In the summer of 2010, Veronica Recanati, Security Partner Account Manager for Cisco Italy, spent one month of paid time off volunteering at an orphanage in Tanzania. It turned out to be a life-changing experience not just for her, but for many of her colleagues in Rome.
In Tanzania, Veronica realized just one euro could buy ten meals for children. She realized more help was needed, not just in Tanzania, but at home in Italy and around the world. And she realized she wanted be involved.
“It was like a bomb that exploded in my head,” Veronica says. “I wanted to use my experience with Cisco to help.”
Today, Veronica is part of a very active Italy Civic Council – a group of Cisco employees that leads volunteer and charitable activities at the local level.
Civic Councils are an important part of Cisco’s Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) approach, which combines human and technology networks to multiply impact. When our employees throughout the world coalesce to help others and apply Cisco technology to solve problems in the communities around them, we can make a meaningful impact on far more people.
Veronica and the 31 other members of the Italy Civic Council are proof of that.
When Veronica’s colleagues heard about her trip to Tanzania, they were inspired. The Cisco Country Manager for Italy, David Bevilacqua, presented her with a donation of US$5000 to the orphanage from Cisco Italy. Employees donated another EURO€1000 (US$1270), plus clothes, shoes, and books; the money helped build a school at the orphanage.
When Veronica went back to Tanzania to check the status of the school, she met someone from Sensacional, an Italian charitable organization active in the international cooperation field. Cisco Italy liked Sensacional’s approach based on transparency and decided to support the young organization and to donate funds for a library in Ecuador. Today Sensacional is part of the Cisco Matching Program.
Like Veronica, many other Italy Civic Council ambassadors are cooperating to help communities. Through the power of human and technology networks, they are engaged in many initiatives aimed at making a difference. A few examples:
- Cisco Italy collaborates with the Polizia Postale, the Internet police department, to visit schools and educate students and parents about Internet safety. About 108 ambassadors participate in the program nationwide.
- A strong product grant donation program has provided 23 different charities with 75 products, such as phones, computers, switches, routers, and the Cisco WebEx solution. Systems engineers in Italy even worked with local service provider Vodafone to bring an Internet connection to a research scientist in Calabria, a remote region in southern Italy.
- An online portal where Cisco employees, partners, and customers can donate to charities, find volunteer opportunities, and log their activities has generated EURO€80,000 (US$101,800) for charitable organizations to date.
- High school students are regularly invited to visit Cisco’s facility in Milan to learn about professional opportunities in the information and communications technology (ICT) field.
- Employees participate in annual fundraising activities common in many offices, such as selling candy at Easter, raising thousands of euros for charities each year. Donationbay Band, a rock band comprised of Cisco employees, performs for charity, and employees participate in a blood donation drive three times a year.
Veronica says she is grateful to work for a company that is so civic-minded and supports her efforts to help people in her own community and other parts of the world.
“I feel very useful if I do something good for others,” Veronica says. “It is great that I can do it while working at Cisco--they give me the possibility to do all of these activities.”
On May 22, the yearlong Cisco VolunteerX Campaign will get underway, encouraging Cisco employees throughout the world to volunteer their time and talent to charitable organizations.
Employees in different operational functions and geographic regions will compete against each other. The functions and regions that accumulate the most community service hours will each win a grant of US$25,000 to award to a nonprofit organization of their choice.
“Through this initiative, we can remind employees about the interconnected relationships that branch out from our work into our communities,” says Director of Cisco Global Community Relations Sandra Wheatley. “We touch nearly every part of the community in some way and that gives us the ability to engage with a wide range of people and organizations.”
Community Relations will also donate US$1 for every approved photo and video employees post to the Cisco CSR Facebook page during the Cisco VolunteerX Campaign.
Visit the Cisco CSR website to read more about the impact of our societal investments.