoring, leadership by example, and awareness of unconscious bias. Perhaps the most important role we all can play is to encourage women to speak up and bring diverse opinions to the conversation. We can only be truly successful when all our colleagues can bring their full-spectrum diversity – inclusive of abilities, genders, generations, cultures, ethnicities, orientations, work styles, and points of view – to bear on the constant change that faces our industry.
Getting personal here, we know that you are not only a Senior Vice President, but also a mom. Are your children in technology fields?
Yes. My husband Dave and I have four daughters, three sons-in-law, and three grandchildren. One daughter works here in Raleigh at a tech company and two others work in roles that are tech-enabled. Our youngest is looking at colleges and wants to pursue a degree in chemical engineering. We’re immensely proud of them all.