Sandberg Inspires Male CEO

Alden Wicker
Posted

CEO John ChambersThere’s a lot of women debating Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg’s message in her new book, “Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead.”

It’s been called incredibly relatable, a win, inspiring but problematic, inspirational, selfish and elitist, and the latest salvo in the war on moms. Controversy much?

But the latest person to jump in is … a male CEO. And he is nothing if not inspired and a little chastened.

In an internal email posted on All Things D, Cisco CEO John Chambers says, “While I have always considered myself sensitive to and effective on gender issues in the workplace, my eyes were opened in new ways and I feel a renewed sense of urgency to make the progress we haven’t made in the last decade.”

Now he’s instructing his top managers to read “Lean In” and come up with three to four new women-focused initiatives. It probably helped that he had his own little tete-a-tete with Sandberg as well. (We hear she’s a charming lady.)

Cisco is and isn’t an egregious anti-woman offender compared to the broad industry. While it has three female board members and its chief technology officer is a woman, as Chambers pointed out in his memo to company leaders, less than 25% of its top executives and employees are women, and 20% of its million networking academy students are women.

It will be interesting to see if, now that Chambers realized he hasn’t “consistently walked the talk,” what kind of meaningful progress Cisco can make toward raising the profile of women in the company.

Photo credit: Flickr/Orcacle_Photos_Screenshots

  • Donnas dime

    This makes me think well of him. Too often men are defensive and want to rely in their progress…as if “they have done a lot to help the girls”. Instead they should be thinking about whether or not they have helped make a world their daughters could enter with a fair chance to succeed.