How cisco connects with its women workforce


Network solutions company Cisco aims to create a woman-friendly work environment with the end objective of developing more women leaders. 

It is rare to find women occupying leadership positions in the technology business. However, the leading networking solutions company, Cisco, has activated itself to turn this trend into a misnomer. The company has successfully motivated a bunch of its women employees through a programme called Cisco Connected Women (CCW).

The programme, which was launched worldwide a decade back, today boasts of 1,100 members in India. Globally, CCW has more than 4,000 members across its 37 chapters. Its core objective is to enable women employees to enjoy a smooth career growth through networking opportunities, mentoring sessions, workshops, community initiatives and career development resources.

Cisco’s women-friendly work environment aims to boost the morale and improve job satisfaction among women employees. It realises that success on this front is crucial in enhancing the company’s socially responsible corporate image.

CCW has had a significant contribution in Cisco’s plan to hire and develop talented female employees, and also achieve a more diverse, globally competitive workforce.

As part of this programme, the company nominates women employees who are sent to the international conference, Grace Hopper, which promotes the technical talent of women employees. From just a handful of participants in the initial days, today there are more than 130 attendees and over 35 paper submissions.

The company seeks both internal and external participation through this programme. Internally, CCW guides upcoming talent via the Role Model Series and various technical and non-technical mentoring programmes. It also works with HR and LDSG organisations on JUMP and DARE programmes to develop and grow a mid-level talent pool.

The company’s efforts are not just limited to one-off events. As a regular practice, it offers a flexible work style, telecommuting and onsite day care facility to accommodate the growing needs of its diverse workforce.

The leadership council typically comprises middle management representatives usually nominated by the executive sponsors of the ERG. The leads are drawn from the various units to ensure cross-functional leadership. The core team, which works under the direction of the leadership council, is voluntary and comprises women who are passionate about diversity in the workplace. CCW is open to all employees of the organization

Like any other initaitives, CCW also had its own set of challenges. The biggest challenge was dilution of branding which has now been managed by spreading the word through appropriate stakeholders and conveying value statements to the right constituency.

Now, CCW attracts a high number of female employees as participants at every event. The company claims that most events and programmes are typically sold out within an hour of opening up registrations!

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