Cisco CEO John Chambers says he’s had his eyes opened to women’s issues by reading Sheryl Sandberg’s new book.He was so inspired, he bought a copy of “Lean In” for all his senior managers and is making them read it. Then they must find ways to promote more women into leadership roles, reports AllThingsD Kara Swisher.
In an all-hands email to Cisco employees, Chambers wrote:
“After reading Lean In and listening to Sheryl, I realise that, while I believe I am relatively enlightened, I have not consistently walked the talk. I think each of you, on reflection, will identify opportunities to operate at a new level with your women employees, leaders, customers, partners, and peers … 1) please read the copy of Lean In you will be receiving shortly, before we get to the SVP/VP off-site and 2) determine 3-4 specific things you will do differently.”
The interesting thing is that Cisco is already a relative leader with women in leadership roles in the tech industry. Network engineering is a field dominated by men, much like the gaming industry. Yet Cisco has several highly visible women leaders including its chief strategy officer/CTO Padmasree Warrior and its CIO Rebecca Jacoby. Three out of Cisco’s 14 board members are women, too.
But he’s right that Cisco could still improve here: Less than 25% of its employees are women and about 20% of the company’s one-million students in its “network academy” are women, he says. So there’s fewer women in the pipeline entering the network engineering field.
Getting Cisco’s workforce and leadership closer to a 50/50 ratio, as Sandberg advocates, would be hard. But if Cisco can pull that off, so can every other company.