This post was written by guest blogger Unni Nair, manager for Cisco’s Supply Chain Sustainability and Diversity.unnair

As companies seek better ways to connect with and compete in markets all around the world, having a diversity mindset plays an increasingly important role. Cisco’s supply chain is particularly relevant to this focus because, as one of the largest and most complex supply chains in the world, regions, cultures, communities and customers can be connected through our business operations. When these connections are valued and nurtured, it underscores a company’s committed path to inclusion and diversity.

To better leverage diversity across operations, an inflection point came in 2014 as Cisco began an ambitious initiative to transform its global supply chain operation. Many programs and ideas, like diversity, helped ignite this transformation. Within a year, Cisco was named #6 on Gartner’s 2015 Supply Chain Top 25. According to Gartner, the future of many companies will depend on their willingness and ability to rethink their supply chains and evolve.

Supplier diversity can play a powerful role and serve as a strong competitive advantage for businesses – especially supply chains – as it opens new channels to access skills, provides resiliency, promotes inclusiveness, broadens partnership opportunities and offers an abundance of viewpoints needed to solve today’s complex challenges. We believe business is strengthened, as diversity boosts our social license to better understand and successfully operate around the world.


Diversity programs can, and should, invigorate business simply because they obligate organizations to be bold when forming and maintaining partnerships. A strong procurement process helps to shun complacency and boost alternative methods, identify products or services that can enhance the business and breathe in new ideas. As Cisco continues to track progress, data, and trends in supplier diversity, it has become clear that digitization represents a significant opportunity that has the potential of future success.

Diversity also invigorates a company culture. Ongoing feedback has shown us that employees and customers appreciate when an organization reflects the communities in which they live and work. It also signals that leaders don’t simply exist in a silo within their own organization, but instead have the wisdom to engage the external business environment. In doing so, we intentionally design consciousness back into the natural bias people develop over time toward other people, processes or systems of thought. This strengthens company culture, promotes objectivity and breaks down silos – which fuels innovation and reinforces a well-rounded mindset.

While it’s no simple task for a large global organization like Cisco to be agile, we know that prioritizing diversity in our workforce and supply chain generates flexibility. As the global marketplace becomes even more dynamic and complex, we will continue to evolve by embracing diverse perspectives across our workforce and partner ecosystem to drive a more sustainable supply chain and business for the future.

Read more about our Supplier Diversity efforts in Cisco’s 2015 Corporate Social Responsibility Report.


Austin Belisle

No Longer with Cisco