Acting on Our Core Values

November 1, 2018 - 52 Comments


“Cisco will be a critical voice advocating for fairness and equality – we’re committed to driving long-term solutions that build fairness into policies, practices, and laws that break down barriers. We must protect and advocate for the equality of transgender, intersex, and gender-expansive people inside and outside the workplace. Cisco is dedicated to taking a stand against any actions that threaten the equal rights, safety, and dignity of all people and will continue supporting the LGBTQ+ community.”

– Cisco’s Executive Vice President and Chief People Officer, Francine Katsoudas

Today, some 50 companies – including Cisco, Google, Apple, Nike, and MassMutual – signed a joint business statement issued by the Human Rights Campaign in support of transgender equality. This statement is in response to the recent news of a proposal to significantly narrow the definition of sex, which could remove all transgender rights and protections.

I’m proud that Cisco is speaking out on this issue and has consistently voiced opposition to any legislation that limits our employees’ rights and freedoms. We’ve worked across our communities to take effective action in the past, including our opposition to the controversial “bathroom bills” in North Carolina and Texas, for example, and we will continue to work to create an environment of fairness and equality – where everyone can thrive.

At Cisco, we have worked hard to build a culture of full-spectrum diversity, inclusion and collaboration. It’s part of our core values – to connect everything, innovate everywhere, and benefit everyone – and we believe it makes good business sense. These core values guide us as a company and demand that we take a stand against actions that threaten the equal rights, safety and dignity of our people, both inside our company and in the communities where they live.

These values are also part of Our People Deal – a strategy I’ve been involved with since its inception, and one that I’m particularly passionate about. Our People Deal is basically a contract that articulates what the company expects from its employees, and what they can expect from Cisco. It encourages employees to bring their whole selves to work and to create an environment of trust and mutual respect – an environment where our integrity defines and leads us. Where we say what needs to be said and hold ourselves accountable.

Cisco will continue to be a critical voice in the fight for fairness and equality on behalf of our people. We will continue to invest in programs that support our rich culture of inclusion and diversity – programs like our 25,000+ member Inclusion & Collaboration Community, which provides a safe space for employees to network, and share diverse perspectives and experiences. Programs like our Be the Bridge Annual Giving and Service Campaign, which supports organizations working for racial equality and social justice, with a match for employee donations. And our Employee Assistance Program that provides a personal concierge to help employees navigate the aspects of life that matter most.

Fran said it best, “we’re committed to advocating for long-term solutions that build fairness into policies, practices, and laws that break down barriers.” So let’s stop building barriers, and together, let’s build a bridge to fairness and equality for ALL.

We invite you to bring your voice to this discussion. How do you think companies can create more inclusive environments where all employees feel welcomed and supported?


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  1. I am so proud to work at Cisco when I see the company back initiatives to break barriers to inclusion down and keep them down. Well done Fran and Charlie.

  2. The problem is not with equality(define?) or equal opportunity. I believe that most people here support at the least equal opportunity.

    The core problem is inherited in some people who capitalized on "equality" in a fake and hypocritical way in order to promote their radical leftist agenda.

    For example the author of this "article"and his boss who support "gender equality", their own organization is far from being "gender equal" (At the least number of women vs. men employees).

    Another example is the severe unproportional number of Asian employees in engineering. Ironically, these are the same people who shout "diversity".

    No need to mention the effect of this hypocrisy on the employees' trust, when they can see these inequality and biases inside their office, but the company leaders prefer to turn a blind eye and to lecture us about the transgender people who are "0.005% to 0.014% " from the overall population.

    • I respect what you are saying immensely… it SUCKS when you don't see your group or a group you care about, in this case "Asian" (you mentioned), in equal numbers. It feels inequal. And I invite you to stand up and do something positive to change that. Are you aware that Cisco has employee resource groups, and that there is an Asian group?

      But Asians, aren't being targeted for firing because of being Asian. Or not hired. Or treated in discriminatory fashion. Nor are they being, discriminated widely against by portions of society. In some cases having to fear for their very lives. For Cisco to stick up for a specific, marginalized group of people shows leadership.

      The work they have done for women's equality and pay parity is amazing. And if "Asians" were a class of people that needed speaking up for loudly and boldly like certain humans do right now (LGBTQ+, women, humans with mental issues, etc…) then I know Cisco would be right there to speak up for them as well.

