I’m a numbers guy. So, it really got my attention when I learned that businesses which make diversity and inclusion a priority do better than others. In fact, U.S. companies in the top quartile for gender diversity have 15 percent higher financial performance than the national industry median. And for ethnic diversity the difference is even more dramatic, with 35 percent better financial performance.
Of course, numbers aren’t the motivating factor, just the resultant. At Cisco, we value inclusion and diversity because it’s the right thing to do for our employees and customers. It’s a bonus that it’s also the right thing to do for our shareholders.
We have a wide-reaching view of diversity—embracing the full spectrum of backgrounds, genders, ethnicities, orientations, cultures, affiliations, abilities, work styles, and perspectives. Our customers are everywhere and represent everyone. It’s important that the company reflects this rich diversity so we can understand and deliver on the unique needs of our customers worldwide.
Cisco’s commitment to inclusion starts at the top. I’m proud to be part of one of the most diverse executive leadership teams in the technology industry. Our leadership is stronger when it is informed by different perspectives, experiences, and points of view. We have been very deliberate in driving a consistent approach to fairness and inclusion throughout our organization—monitoring pay parity, attracting a competitive share of diverse talent, and using data and analytics to accelerate our progress.
Building a truly diverse and inclusive company—and industry—starts with commitment, but can only go forward with action. Here are two examples:
1. Support initiatives that build diverse leadership
The Simmons Leadership Conference is top-of-mind for me right now, because this remarkable women’s leadership event is coming up in October in Geneva, Switzerland. I am proud to be an executive sponsor on behalf of Cisco. And I am even prouder that my VP and Chief of Staff, Jose van Dijk, is on the agenda. She will join prominent global leaders in government, business, and social change on the stage—inspiring 500 women who are leaders in their own organizations. I’m happy to say that, in addition to our financial support, Cisco will be sending significant representation of women leaders. I encourage you to attend or sponsor someone to attend this career-changing event.
2. Take the Multiplier Effect pledge
The Multiplier Effect pledge was launched in February at the 2017 Mobile World Congress, with Cisco’s CEO Chuck Robbins and more than 40 other tech leaders leading the way. The idea is to use the power of sponsorship to accelerate the pipeline of extraordinary diverse talent in tech. This pledge challenges leaders to go beyond lip service and make a personal commitment to be an advocate for someone who is different from them in race, culture, ability, gender, generation, ethnicity, or orientation. Leaders who sign the pledge commit to:
- Sponsor a highly qualified diverse candidate for career advancement
- Challenge peers to do the same
- Stay accountable to their protégé and their peers
So, I’m challenging you! Join me in taking the multiplier effect pledge. Consider this:
- 1 in 4 white men have a sponsor
- Only 1 in 8 women have a sponsor
- And only 1 in 20 minorities have a sponsor
- Yet – research from the Center for Talent Innovation shows that having a sponsor increases your success rate by 23%
By actively promoting the career of just one diverse candidate, you will uncover hidden talent and multiply new perspectives and opportunities.
And—getting back to the numbers—your bottom line will be healthier for it.