Tech giant Cisco is giving its 75,000 employees the day off on Friday to recharge
Cisco has told its employees they can take Friday, May 22, off, giving them a four-day Memorial Day weekend.In a Tuesday email to the tech giant’s 75,000 employees, Chief People Officer Fran Katsoudas said the day off was meant to help the recharge after weeks of working remotely amid the COVID-19 crisis.“It might feel like there are so many reasons not to take a day off,” Katsoudas said in an email. “There are few places to go, people need us, and we enjoy our work. Our weeks and weekends are blurring together. Yet there is one reason to unplug: ourselves.”Employees who have commitments to customers or have critical assignments on that day will be allowed to take another day off, Katsoudas said.Cisco, a leading maker of enterprise networking gear, saw an uptick in demand for its products in the crisis after businesses scrambled to make sure their employees have adequate equipment to work remotely.But as in other major corporations, Cisco employees have also faced challenges while working from home. Katsoudas said some employees have had to adjust to their children suddenly having to learn remotely, while others also have had to take care of elderly parents.“We have a subset of our employees who are home alone and just feeling isolated,” she said!Another tech giant, Google, has also asked employees to take Friday off to address work-from-home burnout issues.This article was first published on Business Insider Singapore.
Committing $225 million to global COVID-19 response
Our world is changing day to day and it is overwhelming for businesses, governments, families, and individuals globally. The Coronavirus-19 (COVID-19) pandemic has us living in a dynamic and intense time, and we are continuing to help all of our stakeholders navigate these difficulties as we always do.Last week, I shared our commitment to helping our customers, partners, and people around the world take advantage of technology in this time of massive and sudden transformation. Since then, a lot has changed. Many of us are adjusting to working from home and social distancing while all of us are working to understand this new normal. Through all this, one thing has become clear – Cisco must, and will, do even more to help others respond to this global pandemic.Many people in our communities were already struggling before this tragic pandemic. People who were already vulnerable are facing even more risks to their health, stability, housing, and well-being. Nonprofits are struggling to serve their populations as the number of volunteers declines due to social distancing practices and donations are at-risk due to financial concerns.That is why Cisco is committing $225 million in cash, in-kind, and planned-giving to support both the global and local response to COVID-19. In addition, we are rallying our 77,000 employees and encouraging them to give what they can to help our community partners on the front lines bolster their operations in this time of need.Supporting Global EffortsAs part of our commitment, we are allocating $8 million in cash and $210 million in product to the global coronavirus response. We are focusing these resources on supporting healthcare and education, government response and critical technology. Part of this will go to the United Nations Foundation’s COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund, supporting the World Health Organization’s (WHO) worldwide efforts to help prevent, detect, and manage the spread of COVID-19.Through our Country Digital Acceleration (CDA) program, we are providing funding for heads of state, government agencies, and businesses to rapidly deploy COVID-19-related technology solutions. We are also empowering those on the front lines with access to our critical technologies with our free Webex and Security offers. To date, we are helping to secure over 2.2 million people online, and Webex has facilitated virtual response meetings for the French, Canadian, German, Colombian, and other governments around the world.Supporting NonprofitsI am proud to say that thousands of Cisco employees in communities across 180 countries are focused on helping in any way they can. We have seen an outpouring of employees reaching out to contribute to the nonprofits helping their communities over the past few months. To support this, Cisco Foundation has launched a campaign allocating up to $5 million in grants and matching funds to make this happen.We have also established several funds to support a range of nongovernmental organizations in APJC, EMEAR, the Americas, and the San Francisco Bay Area. Additionally, we are launching a 72-hour employee giving campaign – “Let’s Give Together” – this week to encourage donations to these funds and to see how much we can raise in a few short days. I am so excited to see our teams work together virtually to support these causes. To support this, Cisco Foundation has launched an employee matching gift campaign of up to $4 million in total giving, and is allocating $1 million in additional grants to help nonprofit partnersWorking