Cisco Blogs

The Future of Fairness

April 4, 2017 - 15 Comments

If you’ve tuned into some of the latest headlines within our industry – from the push for pay equity to the call for higher levels of diversity – you may have noticed a common theme. Fairness.

There’s a shift occurring in the dialogue – and action – around driving fairness. And Cisco is making the shift. We’re expanding how we think about fairness and leading a new dialogue on the possibilities we can create in this era of digital transformation – for Cisco, our people, our partners, and our customers.

We call this thought leadership dialogue the “Future of Fairness”. Fairness is foundational to how Cisco will connect everything, innovate everywhere, and benefit everyone. And it’s the fuel that kindles trusting relationships, ignites inclusion and the Power of Teams, accelerates participation and collaboration, and drives the evolution of Our People Deal.

The Future of Fairness will take us beyond policies and practices, beyond training, beyond programs and initiatives, and beyond the limits of any function or geography. To create it, we’re developing what we’re calling “transformational intelligence” – actionable new insights that drive breakthroughs in inclusive decision making. Developing transformational intelligence requires an expanded view of relevant data and innovative new ways of analyzing it. The insights we are gaining serve as a missing link in addressing business critical challenges – like testing and validating our complex global compensation environment for pay parity.

At Cisco, pay parity means that our people are paid fairly. We’ve always had policies and practices for fair, competitive, and performance-driven pay. Two years ago, we decided to significantly expand our capabilities to help make sure that our inclusive intentions result in equitable pay decisions. To do that, we developed what we believe is true transformational intelligence, building an innovative analytical framework that enabled us to test our compensation data.

We began our pay parity analysis in the U.S. last year and we’ve now completed testing and review of pay globally, including a second round of analysis in the U.S. Our review was comprehensive – we looked holistically across gender (male and female) plus race and ethnicity in the U.S. (as defined by the U.S. Government). We’re proud of our findings, as they revealed a healthy and equitable compensation system with only minor disparities. A very small number of employees recently received pay adjustments – just over 1 percent globally with adjustments representing less than 0.02% of our global payroll.

Pay parity is an ongoing commitment – not a point-in-time initiative. Where we find gaps – we’ll fix them. That’s the Future of Fairness in action.

Not only are we driving value for our people, we’re also leveraging our innovative approach to take a national leadership role. As a founding signer of the White House Equal Pay Pledge, we’re actively sharing our best practices and advancing pay parity for all workers by participating in the Employers for Pay Equity Consortium. Today marks Equal Pay Day – which is primarily focused on eradicating the gender pay gap. And while we support the cause – we’re also committed to expanding the dialogue. A gap is a gap – and fair is fair – for everyone.

The Future of Fairness doesn’t mean we have all the answers yet. It means that we’re expanding, accelerating, and taking on whatever’s holding us back. It means we’re shifting the dialogue everywhere – from the boardroom to the break room. We’re stepping up. Speaking out. Taking the lead, collaborating, learning, and taking action to drive fairness and create environments in which everyone can thrive.

Are you in? Lending your own unique voice to expand the conversation has never been easier or more crucial. Where is your passion for driving fairness and inclusion at Cisco, in your communities, and across the world? @Cisco #NeverBetter #StandforEqualPay #EqualPayDay


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  1. I LOVE this!

  2. The Future of Fairness
    Is Bright 🙂

  3. Just saw Hidden Figures. Imagine if NASA had adapted such an initiative way back when. We could have been on Mars already.

  4. I deeply appreciate the “Future of Fairness” thought leadership conversation. It is critical for Cisco to model the attainment of equality in all things – for its leaders, employees and customers. The “do the right thing” journey is often bumpy and unscripted, but the knowledge that we, as a company, are making the attempt inspires and motivates me. Why? Because fairness resides at the core of my personal value systems. Its realization will always be worth the effort.

  5. Yes, as an IC I often ask myself how can I personally identify if my work is valued at the level it should be with respect to pay. I echo the request from Lauren Fishburn from a bottoms-up request for “pay-parity status” to use that as a talking point for discussions with management and how they value the work being done within each organization.

    • Thanks for your input too, Tania. In responding to Lauren’s comment, I hope I’ve shed some light on your questions as well.

      I’ve forwarded your comments to our Total Rewards team – we’re in the process of improving our communications around pay parity and it’s always valuable to understand your perceptions and questions.

  6. In these days of divisiveness in the United States, I am so proud to see Cisco continue to display leadership and commitment to diversity and fairness, all with a global mindset. I look forward to seeing how we evolve the discussion.

  7. It’s the right thing to do! Unfortunately, there continues to be salary despair across organizations at Cisco. I’m glad to know that this is a important topic and the dialogue is way over due. I’m honored to be a part of a company that is willing to stand up and make a difference.

    Thank you for listening!

    • Thanks for your comment Michelle! We’re proud to be expanding the dialogue and taking a national leadership role on pay parity and sharing what we’ve learned through our holistic approach. We’re also proud – but not surprised – that our pay parity reviews have revealed a healthy and equitable compensation system, with only minor disparities identified within Cisco’s global employee population.

      We gather feedback on important issues that affect our employees through many sources – including individual input such as your comment to this blog, internal surveys, and external input when we compete for and win designations like the National Association of Female Executives Top Companies, Working Mother Best Companies for Multicultural Women, and scoring 100% on the Human Rights Campaign’s 2016 Corporate Equality Index.

      Cisco regularly reviews the factors that influence our talent environment, from new hire offers to individual rewards, so we can continue to innovate in designing and delivering fair, inclusive, and competitive pay for our people.

      Again – thanks for your feedback. I’ve forwarded your comment to our Total Rewards team as well.

  8. I was recently at PBWC conference in San Francisco, and felt very proud to be part of Cisco and the culture that infuses fairness. Some industries are just starting the conversations now

  9. The approach from top down seems well thought through.

    In the spirit of ‘you won’t get it unless you ask’, it would be awesome as an individual contributor (IC), to be able to submit a request to check your own “pay parity status”. This way ICs could know whether their pay had already been analyzed, on what date, and what the determination is. More of a bottom up style request.

    • Thanks for your comment Lauren. Employees don’t have to ask to be part of pay parity; every employee’s pay has been considered as part of this process. Our analysis validates that any differences in compensation are based on business-relevant factors and there are no disparities across gender (globally) and both gender and ethnicity (in the U.S.). When we find gaps – we fix them. Our analysis is now complete and just over 1 percent of employees globally received necessary adjustments, representing less than 0.02% of our global payroll. Your input is helpful in our ongoing efforts to improve our communications.

      Validating pay parity is one part of Cisco’s larger overarching compensation strategies. The best way to understand the factors influencing your individual compensation is to talk to your manager. Thanks again for your perspective.

  10. Very proud of Cisco for not only evangelizing the “fairness principle”, but also taking action.

  11. Proud to work at a company that makes this a priority and takes the issue seriously. It’s a lot of work w/ lots of twists and turns but it’s the right work. Bravo!

  12. Right On, Cisco! Keep up the good fight and don’t stop. This is a long, complex road and it will take much effort and dedication. Stay on it.