The News: Cisco builds and sells a wide range of critical equipment that powers networking, IoT, collaboration, security, the internet, and more, but the company is also dedicated to making life better for people, and for the planet as a whole, through its deeply embedded corporate responsibility efforts. For Cisco, this has been an important and public strategy and mission for decades through its diverse and directed programs and actions around the globe. In December, Cisco unveiled that it repackaged and renamed how it reports the results of those programs by transforming its former Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) reports into a new 96-page 2021 Cisco Purpose report, which will include other previous and separate updates on company-wide corporate responsibility, environmental, social and governance (ESG) initiatives and more. Read the full Cisco blog post on the revamped Cisco Purpose reports here in the Cisco website.
As Cisco’s Global Corporate Social Responsibility Efforts Continually Grow and Morph, it’s Improving the Ways It Reports Those Efforts to the World
Analyst Take: For decades, Cisco has been doing important work behind the scenes every day to help the planet, its people, and humanity at large. To communicate those accomplishments and goals, Cisco created annual Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) reports that detail that work. The CSR reports worked well for a long time, but now the company is wisely revamping and expanding them with a new delivery method – it’s broader and more focused Cisco Purpose reports – to share the details and effects of its generous philanthropy.
In its Cisco Purpose reports, the company is continuing its efforts to communicate its community-based programs and their real-world results, while also encouraging other companies to conduct similar assistance and initiatives around the world. What we like in particular about how Cisco tackles communicating its goals and accomplishments is that the company manages to be positive and inspiring its messaging rather than self-promotional in any way.
In her blog post about the latest 2021 Cisco Purpose Report, Tae Yoo, Cisco’s senior vice president of corporate affairs, details how the company works to live its mission every day of “powering an inclusive future for all” through its efforts to positively impact people and the planet.
The new report format is ultra-detailed, laying out Cisco’s past, present, and future in working to make a difference here on Earth.
In his introduction message within the Cisco Purpose report, Chuck Robbins, Cisco’s board chair and CEO, described how the company signed the UN Global Compact 20 years ago, which kicked off its mission to care about the world and not just about its own business. The UN Global Compact encouraged businesses to focus on sustainability and social responsibility, while reporting on their progress, he wrote. “In doing so, we aligned our operations and strategies to the UN’s Ten Principles on human rights, labor, environment, and anti-corruption, and began taking strategic actions to advance societal goals,” he continued. “I am proud that we took this action, and at Cisco, we value these principles and do all that we can to ensure that we consistently build upon the strong foundation we’ve created.”
Cisco’s 2021 Global CSR and ESG Efforts
For Cisco, the work it is doing around the world is grounded in creating impacts on people and their communities, wrote Yoo. Adding to its efforts, Cisco also reports on the outcomes of its efforts so it can see and show how they are making those impacts and not just spending money and time to no avail.
“Outcomes are an indicator of actual impact or change,” wrote Yoo. “For example, donating or distributing mosquito nets doesn’t necessarily mean there will be a reduction of instances of malaria (outcome); the malaria nets may never be used.”
By setting clear goals, measuring progress and transparently reporting those impacts since its first Corporate Citizenship Report in 2005, Cisco can describe the real differences it is making each year and how the company learns from those real-world outcomes, wrote Yoo. “This allows us to prove and improve — to identify areas of strength or weakness, opportunity or risk. Doing so is integral to our purpose work and a key part of being a responsible corporate citizen.”
In 2016, Cisco announced a goal to positively impact one billion people by 2025 through social impact grants to nonprofits and through efforts such as Cisco Networking Academy.
In 2006, Cisco began focusing on addressing climate change, which is now an overarching corporate strategy to help create a regenerative and sustainable world, wrote Yoo. “This is accompanied by public goals for our most significant environmental issues — backed by internal audits, and in certain instances, receiving limited assurance by a third party.”
For 2021, Cisco’s progress – which is described in the report – is notable:
- A 60 percent reduction in global Scope 1 and 2 greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions compared to FY07 base year. Cisco met its FY22 goal of reducing this by 60 percent one year early.
- 85 percent of the company’s energy came from renewable sources, meeting its FY22 goal one year early.
- $477 million in cash and in-kind contributions were provided to community programs by Cisco and the Cisco Foundation (equivalent to 3.6 percent of pre-tax profit).
- 680 million people were positively impacted through Cisco’s social impact grants and signature programs. This is 68 percent of the company’s goal of impacting one billion people by 2025.
- 3 million students participated in Cisco Networking Academy, for the largest number of participants so far. Since 1997, 15 million students have participated in the program.
- $1 million in cash prizes awarded to social entrepreneurs through the 5th annual Cisco Global Problem Solver Challenge, with a total of $2.25 million to 63 start-ups in 20 countries since 2016.
- 269,000 employee volunteer hours and $34 million in employee donations and Cisco Foundation matching gifts.
This is great progress, powered by caring and wise global and community initiatives aimed at helping people and our Earth. Cisco’s efforts are laudable, and its Cisco Purpose report is inspiring.
Cisco on the Move
Even as Cisco is working toward deeper and sustained corporate social responsibility efforts, it is also continuing its business mission of bring a vital and successful technology company. Cisco posted strong Q2 FY2022 earnings figures in February, with revenue of $12.7 billion and earnings of 84 cents per share, as it continues to deliver strong growth numbers across its main product segments and regions. And that continuing growth comes even with the global pressures of ongoing COVID-19 supply constraints, cost impacts and related challenges.
We commend on Cisco for its ongoing performance and for its efforts aimed at ESG, CSR and protecting our Earth.
Good Equals Progress provides industry research and analysis on the topics of Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) and Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI). These columns are for educational purposes only and should not be considered in any way investment advice.
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The original version of this article was first published on Good Equals Progress.