Together Across Silicon ValleyIn our own backyard, we are working closely with the Silicon Valley Community Foundation, Destination: Home, Second Harvest and leaders from various technology companies. I was humbled to see over 30 CEOs come together last week and pledge support for these and other organizations in our area over the coming days and weeks.In a testament to how quickly Silicon Valley companies can band together to address these challenges, tomorrow Cisco and several other companies will be announcing a multi-million-dollar financial assistance program for at-risk people. With support from Santa Clara County Supervisor Cindy Chavez, San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo, and Destination: Home’s CEO Jen Loving, we will be able to rapidly support low-income individuals during this time.The Path ForwardTogether, as we chart our path forward, I am certain that our people will continue to do what’s right for the world. Over the past few weeks, I have been incredibly inspired by the way I’ve seen people come together, inside and outside of Cisco, and this gives me tremendous hope. We will continue to monitor the impact of COVID-19 on our employees, customers, partners, and communities, and evaluate other ways we can help as things evolve. While our world will be different as we move into the future, it is important that we stay focused on making a positive impact in every way possible.Enjoyed this article? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below:
Celebrate: Moving Forward with Courage, Empathy, Equality, and Community
My first few versions of this post looked a lot different. Six weeks ago, our incredible Women of Cisco employee group, of which I am very proud to serve as the executive sponsor, approached me about writing the cumulative piece in our four-part Women of Impact series. I was thrilled to participate and to stand alongside three women I really admire: Rola Dagher, Vicki Batka, and Wendy Mars. My original plan was to write about the importance of owning your narrative, something that I’ve been passionate about for years. But that was six weeks ago, and the world has changed quite a bit since then.As we all continue to adjust to our new normal, Coronavirus is the lens that we all look through. It’s the prism that colors everything right now. And so, while the ultimate purpose of this post is to celebrate some amazing women, and to thank the Women of Cisco group for an incredible month, it’s important to ground the conversation in the reality of the moment. As Thomas Freidman wrote recently in the New York Times, there’s a new historical dividing line: Before Coronavirus (B.C.) and After Coronavirus (A.C.). We’re a long way from the A.C. part of the timeline, of course, but it does invite us to reflect on what’s important, what we need to change, and what we want to keep.I’ve been involved in women advocacy groups throughout my career, and I’ve found that three themes are concurrent through all of that work: courage, empathy, and equality. Having the courage to stand up for yourself, to stand up for others, to ask for help when you need it, and to offer help when you can provide it. To truly listen – not just hear but listen – to people’s stories and then work on seeing things from their perspective. And working through our conscious and unconscious biases to ensure we are giving equal value and equal weight to each of those perspectives.This is oversimplifying things a bit, but when we look at the challenges facing us today, tomorrow, and for the foreseeable future, those three themes have never been more important. As the world shifts under our feet on a seemingly minute-by-minute basis, we are going to need courage, empathy, and equality more than ever.I’ll add one more. Six weeks ago, the Women of Cisco team showed me the plan for the month and all of the amazing workshops and activities we had scheduled. It was all about community, and the power of coming together this International Women’s Month. Six weeks later, our need for a sense of community is even more critical, albeit virtual.Thank you to the Women of Cisco team and for everyone who came with us on this month-long journey. Whether it was Rola imploring us to “Use the power you have to empower and inspire others,” Vicki showing us the magic that happens when a spirit of giving back is woven into the corporate culture, or Wendy advising us to take stock of what gives us energy and what drains it, there was no shortage of wisdom and inspiration this month.Pierre Trudeau, the former PM of Canada (and yes, Justin’s father), once said, “diversity is a fact, inclusion is a choice.” I’m proud to work for a company that has made that choice, and to sponsor a group of women who hold us to it. Thanks for a great month. Thank you for sharing, and as always, for showing up for yourselves and for each other. In a challenging time, you gave us something to celebrate.Enjoyed this article? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below:
Diversity – The Key to Better Business
