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Cisco Employee Shares How to Pay it Forward

February 21, 2014 at 9:00 am PST

Screen Shot 2014-02-20 at 12.21.14 PMThis blog was written by Ricardo Benavidez, a government and community relations manager at Cisco, and originally published by Citizen Schools, one of Cisco’s nonprofit partners.

If you walk through my neighborhood of East San Jose you will hear this same story told again and again. The story of men and women who have come to this country in search of a better life, in hopes of securing a better future for themselves and their families. Often this never amounts to more than a hope, but in the case of my parents the goal of securing a better future was secured.

I have the fortune of writing this not only as the government and community relations manager for Cisco, but as a testimony to what one can achieve if given the proper tools. My parents migrated to the US in the ’70s from Mexico– my dad a butcher and my mom a janitor. Neither had much schooling when they arrived to the United States. I took note at a young age how hard they worked and how little they made.

Years later after having been given a strong foundation, I found myself wondering what can I do with the opportunities I have in some cases been handed, in others had to fight for, and in many ways have just been lucky to receive. The answer was a simple one, pay it forward. By sharing my time, my experiences, and my resources I have become a part of a movement to help inspire under-served students to achieve. 

As a volunteer "Citizen Teacher" Ricardo teaches a 10-week after-school apprenticeship on a topic his is passionate about.

As a volunteer, Ricardo teaches a 10-week after-school apprenticeship on a topic his is passionate about.

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A New Look for Corporate Social Responsibility at Cisco

For years I suppose I was just like you, pretty cynical about the whole concept of “Corporate” social responsibility. Can an organization be truly socially responsible given the bottom line is selling product? Five years ago I left an industry I loved, education technology, and entered into the amorphous world of corporate social responsibility (CSR). Thanks to my tutor Teri Treille, who is a queen among luddites when it comes to articulating the intricacies of capturing, and tracking, a corporation’s commitment to society, my level of understanding for the movement of sustainability and socially responsible corporate actions has grown deep.

What I discovered about my company is that giving back to global communities to ensure they thrive is as integrated into our culture as is building networks. Over the years Cisco leaders such as Tae Yoo, Randy Pond, Kathy Mulvany and others have refined a strategy that is unique among our peers. By tying technology, partnerships, and expertise together they have built a strong network that is flexible and allows all employees to integrate CSR into their strategic plans.

There is no doubt that managed well, CSR can create great social and environmental value, support a company’s business objectives while reducing operating costs, and enhance relationships with key stakeholders and customers. But it is no easy task for executives to reconcile various CSR programs, quantify their benefits, and articulate the connection to the business goals while securing the support of his or her business line counterparts. When you see it happen it sometimes seems spontaneous. Digging deeper though you begin to understand that CSR is more than the framework by which to measure success: It is always about the people in the organization who care about taking initiatives to improve our world.

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Cisco Launches New Corporate Social Responsibility Website

Cisco Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) has redesigned its external website csr.cisco.com.

The new format makes it easy to find and share impact stories that showcase how Cisco CSR is benefiting people, communities, and the planet. Bringing together technology, partnerships, and our expertise are important reasons for the success of Cisco’s CSR public/private partnerships and its flagship programs like the Cisco Networking Academy.

From the home page you can easily access blog articles by Cisco and sponsored posts on the Huffington Post Impact X section, highlighting how people and technology are converging for social good. The new News and Events page keep readers up-to-date, and our new social sharing feature makes it easy to share compelling content with your online communities.

Each Cisco CSR focus area has its own section: education, healthcare, economic empowerment, critical human needs, environmental sustainability,  ethics, supply chain, and our people.

Please check out the new site at csr.cisco.com, share a story with a friend, and let us know what you think.

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Cisco Nonprofit Partner Featured on 60 Minutes for Efforts to End Chronic Homelessness

Community Solutions, a national nonprofit that Cisco has supported with cash and product grants since 2011, was featured on 60 Minutes this week for its 100,000 Homes Campaign — a collaboration of more than 200 communities working together to collectively house 100,000 chronically homeless people in the United States by July 2014.

Our partnership will enable Community Solutions to more effectively convene community members at Rapid Results Housing Boot Camps and webinars to transfer best practices, encourage and share innovation, and enable crowd-sourced problem solving. On average, participating communities are doubling their monthly housing placement rates in just 100 days.

George Siletti struggled with homelessness for about 30 years. In 2003, he was placed in an apartment in upper northwest Washington. D.C. Today, at 57, George is part of Friendship Place, a volunteer group that helps the homeless, and has a goal of getting his G.E.D.

George Siletti struggled with homelessness for about 30 years. In 2003, he was placed in an apartment in upper northwest Washington. D.C. Today, at 57, George is part of Friendship Place, a volunteer group that helps the homeless, and has a goal of getting his G.E.D. Photo: Friendship Place

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Cisco is Stepping Up and Leaning In with the Women of Impact Conference

jacpisciThis post was written by guest blogger Jaclyn Lanasa, Enterprise Account Manager Cisco NYC. Jaclyn Lanasa & Olivia Shen Green are co-directors of the 2014 Cisco Women of Impact Conference

About a year ago, Cisco Systems CEO John Chambers told his employees that Sheryl Sandberg’s “Lean In” book had opened his eyes. He vowed to walk the walk promoting diversity at his company. As a female working at Cisco for over eight years, I am proud to work in an organization that not only is brave enough to state where they have overlooked an issue, but is actively and openly talking about how they will make necessary changes to correct the problem. It provided both leadership as well as individual contributor’s an opportunity to collectively strategize on how we can further increase the diversity at all levels within the organization.

There are reasons many companies like Cisco are taking a closer look at their own diversity statistics and what impact that has on their business. Women are 57% of college graduates and 63% of Master’s degree holders, but that majority fades as careers progress. Less than 5% of Fortune 500 CEOs, less than 14% of Executive Officer positions, and less than 20% of Congress positions are held by women. Interestingly, regardless of the negative statistics outlined above, there is a direct correlation on the success of an organization as it relates to a more diverse leadership team. Fortune 500 companies with three or more women in board positions created a competitive advantage over companies with no women on their boards in the following three areas:

• Return on Sales: 84% advantage
• Return on Invested Capital: 60% advantage
• Return on Equity: 46% advantage

There is no better time for women and organizations to Lean In together and take advantage of the joint success that each has on the other. There are many programs, initiatives and efforts that are being held throughout Cisco in an effort to do just that. One activity I want to share with you is my excitement around our upcoming Women of Impact (WoI) Conference on March 6th, 2014.

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