Tech Overlook

A Great Place to Be Yourself


2019-October-10

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BY JOSH HERNANDEZ · CSAP MANAGER · UNITED STATES

Josh with two kids at Learning Together, a non-profit where he sits on the Board of DirectorsJosh with two kids at Learning Together, a
non-profit where he sits on the Board of Directors.

Growing up in the closet, as a son of Filipino and Catholic immigrants, I didn’t fit into the role assigned
to me.
If I’m honest, I didn’t fit in a lot of places.
I grew up believing something was wrong with me. I carried the weight of shame, anger, and sadness for many
years.
I used to believe that coming out didn’t matter.
Whose business was it who I dated? Why should I offer this personal information about myself to someone who
didn’t really need to know?
But when I did come out, I soon realized that coming out is not a one-time event. You don’t just come out to
one person and all of a sudden, magically, everyone knows.
I have to come out all over again, every day, whenever I meet someone new. Whether that be a new direct
report, team, or colleague.
Every coming out moment opens you up to be accepted or rejected. I received mixed receptions at other
companies I had worked for, so I was very selective about who I told I was gay.

Magically Different

Even from my very first interaction with Cisco, I knew there was something magically different here. There
was a gay person on my interview panel, which I had never personally experienced before Cisco.
It was mind-blowing when she talked openly about her wife during the interview process in front of the other
panelists. Something as simple as an employee openly sharing her personal life was life-changing to me.

Josh and his CSAP Class with Chuck Robbins.
Jacob and Dakota, Josh’s rescue dogs celebrating Pride Month.
Josh doing what he does best. Eating!

Her fellow panelists all chimed in on how great her wife was too. I thought to myself, “They even know her
wife!” During that interview, I knew I wanted to be part of the Cisco family.

I’ve now been with Cisco for six years. From that first interaction with the diverse interview panel to
seeing the Pride flag flying outside the RTP office alongside the U.S. and North Carolina flags during Pride
month, I knew I joined a company where I could be myself.

Every time I come out, I am met with nothing but genuine respect, acceptance, and love.

Simply the best. Authentically me.

I’ve been so honored to have had multiple leadership roles, received several awards, and afforded valuable
training opportunities.

Being a gay Filipino man has nothing to do with why I have received all of these incredible things. It has to
do with me being my true authentic self, Josh Hernandez, and that is simply it.

My direct reports, colleagues, and leaders celebrate that. It’s why Cisco is the #1 World’s Best Workplace — not for some, but for everyone.

That includes my amazing husband, Patrick Pless, who’s also an employee. Cisco offers us terrific benefits as
a same-sex couple, allows us the opportunity to give back to charities that are close to our hearts, and
provides an environment where we thrive.

Because Cisco accepts me for who I am, I can honestly give my best. I don’t worry about what others think,
which is a sign of a healthy community.

Josh and Patrick in Machu Picchu completing an item of their bucket list.Josh and Patrick in Machu Picchu completing an
item of their bucket list.

Coming out of the closet doesn’t just involve the person coming out. It means the other parties listen.

Thank you, Cisco, for filling my life with humility, love, and acceptance.

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