Image: Participants at Cisco's 7th annual Women of Impact Day.
Ahead of International Women's Day, Cisco hosted its 7th annual Women of Impact Day, bringing together Cisco employees, customers, partners and IT companies. The forum is a platform to exchange ideas and foster collaboration to encourage gender diversity and attract talent in the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM).
The theme for this year’s Women of Impact event was “Imagine Your Possible” – a statement encouraging women to be fearless, break boundaries and reach new heights in the workforce.
Initiated by the Cisco Connected Women chapter (CCW), the activities around “Imagine Your Possible” were aligned with the UAE vision on inclusion, innovation and integration in the workforce. Led by a panel with male and female thought leaders who discussed driving gender diversity in the workforce, the event also hosted a skills-based improv workshop for women.
One of the guest panelists, Louise Karim, managing director at Mums@Work, said: “Over the course of my career, I have experienced the challenges that come with juggling motherhood and work. The years have shown me how crucial it is for companies to prioritise digitisation and exercise flexibility. This approach helps create a trusted, balanced, inspired and productive culture for both men and women.”
Dana Dajani, award-winning Palestinian writer, performer and activist, was also present among the guests. Honoured as Emirates Woman "Artist of the Year" and recipient of the Young Arab Award for Entertainment in 2016, she told other women to chase their dreams, reciting her poetry and sharing milestones from her own story.
Commenting at the event, Dajani said: “We are here today to celebrate the outstanding women in the region who are leading, collaborating and inspiring more than ever before, but to also address the gender imbalance that still strongly exists across many industries. We want to inspire the next generation of women to believe in the power of their dreams, seek mentorship and break boundaries. We want women to realise the impact their presence can have on driving the future of work and to take action towards that direction.”
Women make up only 27% of workers in the computer science, engineering, and physics fields in some of the world’s emerging economies, representing an untapped pool of potential and talent. Cisco has launched programs and resources specifically tailored to equip men and women with the necessary skills that would help them work their way up the corporate ladder and hold executive leadership positions.
One such initiative geared towards achieving this is the Cisco Networking Academy (NetAcad), a global education programme launched in 1997 designed to build technical skills, while developing the communication, collaboration, and problem-solving abilities needed in today’s economy and to meet the growing demand for ICT talent around the world. Since the programme’s inception, the number of female students across the Middle East has been increasing, with women accounting for 48% of students in the UAE, 36% in Jordan, and 59% in Oman.
Shukri Eid, managing director for the East Region at Cisco Middle East, said: “Female inclusion and empowerment is a key factor that creates success and establishes the culture of equality within the company. By playing a proactive role in onboarding women and increasing their representation in the workforce, we are proud to move in line with the UAE national vision’s objective of enhancing gender equality and driving women’s participation. Cisco will continue its efforts to hire, nurture, promote and support women, especially in technical fields and leadership roles.”