Cisco CEO John Chambers, after talking with Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg about her book “Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead,” sent out a memo to his staff saying the company had to “lean in” on issues of women in the workplace, reports All Things Digital.
He’s quoted in his memo as saying:
“After reading Lean In and listening to Sheryl, I realize that, while I believe I am relatively enlightened, I have not consistently walked the talk … What we have been doing hasn’t worked, and it is time to adjust.”
He called upon his top managers to come up with women-focused initiatives to put into their development plans.
“I have two specific asks for each of you: 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 and detail those commitments in your development plan …
“I think Sheryl says it best: “We can no longer pretend that biases don’t exist, nor can we talk around them … the result of creating a more equal environment will not just be better performance for our organizations, but quite likely greater happiness for all.”
There’s a lot of talk about the dearth of women in top ranks at tech companies – or even among the tech ranks at all. Plenty of efforts attempt to interest girls in careers in science and technology and some of them are successful. But even when young women attain degrees in those fields, too often workplace issues cause them to flee.
Research from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee found that women engineers were more likely to leave the field because they were uncomfortable with the work culture than for family reasons.
So Chambers’ efforts to understand and counter the influences preventing more women from advancing are a move in the right direction.