Cisco Purpose Report: Measuring and Reporting Impact Along Our Purpose Journey

By Tae Yoo
Dec 14, 2021 8:15 AM ET
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With the calendar year coming to a close, it’s time for us to once again report our annual efforts to positively impact people and the planet. This work has been described as corporate citizenship, corporate social responsibility (CSR), environmental-social-governance (ESG), or social impact over the years, but all of it has been grounded in creating impact as part of our larger purpose to Power an Inclusive Future for All. As such, this year — and for the first time — we are publishing our 2021 Cisco Purpose Report, bringing together our traditional CSR Report and the purpose work we’re operationalizing across the company.

Reporting on this work only tells part of our story. The other part — the most important part — is sharing the impact, the outcomes, of that work. Why do outcomes matter so much to us? Outcomes are an indicator of actual impact or change. For example, donating or distributing mosquito nets doesn’t necessarily mean there will be a reduction of instances of malaria (outcome); the malaria nets may never be used.

With that said, measuring impact isn’t just a tick-the-box exercise for Cisco. We’ve been creating and measuring the outcomes of our ESG programs on a global scale for decades. By setting clear goals, measuring our progress, and transparently reporting our impact (which we’ve been doing annually since publishing our first Corporate Citizenship Report in 2005), we’re able to provide an account of the difference we’re making each year and how we plan to learn from our outcomes. This allows us to prove and improve — to identify areas of strength or weakness, opportunity or risk. Doing so is integral to our purpose work and a key part of being a responsible corporate citizen.

Our approach in action

A prime example is our 2016 goal to positively impact one billion people by 2025 through our social impact grants to nonprofits like Kiva and signature programs like Cisco Networking Academy. It’s paramount that we understand the impact these investments are having — whether it’s enabling someone to get a new job; improving a person’s proficiency in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM); or helping a family find a permanent place to live. In addition to quantifying the effectiveness and impact of our programs, we take it a step further by obtaining third party limited assurance of our progress against this goal. This validates the data we’ve collected related to Cisco attribution, positive impact, and number of individuals reached.

Our companywide focus on addressing climate change, started in 2006, has now developed into an overarching strategy that moves us closer to a regenerative and sustainable world. This is accompanied by public goals for our most significant environmental issues — backed by internal audits, and in certain instances, receiving limited assurance by a third party.

What we made possible in 2021

After setting our first GHG emissions reduction goal in 2006, we have set other goals to engage employees, reduce environmental impacts across our entire value chain, and benefit communities. Here is just some of the progress we made this past year:

  • 60% reduction in global Scope 1 and 2 GHG emissions compared to FY07 base year (met our FY22 goal of reducing by 60% one year early)
  • 85% of energy came from renewable sources (met our FY22 goal of 85% one year early)
  • 93% of circular design training completed by prioritized teams within Cisco’s design community, including our supply chain and engineering teams
  • $477 million in cash and in-kind contributions to community programs by Cisco and the Cisco Foundation (equivalent to 3.6% of pre-tax profit)
  • 680 million people positively impacted through our social impact grants and signature programs (68% of our 1 billion by 2025 goal)
  • 3 million students participated in Cisco Networking Academy (our greatest annual participation yet), bringing the total to 15 million students since 1997
  • $1 million in cash prizes awarded to social entrepreneurs through the 5th annual Cisco Global Problem Solver Challenge (a total of $2.25 million USD to 63 start-ups in 20 countries since 2016)
  • 269,000 employee volunteer hours and $34 million in employee donations and Cisco Foundation matching gifts

We will continue to approach new goals, like our recent net zero goal, with the same focus on transparent reporting and rigorous measurement that we have followed since we first began publicly reporting our performance on ESG topics over fifteen years ago.

Our commitment to impact

Together with our employees and partners in the public and nonprofit sectors, we are proud of the progress and impact we’ve made. At the same time, we understand there is much more work to do. Our annual Purpose Report will help hold us accountable to this work and to our stakeholders and society. We will also use it as motivation to push ourselves even harder to ensure our efforts are delivering the utmost value and resulting in deep, inclusive, and sustainable impact around the world.

Visit the ESG Hub and read our Purpose Report to learn more about the progress we’re making toward each of our goals.