Fortune Magazine Lists Cisco Systems as One of the Best Places to Work
Company Makes List for Eighth Straight Year
January 14, 2005
By G. Patrick Pawling, News@Cisco
Once again, Cisco Systems has landed high on Fortune magazine's annual "best places to work" list. This time the company is ranked #4 among large companies - those with more than 10,000 employees. Fortune applauded Cisco's efforts to make the workplace fun, mentioning the nearly famous "nerd lunches" (technology-talk lunches) and the movie-themed food available in some cafeterias on Oscar day.
Cisco, #27 on the overall Fortune list, has now made the elite ranking eight straight years. That's no accident. Company officials say that enriching the work - and non-work - experience of employees is a core commitment.
"Cisco is proud to be recognized by Fortune Magazine for the eighth consecutive year as one of the 100 Best Companies to Work For," says Kate DCamp, senior vice president, human resources. "We strive to create a culture of open communication with employees so that we can create programs and services that will meet the needs of our diverse work force and increase employees' commitment to Cisco."
The much sought-after Fortune list is based on an evaluation of the policies and culture of each company and the opinions of the company's employees. Two-thirds of the score comes from employee responses to a 57-question survey going to a minimum of 350 randomly selected employees from each company. The survey asks about things such as attitudes towards management, job satisfaction and camaraderie. The remaining score is based on an evaluation of each company's demographic makeup, pay and benefits programs and culture. Companies are scored for credibility (communication to employees); respect (opportunities and benefits); fairness (compensation, diversity); and pride/camaraderie (philanthropy, celebrations).
While Fortune cited Cisco's "fun" aspects such as catered family movie nights on the lawn in San Jose, the company's culture of enrichment and support goes much deeper.
All new employees get an initial stock option grant and all employees are eligible for ongoing grants. Employees may also buy shares for 15 percent less than market price, through the Employee Stock Purchase Program. The company's health insurance covers long-term care. It has four fitness centers in the U.S. and Canada and in some locations it offers on-site mammograms and body fat analysis screenings. There are also on-site programs such as Weight Watchers, along with personal trainers, massage therapists, cooking classes and seminars on financial planning and ergonomics.
Cisco allows for flexible schedules and paid time off. Women get up to 28 weeks of maternity leave. On-site child-care programs extend to kindergarten, and available children's classes include music, dance, gymnastics and Berlitz language instruction. Parents also have the advantage of looking in on their kids during the day via Internet TV - just one more example of how Cisco makes good use of its own leading-edge technology. Cisco's campuses, for example, are wireless throughout, with employees often taking their laptops to meetings or lunch. This gives employees mobility and flexibility - even if they simply want to work outside on a nice sunny afternoon.
The company often runs forums in which any employee can ask real questions of executives, including CEO John Chambers. Similarly, every employee is expected to be a leader, and to that end Cisco offers multiple initiatives, including the Cisco Leadership Series - week-long sessions with instructors from top global business schools.
Cisco also offers an Employee Discount Program providing access to hundreds of top-tier retailers - online, in-store, and via catalogues. More than half of Cisco's employees use the program every month.
The company also puts out a quarterly "Work/Life" newsletter covering issues such as childcare, living with teenagers and caring for aging parents. Employees appreciate the personal touches. Employees who call to request childcare information receive books - What to Expect When You're Expecting, for example.
These are some of the many programs that make Cisco Systems a unique work environment - and have kept Cisco on Fortune's elite list of being one of the best places to work.
Pat Pawling is a freelance journalist located in Ocean City, NJ.
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