By Karla Amador
Jason Whitcomb is still early in his career, but he considers himself extremely lucky to have found a job that he is so passionate about. He is a program manager in Cisco’s Global Office of Inclusion and Collaboration (OIC). The organization is focused on delivering innovative solutions to some of the industry’s most business-critical challenges and opportunities—like expanding the company’s commitment to fair pay, accelerating diverse talent, and taking a stand for social justice. The broad improvements the OIC has made in overall representation have resulted in the most diverse Cisco since 2000.
As a program manager, Whitcomb works closely with global strategic partners to help the company deliver on its inclusion and diversity initiatives. Each of these world-class partners is focused on social advocacy, individual and team recruitment, professional development, and the retention of top diverse talent.
“Being a man of color, I have a deep commitment and opportunity to support underrepresented communities, and I am inspired daily by how Cisco employees benefit from the work we are doing,” he said. “It’s an honor to contribute to the success stories employees experience across the company.”
Whitcomb himself is one of these success stories. In fact, last year, he was awarded Color Magazine’s first-ever Millennial of the Year Award at the December All-Inclusive Awards Gala in Boston. Whitcomb was nominated for his contributions to the company’s strategic partnership program, and for advancing inclusion and diversity throughout Cisco.
One such strategic partnership is the Executive Leadership Council (ELC). Each year, Cisco partners with the ELC to develop the next generation of African-American leaders. In 2017, Whitcomb helped organize and send 120 high-performing Cisco employees and 30 Cisco executives to Washington D.C. for ELC’s two-day leadership conference.
“The Executive Leadership Council is just one of several strategic partners Cisco works closely with to advance the development of a fully diverse and inclusive organization,” he said.
Last year alone, Cisco sent more than 2,400 high-potential employees to strategic partner conferences, events, and development programs as a way to recognize rising stars. The company is invested in every employee’s professional and career development.
Another aspect of Whitcomb’s job focuses on company surveys. In his role, Whitcomb helps the Office of Inclusion and Collaboration gauge the impact and value of its diversity and inclusion programs to identify future development areas.
“I strongly believe in Cisco’s commitment to innovate everywhere and benefit everyone,” he said. “That’s what we do in the OIC. We create solutions to challenging problems that benefit our customers, our employees, our partners, and our communities through full-spectrum diversity.”
When asked what he thinks it takes to be an effective leader, Whitcomb said, “To listen and to use our voice effectively.” He observed: “To understand, one must listen. But to create change, one must view their voice as a gift, and that gift comes with a responsibility to use it effectively.”