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The following is an excerpt from the 2020 CSR Impact Report.

Q: Cisco has introduced a new purpose to power an Inclusive Future for all. What role will Cisco’s CSR programs play in bringing this purpose to life?

A: Powering an Inclusive Future for all is not a recent development. The power of our technology to create positive outcomes on a global scale was immediately apparent to Cisco’s founders and has been core to our CSR programs ever since. We have always focused on providing individuals and communities with access to opportunities—helping people get their basic needs met, obtain relevant skills, and find or create meaningful employment in a digital economy. Together with our employees and partners in the public and nonprofit sectors, we are excited about the future and our potential to drive even greater outcomes as we work to create a more inclusive world.

Q: 2020 was an unusual year by any measure, with significantly increased needs as the world responded to COVID-19. How did Cisco help its nonprofit partners pivot to the new realities brought on by the pandemic?

A: We bring to bear all our available resources—the passion of our employees, our funding, our technology, and our expertise—to support our nonprofit community partners who are working tirelessly to improve lives around the globe. Through our CSR model of investing in early-stage tech solutions, our partners were already using technology to deliver their programs and services. This enabled them to quickly pivot, rapidly accelerate, and deliver different types of services to address the new and emerging needs resulting from COVID-19. It’s also an indicator that they are well-positioned to evolve as new technology and circumstances (including crises) emerge. Looking ahead, we will continue to accelerate innovation with our existing partners, while seeding new opportunity with emerging partners.

Q: What did you learn through the initial phase of the pandemic? And what do you believe is next?

A: One of the greatest lessons we’ve learned from the pandemic is that we indeed can adapt, function, and innovate in this new normal. Although we were physically distanced in order to reduce the spread of COVID-19, we have found creative ways of getting together, getting engaged, and getting things done.

At the same time, we understand that the road forward, post-pandemic, is not an easy one. To avoid reinforcing prior inequities and vulnerabilities, it is critical that we apply significant effort on rebuilding. Of course, no single organization can tackle this alone. It’s more important than ever that we work together (businesses, nonprofits, governments) to help rebuild in a way that ensures positive outcomes and opportunity for all. At Cisco, we have a history of engaging in long-term partnerships and focusing on long-term commitments in service of an Inclusive Future. Living our purpose means continuing to get everyone involved, and that’s exactly what we intend to do.

To learn more about the progress we’re making to power a more inclusive future through CSR, visit our Cisco ESG Reporting Hub, where you can read our CSR Impact Report.