This week, Cisco Systems released their 9th Annual Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Report. The comprehensive 160-page report is divided into five major sections: Governance and Ethics, Supply Chain, People, Society, and Environment. This is a broad sweep, and as CEO John Chambers says in his opening remarks, “Our focus on creating value for society, the environment and our business is reflected in the breadth of our commitments: from investing in our employees to improving labor standards in our supply chain, and from improving healthcare to reducing our environmental footprint. These are all multi-year efforts that require a long-term view to achieve positive outcomes.”
In the governance and ethics section, the company conducted five stakeholder sessions around the world to get feedback on environmental, social and supply chain issues. The company reported that they have met all of their objectives in this section including: employee certifications for code of business conduct, human rights training, and deepening engagement with socially responsible investors.
They also were recognized by the Carbon Disclosure Project, Dow Jones Sustainability Index, and the Global 100 for their CSR achievements.
In the supply chain arena, they played an active role in setting and raising standards in the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) industry through initiatives like the Electronic Industry Citizenship Coalition (EICC). Like many companies, Cisco has focused on data collection and reporting, but Pam Muckosy of Impactt, who participated in a stakeholder engagement session, felt that the company could do more to engage on this issues and their root causes. The company has mostly done an excellent job getting its suppliers to provide information. A full 100 percent responded to a sustainability survey and completed web-based sustainability training, while 77 percent reported GHG emissions to the CDP, though only 45 percent have set GHG emission targets.
On the people side, meaning employees, Cisco was ranked 42nd on the Fortune 100 list of best companies to work for. Eighty-six percent of employees felt that their teams value diversity. And 89 percent are proud to work at a company where 23,500 employees participated online in their annual meeting.
Society has been a particularly strong sector for Cisco, which has become fully engaged through the Internet of Everything. They have taken a full court systems approach, looking for opportunities everywhere to make life better by making connections. This sentiment was echoed by Simona Haiduc, a stakeholder with Opportunity International, who said, “Cisco’s philosophy for social investments matches our approach to development, to create long-term solutions that are embedded in local communities and are there to stay for the long run.”
The same can be said in the environmental arena. The company did well internally, meeting the 2012 emission reduction targets of 25 percent (Scope 1 & 2) and achieving a 28 percent drop from the 2007 baseline, investing in renewables and efficiency. They also cut packaging by 634 metric tons and received 12,539 metric tons of products returned for recycling and reuse. The company also utilized their own tele-presence capabilities to dramatically reduce business travel-related emissions, which are in Scope 3, by 25 percent.
But it is with their customers that they will likely have the biggest environmental impact. Having just announced their acquisition of Joulex, and incorporated their toolset into their own EnergyWise software suite, they are now in a position to help their customers, particularly those in the IT world, make dramatic cuts (50 percent is not unusual) by using this software that can detect, monitor and control all devices connected to the network from an energy consumption perspective. Many enterprises large and small have no idea how many devices they have turned on, never mind how much energy they consume.
To summarize, the words of Tae Yoo, Senior VP of Corporate Affairs capture Cisco’s stance quite well.
In the age of the Internet of Everything, networked connections are more valuable and relevant than ever before. This applies to networked technology, but also to the people who collaborate to develop innovative solutions to the world’s most pressing problems. Our CSR approach is to help create positive impact around the world by using our expertise, technology and partnerships. Being socially and environmentally responsible is not only good for people and the planet, but essential to the long-term sustainability of our business.”