January 27, 2012

GLSEN interviews Cisco to discuss why No Name-Calling Week resonates with the tech giant

Today marks the last day of GLSEN's ninth annual No Name-Calling Week. We couldn't be more happier with the participation. As we mentioned in a previous post, thousands of schools took part including communities like Kewanee, IL; Fort Scott, KS; Asheville, NC and; Mandeville, LA.

But what about when a corporation teams up to participate in No Name-Calling Week?

Cisco Systems has been a leading sponsor of No Name-Calling Week for the past six years. Cisco Systems Vice President and GLSEN Board Member Rick Moran took some time out of his busy schedule to share this thoughts about why the company supports the program, his own experiences with bullying and what to do if a student is bullied.

Cisco Vice President Rick Moran

Thanks for sitting down with us for an interview. Can you share how Cisco first became involved in No Name-Calling Week?

Cisco got involved six years ago, which was before I joined the [GLSEN] board.  I was in NYC and met with Kevin (GLSEN's founder and former Executive Director).  We talked about GLSEN’s programs, and No Name-Calling Week really stood out as a program that I thought Cisco might support.  I reported back to our LGBT and Advocates employee resource group and suggested we rally around it.  Most people didn’t know anything about it, but once they heard about the lessons and resources, they got very excited.

So No Name-Calling Week really grabbed their attention? 

Cisco’s tagline is “Changing the way people live, work, play and learn” and this program touched “learn”.  The members of the LGBT employee resource group got very excited and wanted to help.  They engaged other Cisco employee resource groups to also participate.

Cisco employees at a school for No Name-Calling Week

That's amazing. It's also incredible that Cisco actually participates in the program. What does that usually look like?

Generally, we have 40 to 50 participants.  They wear Cisco t-shirts, introduce themselves, wear a badge and give a lesson.  They find it amazing and gratifying.  The challenge is the education environment is that we have to work a little harder to help the educators feel comfortable with having a non-teacher in their classroom.  But in all of the No Name-Calling Week experiences, we’ve had a great response from schools in Raleigh, suburban Dallas and Silicon Valley.

You mentioned about involving other Cisco employees in the week-long program. Can you share a little bit more about that?

We’ve brought in members of other employee resources groups: Hispanic, People of Color, Women.  We have a lot of employees who are new to the country, especially from the Middle East, as many  of our engineers come from India and Pakistan.  Their kids are bullied, and the culture of the company is to support and help them.

It's very rewarding to hear No Name-Calling Week would resonate with people coming from different backgrounds including immigrant families. It's also interesting to hear you describe Cisco like more of a community than simply a workplace.

Cisco has an interesting dynamic and presence in Silicon Valley.  We have 37,000 employees on campus, but when you add their children and other dependents, we have connections to more 100,000 people.  So what happens at Cisco can really be a force for change.

Cisco employee teaching a No Name-Calling Week lesson

As you know, bullying can manifest itself in different ways. The topic of cyberbullying is gaining a lot of traction and is something that we at GLSEN are paying more attention to. Is cyberbullying something Cisco cares about?

We are a hardware company.  We build networks. There’s a lot that we can do through our technologies, and we are actively looking at the implications of all this in the cyberworld, where the rules are different and the opportunity to do harm is great.

Of course, it's been great to count Cisco as a leading sponsor of No Name-Calling Week. But can you share why the educational event personally resonates with you?

My dad was an educator, which meant we were around teachers all the time, so I had a very different relationship with teachers.  I grew up in a mid-sized town with 5 high schools and 8 middle schools.  I believed that teachers were there to help me, and I went to them when I needed help.

You've watched No Name-Calling Week grow from a small event into one of the largest bullying prevention programs in the country. Why does Cisco continue to lend its support?

Over the years, people have wondered what Cisco is willing to stand behind.  I’m very proud that Cisco has been so willing to stand behind No Name-Calling Week for the past six years.  Seeing other corporations get involved is fantastic -- of course, I’d like for us to be the only sponsor of the program -- but I’m thrilled to see others step forward.  It’s a powerful statement about being willing to take on the challenge of bullying.

Cisco employee teaching at a school during No Name-Calling Week

Thanks to you and Cisco, we've definitely been able to grow the program into what it is today. We just have one final question before we let you go: what advice would you give to a student who is the victim of bullying?

I learned that the most important thing to do about bullying is to tell someone.  Talk to an adult.  It is simply the most important thing you can do.  Get out of the situation as quickly as you can.  It’s ok to run away and be ready to fight another day.  And if you see someone else getting bullied, and you can’t help, get someone who can. Don't ever turn a blind eye.

Thanks Rick for taking the time to chat with us. We also appreciate your support.

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