The following is an excerpt from the 2019 CSR report.

An important input to report content and CSR strategy is a materiality assessment. The assessment helps us understand what issues are most important to stakeholders inside and outside Cisco. We conduct a full assessment every two years. In years that we do not conduct a full assessment, we do an internal materiality refresh. This helps us validate priorities relative to business risks and opportunities. Each year, we provide results to the Cisco Governance, Risk, and Controls team, which feeds into Cisco’s ERM program.

Our latest assessment, completed by an independent consultant in FY19, evaluated 14 topics. We validated these topics in a variety of ways, including:

  • Reviewing CSR inquiries from customers, partners, and investors
  • Conducting social media listening
  • Interviewing external stakeholders
  • Surveying employees
  • Benchmarking against other companies

The assessment helps us prioritize investments, executive sponsorship, risk management, and stakeholder engagement. The issues evaluated in FY19—and their resulting rankings—are pictured below.

Materiality matrix


We reframed several of our priority topics compared to the previous assessment. For example, a new topic, economic inequality, refers to our efforts to address inequities globally and locally. Participants also showed increased interest in Cisco’s local community impact.

The scope of our environmental impact includes our operations, extended operations (supply chain), and products and services. The review confirmed that our environment-related priorities remain:

  • Energy and GHG emissions from our operations and those of our suppliers, as well as from use of our products
  • Product and packaging materials focusing on material resource efficiency, waste from our operations, and extended operations (supply chain)

We address these top two priorities through initiatives with dedicated funding and program structure. And we motivate and measure progress through publicly announced goals. We address our remaining environmental issues through normal operational due diligence by the responsible business functions. The order of environmental issues within Tier 3 also indicates a prioritization. However, it recognizes a wider uncertainty band compared to Tiers 1 and 2.

In addition to our materiality assessment, we consider stakeholder input to rank environmental topics. In FY18, Cisco invited approximately 5,000 customers across all regions and market segments to complete an online survey on environmental sustainability. Feedback from this FY18 survey matched the results of the FY19 sustainability materiality assessment.

UN Sustainable Development Goals

We know that the actions we take can have ripple effects across the globe. It’s why we’ve been giving back to global communities for more than 30 years and why we’ve committed to positively impacting 1 billion people by 2025. In much the same way, the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) require global cooperation and ambitious commitment. The 17 SDGs set forth a framework to build a better world for people and our planet by 2030 and are designed to be applied by governments and organizations worldwide.

Cisco’s targeted CSR efforts align with many of the SDGs, and we share the UN’s vision for a peaceful, inclusive future. Given that our CSR priorities are aligned with our corporate CSR risks and opportunities, we leverage Cisco’s unique capabilities, expertise, and resources to maximize impact within the context of Cisco’s enterprise wide goals to benefit people, society, and the planet. Table 1 outlines our material priorities and the SDGs where we believe Cisco’s CSR programs are having a positive impact.

Material risks, opportunities, and the SDGs

Material risks, opportunities, and the SDGs (continued)

Material risks, opportunities, and the SDGs (continued)

Download the full 2019 CSR report:

Corporate Social Responsibility Report graphic


Jennifer Boynton

Corporate Social Responsibility Content Strategist

Corporate Affairs