I just started reading Reni Eddo-Lodge’s book, “Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People about Race,” which had previously sparked national conversation in Britain on understanding race relations. It’s made me stop and think: How well do I challenge aspects of myself, others and systems that create exclusion? It opened my eyes to the importance of listening and understanding in order to truly engage in the global conversation around diversity, inclusion and belonging. 

At Ciena, our People Promise highlights our commitment for people to feel included. And this year, we are focusing on having more conversations and providing new education on how we can foster an inclusive environment. Our Belonging mission is a commitment to conversations about how we will commit to more inclusion, provide greater equity, further equality, and create additional diversity. We will make it happen together by sharing our ideas, views and who we are with each other. Watch this mobile text message conversation here to see our mission.

Through conversations, we can educate ourselves to be better allies, which is the focus of our new Conscious Inclusion virtual workshops. We introduced these sessions to allow our Ciena team to reflect on what identities are, how people get them wrong, and the impact that can have in the workplace. This month, I attended one of the workshops led by our external partner, YSC, a thought leader in this space. Their core beliefs match our own - it’s about creating an inclusive environment, it’s inextricably linked to business strategy and goals, and it’s our leaders’ responsibility to set the tone for effective change.

During the workshops, we discussed a shared language and framework for inclusion and improved our understanding of our role and actions to foster it. My peers and I left these workshops with a promise to make an individual personal inclusion commitment to the company - and to share that commitment with our respective supervisors, in my case, our CEO Gary Smith. Over and above my own personal behaviours to be more inclusive, my commitment is to work with my team to remove bias from our people processes and systems so that they are more equitable. This can be a very powerful reinforcing mechanism, and I can’t wait to see what additional changes will occur as the conversations get underway across our company.

Over and above my own personal behaviours to be more inclusive, my commitment is to work with my team to remove bias from our people processes and systems so that they are more equitable.

The session also helped me build an inclusive mindset with curiosity, courage and connection. I’ve been digging deeper and even exploring my British heritage to be more educated about British black history. I’m looking forward to the conversations that will continue as more share who they are, and everyone takes time to listen and educate themselves. 

Are you interested in finding where you belong at Ciena? See our available positions today.