Some companies think of corporate responsibility as more of a PR stunt or scam. They may plant a few trees, throw up a few slides, and talk the talk, but they don’t believe. Cisco stands out as a firm that takes corporate responsibility seriously and puts its money and people where their mouth is. They were ranked first in terms of best places to work in both 2019 and 2020, suggesting Cisco employees appreciate the firms’ aggressive focus not only on social responsibility but also on doing what is right for their employees. This award contrasts with other tech companies facing upset employees trying to unionize and firms being caught illegally blocking those efforts.
With Cisco, corporate responsibility is part of their DNA. Let’s talk about some of their progress, making the world a better place to live this week.
Great Place to Work
When I initially went to work in tech, I chose the firm that, at the time, was ranked #1 in terms of being a great place to work. Looking back, I had the best managers there (ROLM/IBM) of any firm where I subsequently worked. I didn’t believe then, nor do I believe now, that you have to hate working. If you enjoy what you do, you are far happier longer than if you do something you hate or work for a company that abuses you—where you are just looking forward to retirement. You know, this COVID-19 event is showcasing many of us won’t make it to retirement. I recall my old neighbor who worked his butt off building for a retirement both he and his wife were living for only to die as a result of one too many plane trips.
97% of Cisco employees at the firm rank it highly as a great place to work; this compares to a 59% average at a more typical US firm. And these employees have a tremendous amount of corporate pride, growing from 95% who were proud of Cisco in 2019 to 98% this year. And I also believe that if you choose vendors based on how they treat their employee’s other firms see this behavior and modify their own, making that selection self-serving because it eventually should improve where you work.
An incredible amount of credit for this goes to Chuck Robbins, Cisco’s CEO, and Francine Katsoudas, their EVP, and the Chief People Officer.
Positive Impact of Cisco
Part of what makes Cisco different is its focus on positively impacting the world, an effort supported by all of Cisco’s executives and driven by their SVP of Corporate Affairs Tae Yoo. The scale of employee support for these efforts is nothing short of astounding, with 81% of Cisco employees actively contributing–including donations, community impact actions, and nearly 500 thousand volunteer hours (up 9% this year) in 2020.
Cisco has made significant financial contributions this year with $5 million pledged to organizations fighting for social justice like the Equal Justice Initiative, the NAACP legal defense fund, and the Color of Change. The firm also contributed $458 million in cash and in-kind contributions to community impact programs, $53 million in cash and PPE (personal protective equipment) to support the most vulnerable people impacted during the COVID-19 pandemic, and 2.7 million students who participated in Cisco career certification or IT Essentials courses report that Networking Academy helped them obtain a new job.
Cisco has a goal to impact 1 billion people by 2025 eventually and is well along on that path, with 527 million impacted since 2016.
Cisco has reduced its environmental impact in FY2020 and a 55% reduction in Scope 1 and 2 GHG emissions, and they are shooting for a 60% reduction by the end of FY2022. They continue to focus on energy use, and again this year, 83% of their energy came from renewable resources, and they plan to reach 85% by the end of FY2022.
Finally, Cisco ranks #1 in the Gartner Supply Chain Top 25 for 2020, mainly due to its circular economy focus. They plan to have 100% of their products meet circular design principles by 2025.
Wrapping Up: Focusing on What’s Important
Cisco stands at the head of the pack when doing what is right for its people, its customers, its investors, and especially the planet. This result is again showcased in their corporate responsibility report. They set a powerful example of how tech companies should behave and how every company should behave if we want to protect the world we live in and those we love. If every firm took a similar dedicated approach to protect their stakeholders and the world, we’d all be safer, live longer, and be far happier.
People are defined by the good and evil they do; Cisco stands out as a firm defined by making our world a better place.