One of the most serious and complex challenges that humanity faces is reversing the advance of climate change. It’s already affecting people and ecosystems around the globe, and disproportionately impacts the poor and vulnerable. Therefore, the work we do to protect the planet is directly linked to our efforts to protect the human rights, health, and well-being of people, including workers in our supply chain.

Cisco is taking action to drive a more just and sustainable future for the workers and communities in our value chain, and for us all collectively on this planet. This work includes designing our products and packaging to eliminate waste, and managing the lifecycle of those products to reduce resource consumption and keep our products in use longer. We are also partnering with our suppliers to improve environmental stewardship and reduce risks associated with pollution and chemical use. And we are promoting the protection of human rights and worker well-being, from mineral extraction to component manufacturing and final assembly.

Combating climate change

Today, sustainability is a business imperative. Many European governments, as well as the European Union, have made the fight against climate change a top priority with the ambitious target to become the first climate neutral continent by 2050. In the United States, President Biden rejoined the Paris Agreement on his first day in office and he has set a goal of making the U.S. carbon neutral by 2050. I believe we will see more countries adopt these types of goals and priorities.

In terms of Cisco’s operations and global supply chain, we want to be bold and drive positive change in our industry and beyond. We have set ambitious goals and committed the necessary resources to make meaningful progress in reducing our environmental impact and accelerating our contributions to a circular economy. For example, by 2025, we have committed that 100 percent of new Cisco products and packaging will incorporate circular design principles. Cisco has also pledged 100 percent product return as part of our commitment to the PACE Capital Equipment Coalition.

Reducing the use of virgin plastic is also a priority for us, as a material we use in our products and packaging and global concerns about plastic waste. The volume of plastic that is used by companies around the world is incredibly damaging to the environment. If we can use more renewable materials, we can make a big dent in reducing our impact. That’s why we have committed to decrease our use of virgin plastic by 20 percent compared to 2018.

We are also working with our logistics and manufacturing partners to reduce their environmental impact. We have set goals to reduce our supply chain-related Scope 3 greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 30% absolute by 2030. More broadly, Cisco works to address the impacts of climate change through our efforts to reduce energy consumption during product use – and in our energy efficiency improvements and renewable energy sourcing for our own operations. We have already reduced our Scope 1 and 2 GHG emissions by 55% compared to 2007. And we source 83% of Cisco’s total global electricity from wind, solar, and hydroelectric sources.

Additionally, we are seeing an increase in opportunities to leverage our technology to support transitions to more sustainable and circular business models, whether with our partners or customers or in broader collaborative initiatives. From agriculture to fashion, smart cities and the transition to digital technologies such as IoT, there is significant potential to enable every private and public sector vertical to reduce their emissions, improve their resource efficiency and switch to more circular business models.

Protecting the rights and well-being of workers

We are committed to addressing social injustice because we believe it is the right thing to do. There are more than 75,000 employees at Cisco and an additional 25,000 people that work in our extended supply chain making our products. Given the global presence of our operation, we think about social justice issues from many dimensions, including how we address potential impacts on our workforce.  We work to support our people with a culture that is beneficial to all. We are focused on utilizing resources to take action and drive meaningful change, and we encourage our employees, suppliers, communities and partners to join us in addressing inequities in our communities.

COVID-19 has driven interest globally on how we rebuild a more just and sustainable society. For example, prior to the pandemic, migrant workers were already among the most vulnerable in the world to various forms of exploitation. The health crisis has severely escalated this situation. We are committed to ensuring that human rights are upheld for the workers in our supply chain.

In our COVID-19 guidelines to suppliers, we reiterated that it’s unethical and never acceptable to exploit desperate or vulnerable job seekers. We are continuing our work to stop forced labor risks, through remote assessments and investigations where onsite audits are difficult due to the pandemic. We also strictly enforce our no recruitment fees policy and continue to push remediation, understanding that vulnerable workers need relief. And we followed up with key suppliers to ensure they had COVID-19 practices in place to support foreign migrant workers, and to provide medical treatment and isolate COVID-19 cases in dormitories.

How it’s made matters

We are focused on climate change and human rights issues because they matter. Not only now, but in terms of what the world will look like in 50 or 100 years. Having a social and environmentally responsible supply chain is not just about setting a baseline and working with suppliers to meet that expectation. It’s about identifying best practices and propagating them throughout our value chain. We do this through collaboration with stakeholders, and work to raise the bar for our industry. We engage our suppliers to broaden their perspectives, influence them to care about the same issues we do, and drive them towards sustainable practices.

I believe everyone can make an impact and participate in our mission. I encourage you to read our 2020 Corporate Social Responsibility Impact Report to learn more.


John Kern

Senior Vice President, Supply Chain Operations