The following is an excerpt from the 2020 CSR Impact Report, published on December 8, 2020.

Cisco employees continue to seek ways to make an impact, especially during this difficult time. We made this easier by doubling the number of paid days off available for employees to volunteer from five to 10 in 2020. In addition, we increased the annual match for employee giving and volunteering from US$10,000 to US$25,000. Disaster response campaigns launched to address specific crises are matched at US$10,000 per employee per campaign and do not count against the annual match limit.

In addition, Chairman and CEO Chuck Robbins challenged Cisco’s 77,000+ employees to make donations to global nonprofits supporting those most vulnerable to COVID-19, which were matched by the Cisco Foundation. Employees quickly achieved the initial goal of US$750,000 in giving and matching over a 72-hour period, raising US$3.2 million for more than 50 organizations by the end of the fiscal year.

In response to employee demand, Cisco also helped facilitate a menu of virtual volunteering options. Opportunities included translating texts for humanitarian organizations, volunteering for crisis help lines, providing résumé and job interview assistance, donating food and school supplies for children, and more.

Standing up for social justice

In fiscal 2020, Cisco pledged US$5 million in grants to social justice organizations, including nonprofits in our internal Fighting Racism and Discrimination Fund, which continues to provide employee donations and matching contributions to 16 nonprofits focused on social justice. A dynamic team, including Inclusive Communities members (Cisco’s version of EROs), is partnering with Cisco’s Community Impact team to determine how best to build long-term relationships with the nonprofits in the Fund.

Preventing homelessness and serving youth

Long-time Cisco nonprofit partner Destination: Home, a public-private partnership working to end and prevent homelessness year-round in Santa Clara County, California, proactively set up a relief fund designed to help families bridge the gap created by lost jobs during the pandemic. They received thousands of applications that all needed rapid review. Cisco volunteers helped accelerate the application review process and payment by receiving training and then reviewing the applications for funding.

Cisco also has a strong partnership with Covenant House International, an organization providing housing and supportive services to youth facing homelessness. In November 2019, hundreds of Cisco employees slept outside during the Covenant House “sleep out” in cities across the U.S. Sleep outs raise awareness about youth homelessness and funding to support Covenant House programs. During the event, Cisco employees generated over US$1.8 million in support for Covenant House through their donations and Cisco Foundation matching gifts.

In March 2020, Cisco employees helped the Young Professionals Sleep Out event go virtual, allowing communities across the U.S. to connect through a livestreamed Webex event. During the broadcast, participants learned just how difficult the COVID-19 outbreak has been for homeless youth already facing extraordinary challenges.

Through Cisco’s Next Horizon Impact initiative, Cisco Chairman and CEO Chuck Robbins brought together customers, partners, and suppliers to raise tens of thousands of dollars for people in the Bay Area experiencing homelessness as the COVID-19 crisis began. Robbins led a discussion featuring Jen Loving, CEO of Destination: Home, who shared the crisis facing the region’s most vulnerable.

Chief People, Policy & Purpose Officer Francine Katsoudas led a second wave of outreach and discussion with partners and suppliers, along with CEO of Great Place to Work Michael Bush, Loving, and Covenant House California CEO Bill Bedrossian. Bush shared how companies who treat communities well differentiate themselves in the market and will lead as we build a path out of the crisis and back to a thriving economy. These conversations led to an increase in awareness and key relationships as a result of Next Horizon Impact, which will lead to more resources for the homeless community.

Global Citizen impact

Global Citizen is focused on ending extreme poverty by 2030. As Global Citizen’s technology partner, Cisco is foundational to the organization’s ability to engage millions of citizens around the world—our employees among them. In fiscal 2020, over 1200 employees took action on GlobalCitizen.org to advocate for changes in policy, legislation, and leadership behavior to address the root causes of poverty. Actions included signing a petition, sending an email, or participating in social media campaigns.

Staying Earth Aware, virtually

Cisco has observed Earth Day for many years—but we also do much more, organizing a two-month employee volunteerism and awareness campaign that we call Earth Aware. During a typical year, we invite employees to practice sustainable behaviors, like biking to work and properly sorting waste in cafeterias, and host events like on-campus farmers markets. In fiscal 2020, Earth Aware went fully online, featuring virtual presentations on living a zero-waste lifestyle, environmental justice, and cleaning local watersheds, as well as a sustainability trivia event. We even gave employees a virtual tour of the new beehives at our Research Triangle Park campus.

Earth Aware 2020 also included a virtual SustainX, our thought leadership forum on sustainability. During this annual event, we invite internal executives to share what their teams are doing to reduce their environmental impact and external speakers to discuss the innovative ways they are working to improve the environment. In fiscal 2020, leading environmentalist and author Paul Hawken shared existing strategies for drawing down carbon from the atmosphere in order to reduce global warming, and a Cisco Fellow explained how our new 8000 Series routers save significant amounts of power and materials.

Living sustainably year-round

Beyond Earth Aware, Cisco has ongoing opportunities for employees to connect with peers who share a passion for sustainability—and make changes in their lives and in the workplace. Cisco Green is a hub on our internal social media site that enables employees to learn about Cisco’s environmental sustainability activities. It provides links to programs, information, and other tools. For those looking to connect with others, Cisco GreenHouse is an interactive sustainability web platform that helps Cisco employees find likeminded peers worldwide who want to lead more sustainable lives. As a core program featured in Community Impact, Cisco GreenHouse was promoted on the companywide digital portal and more than doubled its active users.

Promoting circular business models

Another way Cisco contributes to sustainability is by helping advance the circular economy. To grow awareness and inspire employees to contribute to Cisco’s circular economy transformation, we publish a quarterly circular economy newsletter, manage a circular economy Webex Teams space, and provide other opportunities to engage throughout the year. In fiscal 2020, we hosted two employee webinars on topics related to circular operations and circular design and launched an internal website with case studies on the Cisco Circular Design Principles. We also regularly convene extended team members and other internal stakeholders through a variety of workgroups, including the Circular Design Working Group, the Circular Economy Regional Leader Network, and the Circular Economy Sales Champion Network.

Connecting employees to how products are made

Launched in fiscal 2020, the Cisco Responsible Sourcing campaign is raising internal awareness of our commitment to source products ethically and sustainably. One element of the campaign is our Champions of Sustainability, a recognition program that highlights the people behind responsible sourcing at Cisco across our Supply Chain Operations and Global Procurement Services. The champions demonstrate a shared commitment to sustainability and drive social and environmental responsibility in how we source goods and services.

We also developed a supply chain human rights training to raise awareness and educate employees on how they can help follow through on our human rights commitments. More than 2400 employees have taken the training, including employees in supply chain operations, customer experience, enterprise networking, and cloud.

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.

Cisco impact report graphic


Jennifer Boynton

Corporate Social Responsibility Content Strategist

Corporate Affairs