      For the record, I am a Cisco employee. I am writing of my own opinion and my thoughts, and not on behalf of Cisco. I am a peacemaker and common ground-finder. I am more of a centrist, but am super passionate about all people being treated with equal respect and dignity. I don't know if you are an employee or not, but Cisco is a respecter of all persons. And I hope you can see how I think that is pretty cool! Peace.

      • I think you got it wrong. The proportion of Asian including Indian are way more than their proportion in for a reason.

        The U.S. Department of Labor concluded that Cisco “secured visas for foreign workers instead of hiring U.S. citizens for certain jobs and paid the visa holders at a lower rate than their American counterparts,” legal-news website Bloomberg Law reported Monday, citing unnamed sources said to be familiar with the probe.

        I believe that your opinion is sincere. However, disconnected from reality. Equality (unlike Equal opportunities) is a result of choices one makes.

  3. I love Cisco. I love the People Deal. I love Cisco's commitment to people of all shapes and flavors. That we have teams dedicated to taking Cisco's financial and technology success out into the globe trying to make a difference and pay it back to our communities – all of our communities – is awesome. This is humanity in action, not a political agenda. Walking the talk and ensuring equal treatment for marginalized people is often used as political capital, but the action of hard working and dedicated people who fight for these rights is an act of passion, compassion and pure humanity.

    Unless you a person who is categorized as LGBTQ+ (or other discriminated-against groups) and have felt unsafe, unprotected and frankly terrified for your life and the ability to provide for your family and keep from being homeless due to bias and discrimination, I'm not sure one can fully appreciate how meaningful it is to read these words.

    Can you imagine losing your job because someone didn't like you? Not because of your work ethic, or all that you had produced or completed. What if you had worked somewhere for years and all of a sudden people knew something about you that they HATE for some reason (religion, gender-identity, where you were born, someone you married, etc…) and because of that biased, they discriminated against you and you lost your job and had to find a new one? What if medical circumstances were involved and you lost health insurance critical for yourself or a child or spouse? What if you could not find a new job? What if you lost your home? Had to sell your furniture, your vehicles, your prized possessions to make it?

    I know many people who have lived through that. My best friend lost his job after a new manager came in to his place of employment (not Cisco) and he went from the high rated employee to the lowest (not kidding) after 12 years of being a beloved manager. He lost everything. I have met many people in this situation over the years. It is unbelievably unfair. And there is usually no recourse because legal battles are long and hard and wipe out the individual.

    I do not understand why people are so rabid and hateful about equality. I do not consider it a hard left agenda. I consider it humane. I have friends across the spectrum – Democrat, Republican, Independent, etc… from all different faiths and walks of life. I find that the more people are open to people's stories and the individual, the more walls are torn down. Great love and understanding is shared between my friends and I across the board. Talking helps.

    This is yet another reason I love Cisco. We built the Internet. We are the architects of the greatest tool of democracy of our time. It is allowing us to talk and share and have conversations that we could not have had before at this scale. It fosters the breaking of ignorance. You do not have to be afraid of people you do not understand, because you can get to know who they are by taking the time to care and learn and communicate online. And to carry over conversations to meaningful real world cooler chats and lunch dates and dinner parties.

    Let us, the people, stop letting political agendas decide how we are going to act. To decide whether we spread love or hate. Positivity or negativity.

    Thank you Cisco. Thank you Charlie. And Fran. And Chuck. And to all Cisco employees who make the world a better place. I'm so proud to be a part of this Cisco family.


  4. CSCO moving further to the hard-left. Ironically at the same time their market share, across product lines, continues to slide. Equality is the corporate priority? Can CSCO define equality in this context? How is it measured now and in the future?

  5. Inspiring Charlie. It's pleasing to see Cisco leading the way once again. This topic is so important to creating and enabling a progressive and conscious culture where we can all co-exist as equals. #togetherness.

  6. Bias and discrimination against U.S. workers as was concluded by the department of labor is much more severe at the case of Cisco which was awarded nearly $259 million in federal contracts last year.
    Unfortunately, some people cannot keep their radical leftist agenda in bay, hurting Cisco business and its investors !

    While preaching "diversity" and "inclusion" it is hard to find the diversity of opinions here. Two possible options: postings are deleted or people fear to speak up. Neither options is inlined with what they preach.

