It’s Pride Month globally, a celebration and recognition of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex, Asexual, Two Spirit (LGBTQIA2S+) community with various events held around the world. June is marked to recognise the Stonewall Riots taking place in 1969 and is an opportunity to shine a light on the issues facing the community as well as celebrating it.

At Cisco, we’re all about full spectrum diversity as we work towards an inclusive future for all. Being able to bring your whole self to work is a key part of that. Within our organisation, the Cisco PRIDE group is driven by employees to ensure Cisco is recognised as an inclusive LGBTQIA2S+ friendly company. As well as providing global networking and individual development opportunities, the team helps to drive Inclusion and Collaboration through Cisco, our local communities, and the world.

We are still in a global pandemic, and it is important for the pride community to have access to support groups and safe spaces to bring their whole selves to work. During Pride Month it is important for us to remember that the LGBTQ+ movement is really a movement of individuals in a lot of ways, and an important time to commemorate members of the community. It is the time to celebrate positive impact and individuals’ contributions made in history. It is a time for us all to reflect on the progress.

We asked our proud peers what’s top of mind for them this pride month – here’s what they shared with us.


Safe spaces to bring people together is key, including where we have lived our lives the past year: online

A safe space is one in which the LGBTQIA2S+ community can freely express themselves without fear, spaces that do not tolerate violence, bullying or hate speech towards the community. This includes both physical and digital spaces.

While physical pride cues can help to show safe spaces easily, with visibility a key pillar of allyship such as rainbow flags around the office, this safety is not as always easily visible online.

Working from home for most of us has shared the inner workings of our family lives, which may include elements around our identity that we’re hesitant or uncomfortable sharing.

To support peers during this time, the Pride community has set up safe digital spaces using Webex to enable people a chance to connect, safely. This is available to all members of the community, including those transitioning.


Proximity to leadership is key

As many say: if you can see it, you can be it! In a recent global Pride call, a panel with senior Cisco executives and external speakers shared the importance of proximity to leadership. Connecting with peers who have shared life experiences offers not only a sense of community but shared common ground and learnings from how they’ve navigated their professional pathway. Seeing people from your community achieve professional success helps to inspire others.

The common theme was the importance of being authentic and vulnerable, especially in leadership positions which are built on trust and openness. ­­­This authenticity is a key part of how we work here, which is underpinned by a conscious culture – where everyone thrives and where we intentionally seek out, learn, understand and appreciate the people who surround us.

Considering this, Cisco has a dedicated PROUD Professional Development Program to offer a mentorship experience for all LGBTQ+ identifying employees and allies.


How to be a good ally: be respectful, listen and learn

There are many ways to show your support for the LGBTQ+ community by being an active ally. Be respectful and listen to others, starting with how they are and be willing to listen to their experience.

Consider the power in language and use gender neutral language when referring to individuals or groups you don’t know. Support the community and call out comments that are counterproductive or not inclusive. Show your support for the community at work by proudly showing pride colours to create an inclusive space for everyone. There’s a shared humanity in all of us, and supporting others goes a long way in building inclusivity.

Next week, our employees will be coming together to show their pride through empowering activities in line with pride month, and a chance to come together with a shared vision for equality.

As the Pride Global Executive Sponsor Todd Nightingale, Senior Vice President, General Manager, Enterprise Networking & Cloud said earlier this week – don’t ask people why they’re part of this community. “Ask them why they aren’t.”