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Daily CSR

Daily CSR
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Career opportunities for women at Cisco


Bennett College was founded in the basement of St. Matthews Methodist Episcopal Church in Greensboro, North Carolina in 1873. They are one of only two all-women Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) in the United States, and their mission is to prepare "women of colour to lead with purpose, integrity, and a strong sense of self-worth through a transformative liberal arts education."

In honour of Women's History Month, I encourage you to learn more about their rich "herstory."

Cisco has taken significant steps to combat injustice and inequity around the world. One of the most powerful examples of the bold actions we're taking is our $150 million commitment through Social Justice Action 8 to preserve the legacy and sustainability of HBCUs.

While that commitment includes driving technology modernization and improving STEM education at HBCUs, Cisco is also actively investing in their students' futures — and I am pleased to report that those investments continued earlier this month at Bennett College.

Bennett College
Bennett College was founded in 1926 as a private, four-year historically black liberal arts college for women. Throughout our partnership, we have worked to establish Bennett College as a Networking Academy, assisted with student recruitment, provided guidance on funding grants, and assisted in improving their network security for remote learning through a National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Assessment. Bennett College has also requested mentorship, job shadowing, and guest lectures from Cisco professionals in order to better prepare Bennett students for life after college. These opportunities align with Action 8 initiatives and will allow Cisco to continue to support Bennett College's sustainability and legacy.

Women of colour are frequently subjected to racism and discrimination in academic and professional settings. Bennett College, for example, has the advantage of providing a supportive, inclusive, and justice-oriented approach to education. Bennett College operationalizes student support through special convocations, lectures, and seminars that comprise their Academic Cultural Enrichment Series (ACES), which is designed to enhance the student population's cultural and intellectual development. Cisco's dedication to student success, accelerating young AA/B talent, and leaving a lasting legacy for future generations provides an excellent foundation for a symbiotic partnership with Bennett College and augments student support.

As Bennett College's Executive Sponsor, I collaborated with Wesley Carter, CX Sr. Program Manager, and Bennett College to create an ACES event that delivered an important message to Bennett's liberal arts students: You don't have to major in computer sciences to be valuable to a technology company like Cisco!

It's a powerful message, and one that we can continue to build on to demonstrate to Bennett students that even entry-level digital and cybersecurity skills can boost their competitive edge, no matter what career path they choose. Bennett College's Director of Academic Special Initiatives, Dr. Santiba Campbell, suggested an all-woman panel and a focus on liberal arts rather than STEM because Bennett College is primarily a liberal arts college.

Women in Cisco - Panel Discussion
The evidence-based approach was one of the most important aspects of this event. It was moderated by Shaina Tamburr, VP, CX Programs & Compliance, and featured a panel of diverse, liberal arts-educated, successful women from various areas within Cisco, ranging from project management to sales and marketing. These accomplished women gathered to share their unique career and life stories, as well as to welcome Bennett College's liberal arts students to engage with Cisco. We increased Cisco's commitment to student success by inviting our Emerging Talent Diversity Engagement Team to develop a portal specifically for students to upload their resumes and be considered for future Cisco opportunities!

The connection between the speakers and the students was palpable, and after sharing their stories, our panellists had the opportunity to answer the following insightful questions in front of the students:
  • What has been your most significant professional challenge?
  • How have mentors aided your development as a leader? What path did you take to get there?
  • How would you advise your 21-year-old self?

After the event, the students were given contact information for all of the panelists so that they could reach out and ask questions to better prepare themselves for a career in the tech industry.

Bennett College's Women in Cisco event was a success because it provided students with valuable insights into working in the tech industry, as well as an opportunity to network with successful liberal arts majors — including two Bennett College alumnae!

Above all, this was a significant step towards strengthening the relationship between Bennett College and Cisco:

“I hope both of you are doing well and still glowing from a great experience Friday at Bennett College! Thank you for all of the hard work in planning, organizing and communicating for the Women in Cisco ACES panel. I look forward to more opportunities and sponsorships for us to work together,” said Dr. Santiba Campbell, Director of Academic Special Initiatives, Bennett College.

I am genuinely proud to be a part of a company that is dedicated not only to providing non-technical students with opportunities and exposure in the IT field, but also to the strategic recovery, sustainability, and legacy of HBCUs like Bennett College.

Let us continue to collaborate to power an inclusive future for all by identifying new ways to put our beliefs into action, especially as we commemorate Women's History Month.