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.
In my role as Senior Marketing Manager for CSR I am privileged to watch over our social channels and see daily how our employees are engaged. It could be Cisco Portugal employees renovating houses within an SOS Village of Bicesseon or an executive such as Mark Yolten and his Digital Strategy and Enablement team highlighting community “give-back” programs for all employees to participate. Or being on cross-department team meetings and discovering people like Business Analyst Cindy Cooley, whose passion is mentoring Rwandan women as a member of a TechWomen delegation with the State Department. And then there are exemplary employees like Hital Mujai, a true leader for advancing youth in Kenya.
In the beginning CSR communications often fell to sharing just the “good deeds” of your company. But as the level of interest has risen and the sophistication of stakeholders has grown, it is now essential to have CSR communications be targeted, transparent, and authentic. Therefore I am pleased to announce today the launch of Cisco’s new Corporate Social Responsibility website. Our vision for this site was to establish a coherent, cohesive narrative that’s grounded both in the realities of our company’s CSR progress and the vision of our brand promise. With the help of Alexis Raymond and her stellar ability to craft content that is web friendly and engaging, and Bryce McBride whose dedication to his craft as a webmaster and designer, we were able to produce some exciting new features on our site:
• Social integration for easy sharing of our content to your social channels
• Larger photo carousel for more dramatic visual storytelling
• News and events sections for easy access to Cisco’s CSR global activities
• Front-page access to our Huffington Post Impact x editorial content and cisco.com blogs
Many of our followers and stakeholders wanted us to tell more of those stories of impact that Cisco CSR is having on people, communities, and the planet. So here are some examples of the “impact stories” you will read on the new CSR site:
Cisco Networking Academy helps South African woman find a pathway out of poverty
Technology helps farmers increase productivity in India
Technology transforms healthcare for rural patients in Jordan
Cisco products create business and environmental value for customers
IT training and credentials help U.S. military veterans jump-start civilian careers
We hope you enjoy sharing stories from our new site with your colleagues, clients, and family. Send us your feedback as you learn more about Cisco’s corporate social responsibility and let us know what stories made you smile.