Network Spotlight: Cisco ‘Back to Business’

Cisco 'Back to Business' network

Tell us a bit about your network

Back to Business was founded by Reija Tindillere in March 2018 after she had a challenging return to work post- maternity leave. The challenges of the return were not publicly discussed in teams and no support networks were available for employees. In order to make the return to work easier for co-workers in similar situations, Reija launched Cisco’s ‘Back to Business (B2B)’ effort for all employees to provide a peer-to-peer support platform for those returning to work from extended leave (parental, medical, sabbatical).  Returning from extended leave can be difficult- employees often end up juggling work with their ‘new normal’, and B2B aims to assist them in finding a balance no matter the type of leave- whether it be medical, parental, care-giver, bereavement, etc.

Back to Business is led at worldwide level by Reija Tindillere and co-led by Jenny Kenyon, and sponsored by 2 VP’s. We currently have 9 country chapters launched with +400 members worldwide (growing rapidly). The core team together with the country chapter leads come together bi-weekly to share best practises and drive the network initiatives together in a virtual team.

What is your network’s prime objective?

  1. In order to avoid isolation, create a supportive and safe environment to share experiences
  2. Raise awareness on challenges that employees face when returning to work
  3. In partnership with HR: helping make Cisco an industry leader for employee support in order to attract and retain talent 

How is your network helping women to progress in the workplace?

We all live in a very high pace environment. Returning to work can be quite daunting, especially after long-term leave which disproportionally effects women returning from maternity leave. Many return with the realisation that the world has moved during their absence. Back to Business provides a safe environment for women to be mentored by their peers to share some of the concerns returning to work creates and seek support! Sometimes it makes all the difference to talk to someone who has gone through what you have gone through and truly understands how you feel. We also offer short cuts to access supporting materials and processes that all employees might not be aware off.

Tell us about your events?

When an employee returns to work it makes a big difference to be warmly welcomed by their manager, team and supporting community. Back to Business organizes Back to Business Breakfasts and ice cream socials to create a platform for employees to meet with other employees in a similar situation and seek support. We also host events with speakers that cover topics related to returning to work to raise awareness around the challenges of returning to work.

What should we expect if we join?

A warm and supportive network of likeminded people who share similar experiences and support each other!

How do our members join your network, is there a fee?

We use Cisco technology of Webex teams communities where employees can come together in a virtual environment to learn from others experiences and be connected to employees in similar situations, and there is absolutely no fee associated.

What advice would you give to anyone who is joining a network for the first time?

You are in a safe environment, you are free to be yourself and share what is top of your mind.

Any top tips for new networkers? Why is building your network important?

The more we start talking openly about the challenges of combining a family with a successful career the more we can raise awareness around the challenges we face as women and how its OK in some areas just to be “good enough”. We need to support each other to make this positive shift in the mindset of hiring managers about hiring a pregnant employee, a mother of small children. By helping others we are spreading good around.

Finally, what’s next for your network?

We continue to expand internally inside Cisco (Next up is Canada and Mexico) and create new resources that will facilitate the return of Cisco Employees and prepare managers to help their employees to have a smooth return to work.

We have also received requests from our customers and partners to share with them the framework we have built as all the companies are struggling with the same issues.

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