Everyday should be International Women’s Day
As you may know, International Women’s Day took place on March 8th, with this year’s theme being #ChooseToChallenge, for a more inclusive, equal world. As always, Cisco has been taking part in the celebrations, devoting a day to the many successes of women within Cisco and beyond.
It’s over a hundred years since women gained the right to vote in the UK and a lot has been achieved since then in terms of equality. Yet disappointingly, there is still a very long way to go.
That’s why I decided to become the Executive Sponsor of Women in Cisco and pick up the torch on this important topic to me. And I was keen to participate in a day that reminds us all of women’s many achievements.
It may surprise some people that a man would want to be part of Women in Cisco. Yet I am a husband, and a father to a daughter on the brink of adulthood, so I have a personal interest in this. And it’s something that all men should care about.
Just as importantly, while I cannot fully understand the day-to-day experiences and challenges women face, I do know how it feels to be the only non-white male in a board room or directors’ meeting. Just like many (although nowhere near enough) women over the years.
I therefore understand that it can be overwhelming for women to express their views in meetings when all the other attendees are men. Or to apply for that role held previously by a man, where all the peers are men – and the interview panel is all male.
So it’s great to have one day a year where we can call out the achievements of women – but it’s also a call to women to apply for that role and express your views in those meetings.
Otherwise sentiments don’t translate into action and change, and we won’t move forward.
Challenge for action
Equality, regardless of our gender, religion, etc., is important for everyone. A workplace that reflects the experiences of as many of us as possible is more rounded and ultimately more successful. And there are many studies that demonstrate educating girls and women increases a country’s GDP.
So, what’s the answer?
We should start as early as possible, encouraging girls and young women to have a voice and feel confident using it in the workplace. My colleagues need to challenge women to be ambitious in the roles they apply for. And to look to pay parity in whatever sector they choose, whether technology, science or the arts.
That’s where corporations like Cisco, which have both global reach and resources, are leading the way. Very few companies have got it completely right yet – ours included – but having started tracking our diversity back in 1998, we remain committed to keep moving in the right direction.
We CAN change the world, and in Cisco, we can help steer the conversation and continue the momentum for change.
And from my own perspective, I hope that having so often been the ‘only one’ in the room myself, I can use this shared experience and play a small part in encouraging women in Cisco and other walks of life.
Join us on 10th March for Cisco’s Women of Impact Day to hear stories of some incredible women and to meet some of Cisco’s rising talent.Tags: