News Release

Cisco Systems Continues Its Leadership in Corporate Social Responsibility

Social and environmental citizenship are a part of Cisco's business strategy
Oct 30, 2006

October 30, 2006

By Jenny Carless, News@Cisco

It used to be that companies were measured almost exclusively by their financial health. Today, however, shifts in public expectations mean that businesses are held to higher standards. While they must still meet shareholders' expectations, they are also expected to play a larger role as good corporate citizens - to have a more positive impact in an increasingly global world. By taking on the challenges - and opportunities - of being a good global citizen, leaders of the business world are not only ensuring the sustainability of their own organizations but emerging as leaders in global issues such as climate change and environmental degradation.

Cisco Systems has long been a believer in the benefits - social and financial - of strong corporate citizenship.

"Social responsibility and profitability are far from being mutually exclusive. In fact, being a good global citizen is not only a part of Cisco's core values, it's part of our business strategy," explains President and CEO John Chambers. "We consider corporate social responsibility to be an important factor in Cisco's continuing success."

"Corporate citizenship at Cisco is about how we align our values, behavior and culture with the expectations and needs of all stakeholders," adds Tae Yoo, vice president of Corporate Affairs. "Through a series of strong programs and company-wide commitment, we are able to deliver tangible benefits to our investors as well as the society and the world we all share."

Cisco has many ongoing initiatives in this arena - from creating more sustainable manufacturing processes and products to safeguarding employee well-being and then reaching beyond its employee population to invest in socio-economic programs that help create safer and healthier communities.

Creating Better Products

Raw materials, energy and clean water are all necessary to run a business; but with careful planning, a company's impact on these can be reduced significantly. With this in mind, Cisco is designing technology and equipment to reduce its reliance on environmental resources and services.

Not only is energy efficiency a priority in the company's design process, but Cisco continues to reduce electronic waste by extending product life and expanding take-back and recycling programs to make it easier for customers to return equipment for reuse and recycling. Additional focus areas include helping to develop industry standards, product end-of-life management, design for upgradeability, and improving compliance programs.

Taking Care of Employees

Cisco is committed to employee welfare and helping families in need. By striving to provide an environment that helps employees balance work and family responsibilities while staying healthy, Cisco is able to meet two key objectives: keeping employees healthy and reducing the cost of medical claims.

As part of its efforts, the company continues to improve the way that healthcare is delivered to employees and their families. For example, in October 2005, Cisco began HealthConnections, a program that combines traditional health benefits with secure, confidential access to health enhancement tools. It provides an integrated network of healthcare providers, disability management, workplace resources, food services, fitness centers and other resources.

Some of the programs Cisco currently offers include:

  • Personal Health Manager - a service offered in partnership with WebMD in which employees can identify health risks, evaluate their current health condition and get personalized health improvement plans for themselves and their families
  • HealthConnections Live - a quarterly CiscoTV Webcast in which Dr. Pamela Hymel, Cisco's global medical director of Integrated Health, engages health experts to discuss topics of interest to employees and their families

In FY2007, the company will introduce personal health coaching; access to a 24-hour nurse line to get immediate answers to health questions; and programs for specific health concerns like depression, cancer, asthma and back pain. The company will also begin the "Getting Back to Work" program, an integrated disability management program that streamlines the disability process.

Contributing to Safer and Healthier Communities

At Cisco, addressing social responsibility means looking beyond the company's technology and employees to address both social and environmental change on a global scale.

On the environmental front, John Chambers announced significant efforts to reduce carbon emissions at the Clinton Global Initiative in September 2006. The company is also continuously exploring the use of advanced energy-management techniques to reduce the energy consumption of equipment in its laboratories. As examples:

  • Cisco has initiated an automated power management system to control energy consumption in testing laboratories.
  • It is also partnering with the U.S. Department of Energy's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory to research technologies that could significantly reduce energy demands as well as improve reliability and lengthen equipment life in data centers.

Achieving safer and healthier communities also means addressing social change. Here, again, Cisco is taking a leadership role. Because the electronics manufacturing supply chain extends worldwide and into jurisdictions where the breadth, depth and enforcement of social and environmental regulations vary, Cisco is working with its global suppliers to raise social and environmental standards everywhere.

People Helping People

At Cisco, social responsibility is a grassroots effort rather than a top-down directive. Employees play an important role in driving and managing Cisco's citizenship efforts - through its Stewardship Council, for example. This cross-functional team focuses on integrating environmental, accessibility and social accountability throughout Cisco operations and culture.

"As in so many aspects of our business, Cisco's strength is in its employees," says Yoo. "With strong policies and the support of our employees, Cisco will continue to take on the challenges as well as the opportunities of corporate sustainability."

Jenny Carless is a freelance writer based in Santa Cruz, CA.