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Cisco's European workforce is just over one-quarter female following an "incredibly successful" recruitment drive, the company has revealed.
Speaking at the company's Networkers conference last week, Cisco's president for Europe, Chris Dedicoat (pictured), explained that the company has put procedures in place to make it easier for managers to hire more female employees.
Dedicoat said Cisco has implemented a policy whereby a manager who successfully recruits a woman from outside the IT industry is given a budgetary refund on their recruitment costs as a reward for their efforts. The new starter is then placed on a special programme to equip them with the necessary IT skills and knowledge.
Dedicoat raised concerns that Europe is still not producing enough science graduates, which he said would stall the continent's productivity efforts if left unaddressed. The situation is being compounded by a shortage of women entering the industry, he said.
He was also keen to emphasise the productivity the internet can bring to society, and to challenge the perceptions that the internet stymies human interaction.
Dedicoat predicted that the second generation of the internet, revolving around social networking, would be "much more impactful" than the first generation. However, he added that businesses were hindered by a lack of productivity-enhancing Web 2.0 applications, possibly because of an absence of a proven return-on-investment, or because of scepticism.
Cisco Networkers, the networking company's twice yearly showcase, was held in Barcelona last week and boldly branded "Ignite Innovation".
The slogan was a nod of recognition towards the company's 22,000 engineers and the 4,200 technology patents they have created over Cisco's 24-year history, and to the need for companies to invest in technology to become more productive.
Cisco was keen to demonstrate its technical leadership, and brought to the show a subject-matter expert for each of its key technologies.
In the exhibition, Cisco showed off its latest acceleration technology, WAAS Mobile, and its new Power-over-Ethernet-enabled switches, as well as its extensive data-centre range.
As is usually the case at vendor conferences, delegates were given the opportunity to buy branded clothing: polo shirts, body warmers and baseball caps — and even a Cisco logo-sporting teddy bear.