The following is an excerpt from the 2019 CSR report.

Defining our culture isn’t enough. We also need to act on it. This thought was behind the launch of Our People Deal movement, a community of employees who think about and act on culture. Working for Cisco means committing to “Our People Deal.” We call it a “deal” because culture is a two-way street, a relationship of give and take. In FY19, we built upon Our People Deal by introducing Conscious Culture.

The Our People Deal movement began with a few employees who came together in 2016 and started to spot other employees with a similar mindset. Today, there are over 200 employees who meet every six weeks to learn from each other and share ways to drive our cause.

Out of this group, 15 ambassadors were chosen in 2018 to help close the gap between senior leaders’ perception of Cisco’s culture and how employees experience it. These ambassadors are the cultural role models who represent the rest of us. In 2019, we selected a new cohort of ambassadors.

Sponsored by Francine Katsoudas, Executive Vice President and Chief People Officer, and David Goeckeler, Executive Vice President and General Manager, Networking and Security Business, ambassadors make recommendations on how to continue to improve our culture, based on what people on the front lines actually think and feel. For example, the new Conscious Culture framework and Leader Day program evolved from ambassadors’ input.

In FY20, we launched the Living Cisco program, which was created by the first cohort of ambassadors. They were tasked with finding a way to embed Cisco’s Principles across each organization so that our people embrace, internalize, and live them every day. The team developed a relay game through which employees can show appreciation for colleagues who exhibit each of our Principles. Virtual tokens of appreciation are passed from person to person, and as tokens pass, money is raised for charity. Employees can also discover ways to make our culture stronger by taking quizzes or reading stories. In the first two months of the program launch, we’ve passed almost 3,000 tokens, raising $3,000 for charities.

We sat down with Nish Parkar, an ambassador from London, U.K., to learn about her experiences as a culture champion.

Nish Parkar
Nish Parkar

Q: How did you become a People Deal Ambassador?

A: Our leadership team selected ambassadors from throughout the company. A good ambassador is someone who has a passion for sharing Cisco’s culture. It’s also someone with guts. One of our responsibilities is to provide constructive feedback—with no filter—to Cisco’s Executive Leadership Team.

Q: What other responsibilities do ambassadors have?

A: Our purpose is to be the voice of all Cisco employees. Just as important as being up on stage in front of our executives is being a role model through small, everyday activities. On a regular basis, we give feedback and drive change through internal events, long-term projects, and role-modeling on the change we want to see at Cisco and in our communities.

Q: What sorts of projects have you taken on?

A: Our Executive Vice President and Chief People Officer, Francine Katsoudas, approached the ambassadors with a challenge: find a way to bring Cisco’s Principles to life. One of my fellow ambassadors had an idea to turn them into a game. From there, we created the Living Cisco program, where ambassadors pass tokens of appreciation to employees living Our Principles. We also capture stories of people doing amazing things and donate to selected charities every time a token is passed. It’s been amazing to hear all of the stories that have been shared from around the world.

Q: What’s your favorite thing about being a People Deal Ambassador?

A: Getting to know my fellow ambassadors. This experience has bonded 15 strangers—based all around the world and from all parts of the business—into one family. Each ambassador has taught me so much,
and the experience has opened my eyes to the wider world. I know we’re going to do amazing things.


Jennifer Boynton

Corporate Social Responsibility Content Strategist

Corporate Affairs