Cisco UK & Ireland Blog

Our differences combined make us stronger

September 9, 2020

Chintan Patel explains why he’s honoured to be a part of the Confederation of British Industry’s ‘BAME in Tech’ group

Growing up, I was often the only person of colour in a classroom and this has also been the case in teams I’ve worked in. Being ‘different’ has an impact on you; it ignites a passion to ensure diverse groups of people are treated equally and fairly represented.

Our differences combined make us stronger, which is why everyone should have their voice heard. When you bring people together from different backgrounds – be it ethnicities, genders, generations, cultures, orientations and abilities – we make a deeper connection through our differing and complimentary thoughts. And, this helps you to collaborate at exciting new levels, so you can inspire, innovate and create – as an organisation and industry. A Cisco survey found that 90% of CIOs believe technology will help drive an inclusive future as it’s a pathway that removes inequities, whilst also developing new opportunities, skills and economies.

At Cisco, we have an office of Inclusion & Collaboration and within this there are Employee Resource Organisations (EROs) that focus on extending knowledge, providing opportunities and supporting the diverse communities of interest. As signatories of the Race at Work Charter we have six pillars of diversity in the UK & Ireland – disability, ethnicity, gender, generation, LGBTQ+ and veterans – with the EROs providing representation for these communities. To support ethnicity, there’s the Connected Black Professionals and Indians Connecting People. We also have a UK & Ireland Inclusive Leadership Team who work with these EROs to champion diversity and inclusion.

Recognising it was a pivotal moment in time, our executive leadership team in June held a series of virtual check-ins for staff across the globe on racial injustice. It helped us understand that we have a duty as cultural creators to engage in these uncomfortable conversations, listen, learn, be accountable, contribute and support one another. We were fortunate at one session to have the co-founder of Colour in Tech, Ashleigh Ainsley, join us so we could learn about his experiences. He likened us as being trees in the Amazon rain forest and that for the Amazon to survive all the trees need to be able to grow, which is a spot-on analogy about the importance of inclusion.

As we look to the next generation, we were proud that this year’s intake of degree apprentices at Cisco UK was our most diverse to date – 47% are female, 42% are from minority ethnic groups and 35% are from disadvantaged socio-economic backgrounds. This is why I’m so honoured to be a part of the CBI’s ‘BAME in Tech’ group, because as an industry we must keep collaborating to encourage greater diversity and ensure inclusion. That way, we’ll invent even more amazing technologies that will change our worlds.

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  1. Great blog Chintan! It's a great step in the right direction to have more diverse apprentices – I have been mentoring some of them and its truly inspiring to see the positivity and perspectives they bring. The diversity statistics in the field are some what of a contrast and I trust that the implementation of the Race at Work charter and other measures will help over the coming years.