  7. "Spam, promotional and derogatory comments will be removed and HTML formatting will not appear."

    Is that censorship? It lends itself to lack of discussion about core values.

    Anyway, I personally think all these labels should go away. Everyone I know has been discriminated against at some point for one thing or another. Cisco is the most diverse and inclusive company I know, and I don't see the need to concentrate on these issues, but rather concentrate on our business. Leave the "social warrior'ing" to those political hacks and not contribute any money, time or effort to changing people's beliefs. Just change yourself for the better, and do a reality check on yourself. Good people will come around if your are right, and if you are wrong, your cause will die out.

  8. This is amazing! Cisco leads the way in all the right categories!

  9. I am very happy to hear that Cisco is taking a stand. All employees should be equally treated with the same rights and freedom.

  10. I will continue to expose this fake, radical leftist perpetrate by the queen and kings of "equality" and "justice".
    As the U.S. Labor Department has reportedly found that Cisco Systems discriminated against U.S. workers in favor of foreign visa holders as was reported by multiple sources.

    For the HR police, you can delete my postings but try to fire me.
    Fortunately, besides politics the company should deliver products.

    • Perhaps this is because Cisco hired on the basis of how qualified and competent the people were rather than the nationality on their birth certificate?

      Too many in the USA look inwards, not outwards. We're all human.

      Sent from a Cisco UKI employee currently deployed in Australia.

  11. I'm thrilled Cisco is taking the lead in this regard, but I would also like to register my opposition to the existence of the Cisco corporate PAC, which according to the FEC website, donates to anti-equality candidates like Steve Scalise, Mitch McConnell, Cathy McMorris, Ted Cruz, Marsha Blackburn, John Barrasso, Roger Wicker, and many others who have voted against diversity, inclusion, and equality.

    I understand that Cisco contributes to many political campaigns and that there are a broad range of recipients all across the political spectrum. I agree that Cisco needs to work with legislators to achieve a lot of our goals. I do not think that we need a PAC in order to do so.

  12. I'm proud that we've taken this important first step. The follow-up work is hard, though. Have we informed all of our recruiters that we're actively seeking transgender candidates? Do our health benefits cover transition expenses and gender reassignment surgery? Are we promoting transgender people into positions of strategic leadership?

    I'm happy to be working for a company that's not afraid to stand up on this issue and talk the talk. That allyship is very important. Looking forward to walking the walk with you also.

    • Thanks, Anne, for your comment. Cisco supports transgender, non-binary and gender expansive employees in many ways. Cisco insurance plans do provide coverage of transition-related care today, and Cisco proactively provides training for team leaders and teams of individuals who are undergoing a transition. Cisco also sponsors and participates in LGBTQ conferences, such as Out4U, and OutandEqual, and various other events sponsored in the community via our PRIDE Employee Resource Group. One element of these events is to connect with amazing talent in the LGBTQ community and make sure they are aware of the opportunities Cisco has to offer. That said, we are always seeking additional opportunities to make our environment more inclusive. We have an active dialogue with our LGBTQ+ community about how to offer even more support.

  13. Can't find the diverse opinions here.
    Oh well, looks like they were deleted…

    • Whoa, that's not good! If they didn't violate the Terms of Service, I would hate to think that any comments are getting deleted. We can't have healthy discussions if we shut down the side that's saying what we don't want to hear. If you said whatever you said without namecalling or slurs, I don't think it should have been deleted.

  14. Glad to see leadership from Cisco and other businesses on this important issue.

    Diversity makes us all stronger.

  15. Thank you. Now please also tell the government you won't tolerate a Muslim ban.

  16. So glad that Cisco is taking a public stance on this. ALL humans are valid.

  17. H-1B visa-reliant Cisco ‘secured visas for foreign workers instead of hiring U.S. citizens’: report
    By ETHAN BARON | | Bay Area News Group
    PUBLISHED: August 21, 2018 at 10:13 am | UPDATED: August 22, 2018 at 7:00 am
    Federal investigators found San Jose tech giant Cisco discriminated against American workers by favoring visa-carrying foreign nationals, according to a new report.

    The U.S. Department of Labor concluded that Cisco “secured visas for foreign workers instead of hiring U.S. citizens for certain jobs and paid the visa holders at a lower rate than their American counterparts,” legal-news website Bloomberg Law reported Monday, citing unnamed sources said to be familiar with the probe.

