What Do Diversity and Inclusion Mean at Cisco Systems?

Can someone help me understand what diversity means at Cisco Systems?

1. Frank Turek, a management and team-building trainer, was dismissed by Cisco for reasons completely unrelated to his job performance.

2. The reason for his dismissal was his religious and political views, none of which was ever brought up on the job.

3. Cisco loudly trumpets its value of inclusion and diversity.

4. The company has reportedly failed to respond to private and open letters asking how this firing reflects a mindset of diversity and inclusion.

5. Cisco’s Senior Director of Inclusion and Diversity reportedly “refused to do anything to address the cultural factors that contributed to the firing, she refused to even consider the possibility that the Cisco culture was decidedly tilted toward intolerant political correctness—the soil from which the firing sprouted.”

6. This same executive, Mary Nagel, is reported to have said, “Our culture is very welcoming of all points of view. We don’t have any particular political perspective on the issues of same-sex marriage or any of the other issues.” Yet Frank Turek was fired because of his views on this issue. She is also reported to have said,

Because we believe that it has to be an employee environment where everyone is welcome, we do discourage discussions around strongly held political beliefs or religious beliefs in group settings within Cisco other than certain forums, and so we’re very sensitive about protecting our culture of acceptance of everyone, we don’t want anyone to ever feel excluded and that means all opinions, and I really believe that’s what inclusion is all about….

There is a reason that we don’t have political discussions on our campus, and that is because we find that they can be divisive and so we choose to allow people to have those conversations informally or off campus.

7. Frank Turek had never initiated any of these “discouraged” discussions.

8. Turek not only felt excluded on the basis of his opinions, he was literally shown the door.

9. Cisco’s policy of discouraging such discussions was not applied to this LGBT discussion.

10. Cisco not only opened its doors for this discussion; a senior executive, the company’s vice-president of segment marketing, led part of it.

11. There is no sign there was anyone there to represent diversity in the form of differing points of view.

12. My search of the company’s website for any comparably open door to Christian gatherings turned up nothing.

13. My search of the company’s website for any comparable Christians’ advocates network also turned up nothing.

14. Another vice-president (small business marketing) is listed on Cisco’s website under “Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender and Advocates Network.” He serves on the board of GLSEN (Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network).

15. Cisco’s Inclusion and Diversity Executive Board lists no place for any religious group or interest.

16. Ms. Nagel reportedly told Frank Turek and Mike Adams, “We appreciate that people bring differences as long as they don’t make others feel unwelcome or act in a manner that’s disrespectful toward others, so I appreciate your feeling about this and your concern and I can only suggest that you take a look at some of the stuff that we put on our website.”

17. Cisco’s website displays one of its invited speakers, a gay politician, urging a “no” vote on Proposition 8.

18. Numbers 6,16, and 17 are difficult to square with each other.

19. One journalist’s conclusion:

So Cisco, which claims to take no position on same-sex marriage, invites in and pays gay politicians and gay activists to speak in favor of same-sex marriage. You do this in a “forum” held on the Cisco campus and led by a Cisco Vice President – a “collaboration forum”, which does not collaborate with a speaker from the other side of a politically divisive issue. And yet those who have spoken against same-sex marriage, off campus and not in any way representing Cisco, are fired.

20. My phone call to Ms. Nagel’s office was not answered, and my message requesting a callback was not returned.

I have spoken with Frank Turek about this. I will have more to share about his perspective—which I guarantee will not be what you expect—in an upcoming blog post.

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