December 10 marked the 75th anniversary of the United Nations’ adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), a landmark document that for the first time recognized human rights and freedoms are inherent to all individuals, regardless of nationality, ethnicity, religion, or any other status. For Cisco, as we work to securely connect everything to make anything possible, this anniversary is an opportunity to reflect on the intersection between technology and human rights.

Since our inception nearly 40 years ago, Cisco technology has helped customers and partners make infrastructure stronger, financial services more secure, transportation safer, and first responders faster. But even as technology creates unmatched opportunity and potential for society, we recognize the inherent risk of technology being misused. Navigating this balance – securely connecting billions of people while respecting human rights – is core to who we are at Cisco.

We believe it’s incumbent on us to integrate respect for human rights into our operations, policies, and decision-making processes – and importantly – adapt our approach in alignment with the changing technology landscape. Here are just some examples of the way Cisco has evolved to address the considerations we face in the digital age.

Cisco’s Global Human Rights Policy was first adopted in 2012 and is updated on an annual basis. The policy publicly states Cisco’s commitment to respect all internationally recognized human rights articulated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), and the eight core International Labour Organization (ILO) conventions.

In 2018, we shared our Human Rights Position Statements documenting Cisco’s point of view on encryption, data localization and sovereignty, surveillance by governments, internet of things, big data analytics, and artificial intelligence. We also built our Business & Human Rights team, responsible for setting Cisco’s human rights strategy and embedding human rights due diligence to address potential impacts to human rights at all stages of our value chain.

In 2020, we created our Human Rights Advisory Committee, a cross-functional group of senior leaders across Cisco’s business that advises the BHR team on issues related to Cisco’s support of and respect for human rights. The Human Rights Advisory Committee meets on a quarterly basis to discuss emerging human rights risks and opportunities and Cisco’s work to address them.

We also engage with suppliers globally to drive conformance to our human rights policies. As a founding member of the Responsible Business Alliance (RBA), Cisco adopted the RBA Code of Conduct as its Supplier Code of Conduct. This Code sets standards for labor, health and safety, environment, ethics, and management systems. This past year, our audits covered the working conditions of more than 446,000 workers, and our programs helped give workers a voice on health and safety, bonded labor, and responsible mining.

In 2023, we introduced a new Environmental, Social, and Public Policy Committee of our Board of Directors. Part of the Committee’s duty is to strategize and govern our approach to human rights, reflecting the increasing importance of and attention to these issues at the highest levels of our company.

We believe transparency around our commitments to respecting human rights is arguably just as important as the policies, frameworks, and guidelines we’ve put in place. Being transparent not only gives our customers and workforce the confidence to trust us, but it also helps us to continually learn and improve.

So, as we recognize the anniversary of UNDHR, I’m pleased to share both our FY2023 Cisco Purpose Report and Cisco ESG Reporting Hub – highlighting Cisco’s ongoing approach to respecting human rights as we work to power a more inclusive future for all.

Cisco 2023 Purpose Report: The Power of Purpose

ESG Reporting Hub



Dev Stahlkopf

Executive Vice President

Chief Legal Officer