  18. Glad to know that Cisco stands in support for all. Thank you

  19. Our commitment to our values is inspiring. Proud to be a part of a company that understands equality is not a right for some- but for all. Thank you Charlie for being you and for living our values every single day!

  20. Another reason I'm proud to work here. We need to continue to take leadership positions on issues like this.

  21. A world without everyone supporting and respecting each other's individuality creates a world of fear and cruelty. We move so far beyond the limits of ourselves only to takes 2 steps backwards. I'm so proud to work for a company that will take a stand for what is right.

  22. Cisco paid CEO Chuck Robbins 160 times its average employee pay … › Enterprise
    Oct 24, 2018 – CiscoCisco CEO Chuck Robbins made 160x the median employee's compensation in fiscal 2018.Cisco CEO Chuck Robbins made 160 times …

  23. I'd respectfully like to request that Cisco stop maintaining a corporate PAC. I feel it conflicts with the above stated corporate values committing to LGBTQ equality, and would like Cisco to stop funding political campaigns of anti-LGBTQ politicians by allowing a PAC with the Cisco name to contribute to political fundraising.

    The contributions can easily be tracked using the FEC website:

    The FEC site shows, for example, that Cisco donated to the Big Sky Corporate PAC. The Big Sky Corporate PAC donates to Cathy McMorris, Ted Cruz, Marsha Blackburn, John Barrasso, Roger Wicker, and many others who have voted against LGBTQ equality, anti-discrimination, and safety measures, as recorded by the Human Rights Campaign here:

    The Cisco PAC has also donated directly to the Scalise Leadership Fund and the McConnell Senate Committee; Scalise and McConnell are similarly anti-same-sex marriage and have voted against LGBTQ equality legislation.

    I understand that Cisco contributes to many political campaigns and that there are a broad range of recipients all across the political spectrum. I agree that Cisco needs to work with legislators to achieve a lot of our goals. I do not think that we need a PAC in order to do so.


  24. Inclusion for ALL! Once again so proud to work for Cisco!

  25. Great read, well said! Leading by example, positive steps for more to hopefully follow.

  26. Really appreciate you sharing this news Charlie, I'm really proud that Cisco is at the forefront of this issue.

  27. Cisco's commitment to diversity for is inspiring. Glad to be a part of it, and see how serious Cisco takes this topic! #ALLpeople#weareCisco

    • Important that people and the companies that employ them speak out on this important issue.

  28. I am honored to join together in solidarity with my Cisco family to ensure every precious being can exercise the right to be who they are and be equally protected under law. Thanks for this blog, Charlie. #CiscoMomentsThatMatter

  29. Inspiring reading to start the day! Great blog Charlie….proud to be part of this Cisco!

  30. So proud AGAIN to be part of Cisco – always doing the right thing #takedifferencetoheart

  31. Glad to see our company supporting inclusion

  32. Delighted that Cisco is maintaining its focus on Inclusion and Diversity and social justice.

  33. Great article Charlie and delighted to see the clear and strong stand that Cisco is taking. It’s a breath of fresh air when our divisions are in danger of being exploited. Courageous and connected organisations will make the difference!

  34. #BuildingBridges – It makes me so proud to work for a company that is about fairness and equity for ALL. Thank you Charlie!

  35. Well said Charlie. Thanks for sharing this news and I'm really proud that Cisco is at the forefront of this issue.

  36. Thank you Cisco.
    "Leaders are people who do the right thing".

  37. Equality for all! I am so proud we are taking a stand, and getting louder on such a core value for us as a company and our humanity.

  38. Way to go, Cisco! Keep up the good work where it comes to standing up for making the world a better place for everyone.

  39. Great message! Proud to work for such a supportive and inclusive company.

  40. Well said Charlie. We stand with you and Cisco’s core values.

  41. Awesome! So proud to be part of Cisco.

  42. Now, more than ever, it's important to take a stand and make our voice heard! I'm proud to say "I work for Cisco"!

  43. Each and every single day this company gives me yet another reason to absolutely…positively…without question…LOVE where I work! Way to go, Cisco!!!

  44. Thank you for taking a public stand and doing what is right!!

  45. Excellent news! THANK YOU!