The role of diversity in technology businesses is a topic that has been very close to my heart. The reason is simple: when we cultivate a diverse and inclusive workforce, we are laying the foundation for greater innovation.To me, diversity is not only about gender, it is about acknowledging the differences that make each of us unique and harnessing them as strengths. I know what it is like to be “different.” I was born in India and raised in The Netherlands through a British, Dutch, and French education system. My career thus far has included positions in The Netherlands, Belgium, the USA, the UK, Hungary, and Singapore.This experience has shown me that teams are stronger and more creative when they incorporate different perspectives, experiences, and points of view. In fact, research has shown that gender diversity is correlated with both profitability and value creation.A Harvard Business Review study found that companies that are gender diverse and utilize female talent effectively are 45% more likely to report improved market share and 70% more likely to report they are capturing new markets.Here in ASEAN, I am fortunate to be working in a very diverse region. The bloc has 10 member countries, each having between one and four official languages (Collectively including English, Filipino, Indonesian, Khmer, Lao, Malay, Putonghua, Burmese, Spanish, Tamil, Thai and Vietnamese), and forty percent of the population is under the age of 30. I have witnessed first-hand the impact this can have on business. By channeling our collective diversity, we have experienced consistent year-over-year growth for the past nine quarters, and ended FY18 with 13% growth overall.ASEAN Country Leaders (L to R):Albert Chai, Country Leader, Malaysia ;Thuy Thi Le Luong, Country Leader, Vietnam; Naveen Menon, Vice President, ASEAN Theater Leader; Bee Kheng Tay, Country Leader, Singapore; Vatsun Thirapatarapong, Country Leader, Thailand, Indochina; Marina Kacaribu, Country Leader, Indonesia;Karrie Ilagan, Country Leader, PhilippinesWe are keen to maintain this outstanding performance, and as such, we are relentless in our focus on identifying and cultivating the extraordinary diverse talent, while continuing to drive inclusion and diversity.Earlier this fiscal year, we launched the ASEAN Workforce Reverse Mentoring Pilot Program, which has two primary objectives. The first is to generate greater inclusion by breaking down barriers. We paired 20 of our junior colleagues with senior leaders to give them an opportunity to “see the world” through the eyes of a Managing Director or Vice President at Cisco. At the same time, we wanted our senior executives to gain a better understanding of work that is done by Cisco staff at the grass-roots level. The expectation is that these connections will help bridge the gap between the different employee groups (whether they are diverse in age, experience, gender, abilities, ethnicity, etc.) while highlighting new perspectives and driving new ways of working. To me, that is all about creating empathy, which in turn helps drive an inclusive, more collaborative workplace.The second objective is to enable innovation. I have been blown away by what can happen when you give open-ended problem statements to the future leaders of Cisco. By giving them a voice and access to senior leaders, we can accelerate the implementation of these truly inspired and creative ideas, which may or may not have been realized without these connections. We will soon launch the next phase of the reverse mentoring process, which will aim to implement these new innovations with a “test and learn” approach, aligned to the APJC Breakthrough initiative, led by Miyuki Suzuki, SVP Asia Pacific and Japan.In ASEAN, a region where female employment is at 55% and higher than the world average (see figure on the right), our theater has made a commitment to bring diverse candidates into the team.It is not just about female employment rates. What is far more interesting to me is the impact bringing women – and other diverse candidates for that matter – into leadership can have on the business. I am thrilled that women hold four of the six country leader positions within our Excellence in Country Leadership program in ASEAN.Putting diverse talent into high-profile and high-impact roles is one of the most significant ways an organization can sustainably alter its diversity profile. The minute that happens, the narrative starts to shift because those great leaders start to put their own thoughts, views, and vision of the world into the organization. That is what I believe to be the real “needle mover.”I am proud of the work being done in ASEAN and throughout Cisco. When we make inclusion a priority and embrace and connect diverse perspectives throughout the organization, the possibilities for uncovering new talent and driving innovation are endless. I believe this is just the start of our journey. There is a lot more to do and many more glass ceilings to crack!This article was originally posted on here.I’d love to hear how you think diversity and inclusion is fostering innovation and new ways of thinking.
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