Diversity Woman Magazine

WIN 2017

Leadership and Executive Development for women of all races, cultures and backgrounds

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18 D I V E R S I T Y W O M A N W i n t e r 2 0 1 7 d i v e r s i t y w o m a n . c o m We Mean Business > RJ: CIO is one of the few roles that touches every aspect of a business. It is a learning experience that feels like drinking from a fire hose. Cisco IT is well respected and rec- ognized internally and externally as a team with high value-add. During my tenure, we transformed into an "architecture- led, services-everything" organization. I am most proud of the team itself: smart, driven to excellence, community orient- ed, and super fun. ey will sustain and surpass anything we have achieved so far. DW: You are one of the highest-ranking women at Cisco. The numbers are rising slowly, but why do you think there are still so few women at the highest levels of leadership in the tech industry? RJ: Changing cultural norms is, by na- ture, a slow process. My experience is that teams with less than 30 percent gen- der diversity are hindered by unintended communication norms: "unwritten pro- tocols" are confusing to the "outside" par- ticipants and may result in responses that are not productively received by the "in- side" participants. Change requires overt, conscious efforts across the board, a big dose of patience, and, most certainly, a sense of humor. It is hard work. DW: What is the solution to bring more gender equity to tech? What is Cisco do- ing on this front? RJ: It takes conscious action to create gender equity and an environment of inclusion and collaboration. Cisco rec- ognizes that having a diverse workforce facilitates both creativity and innovation, and we are committed to action. By in- vesting in inclusion training for our re- cruiters, we've seen a 14 percent increase globally in the number of women candi- dates interviewed this year. We're also ac- celerating the adoption of diverse inter- viewer panels—of mixed gender and/or ethnicity—which we know significantly increases the odds of hiring women. At Cisco, we believe that accelerating the development of female leaders starts at the top. Over a third of our Executive Leadership Team today are women. And we're building a pipeline of female talent through a variety of programs. We also have a number of global employee affinity communities like Connected Women, Women in Science and Technology, and Women in CyberSecurity that provide powerful networking and career develop- ment opportunities. Perhaps most importantly, an active focus on pay parity helps us build the trusting environment that drives the best teams, allows us to retain the best talent, and positions us as a top employer for both genders. DW: When you mentor up-and-coming women, how do you advise them to work within this male-dominated field? RJ: All cultures and subcultures have unwritten protocols of communication that present themselves in group set- tings. Different functions, nationalities, and genders have them. When you are the outsider in a nondiverse team, you tend to process events through your own cultural filter. I have a few funny stories about my own frustrating experiences. e takeaway is this: Spend your en- ergy learning and sharing different per- spectives. Have fun with this and fight the urge to get hung up on it. DW: What basic business skills should complement the STEM background and tech savvy that many tech workers have? RJ: Fundamental knowledge of finance and accounting is important. Communicating in a diverse environment is also a necessary skill. DW: What leadership lesson did you learn the hard way? RJ: Early in my career I subscribed to the idea that you treat people the way you would like to be treated. I learned that people are motivated differently: listen, and treat people the way they would like to be treated. DW: What do you look for when you hire? RJ: Beyond specific expertise and measur- able results, I look to fill team gaps—for instance, do we need more global experi- ence?—and to understand the leadership thought process of candidates: how they meet challenges and how they create fol- lowership. DW: What business-world expression, or corporate lingo, kind of gets on your nerves? RJ: Accountability is as critical as ever— especially in an age where information is broadly available—but one expression that bothers me is "one throat to choke." e authoritarian hierarchy is a leader- ship construct that is under extreme pressure: to solve challenges at the speed of business today takes a collaborative ef- fort among leaders with diverse skills and backgrounds. DW Katrina Brown Hunt is a regular contributor to Diversity Woman.

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