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Daily CSR
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Unlocking Career Success: Embrace Sponsorship with Cisco's TME Pledge


Unlocking Career Success: Embrace Sponsorship with Cisco's TME Pledge
Did you know that despite almost 90 percent of companies having sponsorship programs in 2021, only 33 percent of Black employees had sponsors, with even fewer feeling support to advance in their careers? Shockingly, the number of Black employees with sponsors dropped to as low as five percent a year later.
To address this issue, Cisco sees The Multiplier Effect (TME) as part of the solution. Through sponsorship, TME aims to advance the careers of underrepresented groups in the tech industry, including women, the Latine community, and Black talent.
Sponsorship is a mutually beneficial relationship where leaders leverage their influence to advocate for the career advancement of their sponsees. Unlike mentorship, sponsorship involves a commitment to actively support and introduce sponsees to new opportunities. Cisco has made strides in this area, with 100 percent of its leaders at or above the vice president level taking the TME pledge to sponsor across differences in FY23.
For Black employees, being sponsored has significant benefits. Studies show that Black managers are 65 percent more likely to advance in their careers if they have sponsors, and Black employees are 60 percent less likely to quit within a year compared to their unsponsored peers. Moreover, diverse teams have been linked to better decision-making, higher performance, improved bottom lines, and more.
Cisco has been proactive in promoting sponsorship as part of its commitment to social justice. Since launching its Social Justice Beliefs and 12 Actions in 2020, backed by a five-year, $300 million commitment, the company has seen promising progress. By enhancing hiring practices, interview training, sponsorship, and other initiatives, Cisco has witnessed a significant increase in representation of African American/Black employees across all levels.
Sponsorship begins with leaders but benefits everyone involved. Michelle Lee, Senior Manager of ONEx Employee Engagement at Cisco, is a testament to this. Throughout her 28-year career at Cisco, she has excelled both as a sponsee and sponsor, demonstrating the positive impact of sponsorship on career development.

What prompted your involvement in sponsorship?
My motivation stems from a profound interest in people, culture, career development, and fostering talent growth. Early in my professional journey, I recognized the pivotal role of having an advocate to support career progression. Sponsors serve as staunch supporters who are willing to champion your work, achievements, value, and strengths, paving the way for you to achieve your utmost potential. Embracing our company motto, "One Company, Many Careers,"

I've navigated through various roles in sales, communications, program management, and more. Numerous leaders have advocated for me, and I'm driven to reciprocate that positive energy by sharing my personal journey to inspire others. Witnessing the success and growth of others brings me immense joy and gratitude.
What aspect of sponsorship inspires you?
Sponsorship lies at the core of our business and is fundamental to our company's growth. It plays a pivotal role in empowering employees to evolve their skills, learning, and development. Cisco relies on employees who continuously seek growth, supported by sponsors who facilitate and encourage this progress.
What advice do you have for employees hesitant about seeking sponsorship? And what guidance would you offer to leaders contemplating sponsorship for the first time?
For employees considering sponsorship: Take ownership of your career. Seek out a sponsor who can facilitate your career advancement. Recognize that you can't navigate your career journey alone, so seize this opportunity for support. Allow someone to assist you, and embrace the multitude of opportunities that arise. I stand as a testament to the transformative power of sponsorship!

For prospective sponsors: It's not only the right thing to do but also a fulfilling endeavor. Engaging with individuals from diverse perspectives and backgrounds while aiding them in their career progression brings a profound sense of gratitude and fulfillment.
Make Your Impact: Embrace Sponsorship!
Diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts are ongoing commitments, not limited to specific occasions like World Day of Social Justice or Black History Month. At Cisco, social justice is a daily pursuit.

We extend an invitation to join us in our commitment to equity by taking the TME pledge. Whether through supporting Cisco's 12 Social Justice Actions or participating in The Multiplier Effect, each individual has a vital role in shaping an inclusive future for all.