Reflections During Pride Month: How Cisco Employees Are Creating a More Inclusive Future
During June, you see rainbow flags flying and celebrations in honor of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer (LGBTQ) Pride Month. It is held every year in June to recognize the LGBTQ+ civil rights movement and in memory of the pivotal Stonewall Uprising on June 28, 1969. This event transformed the LGBTQ+ movement and the fight for equal rights. But there is still a lot to do in creating a more inclusive world for the LGBTQ+ community.
Cisco is committed to building an inclusive future for all, including supporting our LGBTQ+ employees. But working towards inclusivity doesn’t stop at the end of June; it is something that we prioritize all year. Learn more about what employees who lead our LGBTQ+ employee resource organizations (EROs) from across Cisco have to say about Pride Month and what it means to them.
Nicole Albertson (she/her)
Global Lead, QFAM (Queers & Friends at Meraki)
Head of Communications at Cisco Meraki
“Each Pride we take the time to celebrate and honor the queer community – to show our support and remember those who fought for LGBTQ+ rights.
As we make our way through 2022, the word ‘equality’ continues to drive our actions. With more restrictive laws coming into effect across the U.S., our youths are once again being told to hide their differences and that some hold less personal rights than others. We feel this strain not just in the queer community, but throughout all our inclusive communities.
At Cisco, we know the opposite is true. We know that our individuality makes us shine. We know that equality is a right that shouldn’t need to be earned. With the support of our leadership and their pledge of support, we are taking the steps towards an inclusive environment that nourishes our growth and stands for equal rights.
For Pride month, Cisco Meraki’s employee resource group Queers and Friends at Meraki (QFAM) is invigorated to celebrate our differences – or as we call them, our superpowers. We are coming together to explore how we can continue to show up for ourselves and others by accepting and encouraging the superpowers in us all. The powers of glam, love, authenticity, and resiliency – powers we all embody in our unique ways – create the profound superpower of equality for us all.
Our differences don’t make us different; they make us equally super.”
Andy Burnside (he/him)
Co-Lead, Cisco Secure Pride
Software Consulting Engineer
“One of the most challenging and wonderful aspects of queer life for me has been always knowing I was different from others around me. My own experience has inspired me to fight for the marginalized, to work to serve the needs of others, and to aspire to change the world.
At Cisco, I’m empowered every day to build a world that reaches more people and to help make meaningful change by simply being my authentic self. When you are able to find an organization which shares the same values as your individual values, when going to work becomes showing up for your own life’s mission, the truly amazing becomes possible. And by creating environmentally sustainable products that secure and connect human beings throughout the world, our mission is quite literally a mission to make the world a better place.
One way I get to do that is by helping to lead our Cisco Secure LGBTQ+ ERO. Allowing myself intentional time to focus on serving others within Cisco who have similar experiences has been a tremendously rewarding experience and has allowed us to identify important issues, create safe spaces for community, and provide valuable resources for each other. I’m proud to be a part of Cisco.”
Alejandra Hernandez-Montaño (she/her)
PRIDE AMER Regional co-lead
CX Centers Customer Delivery Leader
“After everything that we have experienced these past two years, PRIDE month has a different meaning to me. I would like to focus on the positive, since I have witnessed how empathy and understanding can make the difference for society. PRIDE to me stands for Purpose, Resilience, Identity, Determination, and Excitement.
Purpose because community members and allies are constantly working together to build safer spaces for the LGBTQ+ community driven by the recognition of human rights.
Resilience is to keep raising our voice for justice and equality regardless of the increase of hate and violence around the world. We continue to show our strength.
Identity since we all belong to ourselves. Being able to recognize and respect each other for who we are makes our world a better place to live in.
Determination when we keep seeing that after several years the cause to recognize the LGBTQ+ rights remain alive and getting stronger.
Excitement because we are contributing to build a society where differences are understood and welcomed.
Yes, there is still a lot of work to do and not everything is positive. However, “Rome was not built in one day…” and small changes will lead to big progress. I invite you to learn, to be an active ally or community member because your contributions help a lot and can change someone’s life.”
How to be a better ally
Members of the LGBTQ+ community, whether they be friends, family, or colleagues, could use your support. Here are three ways to start:
- Educate yourself through books, podcasts, or documentaries about the issues that the LGBTQ+ community is facing. This is especially important when it comes to trans rights and the experiences of BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and people of color) who are part of the LGBTQ+ community.
- Consider donating to or volunteering with an organization that supports the LGBTQ+ community and the advancement of equity and inclusion.
- Don’t just show your support during Pride Month. Make an effort all year to listen to and help uplift the voices of the LGBTQ+ community.
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