This month Cisco released their annual Corporate Responsibility report and they have made impressive progress. For 35 years in the networking space, Cisco has driven innovation and reimagined how the world should connect. They are one of two companies in the US leading the 5G and WiFi 6 technology wave and they are on track to get to critical mass with both technologies by the end of next year. But Chuck Robbins, Cisco’s CEO, believes strongly you can do well by doing good and he has been a huge advocate of using Cisco’s resources to make the world a better place and, this year, they have made a ton of progress.
This effort has also been driven by Cisco’s impressive CSR leader, Tae Yoo, whose vision and execution has made the company a true power in setting an example for others while helping Chuck improve the world around the company.
Let’s explore some of the more interesting metrics Cisco showcases in their report.
One of the biggest problems in the technology industry is the lack of skilled workers—particularly women and minorities. This has created a significant imbalance in the technology workforce and contributed to the disparity in income between men and women. Cisco saw this problem early on and put significant resources into the Cisco academy, which aggressively recruits people that need jobs into their program—turning many from unemployable to highly-valued. This has had a significant impact across 180 countries and 2.15 million students per year or 150K over their stated annual target.
Assuring well educated technicians are available to fill critical slots in both Cisco and its partners not only reduces poverty, but it does so while creating additional tax revenues from income as opposed to making these people dependents. Working people are less likely to act out, tend to live better lives, and are a contributing part of society rather than a burden to it.
Cisco invests heavily in cash grant programs for small companies that want to make a difference. According to Cisco, they have helped 469 million people with this program—allowing critical ideas to develop in market. Past recipients of these funds have improved water production and neonatal care in developing nations struggling with a lack of food, water, and medicine. Bill Gates once said something to the effect that you can’t open a market if the people are starving and sick. Cisco’s efforts have helped create new opportunities and products that help emerging economies reach critical mass and become more self-sufficient.
Often employees must decide whether they want a job with a profitable company or contribute to a better world. At Cisco there is no “or”. Over half of the employees at Cisco have donated or volunteered for critical philanthropic activities in 2019, showcasing a broad acceptance for Robbin’s and Yoo’s corporate efforts. This allows the employees to individually do good, providing a level of satisfaction with their relationship to Cisco and a level of loyalty as well that is likely unmatched. The Cisco employees are proud of their company for taking an active role in making the world a better place and seem to be eagerly willing to supplement that role with their own work.
Cisco has also worked to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions and continues to aggressively move from fossil fuels to renewable resources like solar energy. Conservation, done right, must be vigilantly supported by management and that is the case at Cisco with its shift away from the consumption of fossil fuels.
If we are gong to slow or reverse the damage to our planet before that damage ends us as a race, it is critical that companies like Cisco take an active role in making the world a better place. Cisco stepped up sharply this year with the backing of Chuck Robbins and a massive amount of effort from Tae Yoo—and the result is a strong example of a firm that is doing well while doing good.
Cisco continues to set a very strong example of how companies should behave and, I expect, the future will highlight their success in this area. Our future may depend on efforts like this—making Cisco’s strong positive example in this area critical to our long-term survival.