Harish Krishnan, MD, Cisco Systems India & SAARC Co-Founder Public Affairs Forum of India, speaks to us about the sustainability drive and CSR activities of Cisco
What is the CSR strategy of Cisco?
In the last few years, we have seen technology do amazing things, transformed experiences and improved the lives of millions. But, even with this progress and prosperity, we still have many pressing challenges that need to be addressed around the environment, economic inequality, access to healthcare, education, etc. For instance, in India, the ILO estimates that nearly 400 million informal workers are at risk of falling deeper into poverty. In the healthcare sector, only 11 in 28 states meet the WHO recommendation of a 1:1000 doctor to population ratio. Cisco has long understood that social responsibility must be an integrated piece of our overall business strategy and that there is a clear connection between a healthy business and a healthy community.
Therefore, our CSR strategy is rooted in enabling an inclusive future, where technology gives everyone the tools to thrive and creates a better world for all. We use the power of our technology and the expertise of our employees to accelerate global problem solving and advance social and environmental benefits. We enable this through strategic programs and partnerships in education, critical human needs, and economic empowerment.
Out of the CSR activities list, what activities has Cisco engaged in the most in recent times?
During the pandemic, supporting our communities and helping them recuperate has been a top focus area for Cisco. At the onset of the pandemic, we focused on immediate response and relief, including the provision of PPE kits. Subsequently, we have focused our investments on building resilience within communities.
For instance, to avoid gaps in students education in India, we have partnered with the government to enable access to our Network Academy programs online through a government-run portal. Over 15,000 classes have been registered on the portal, and over 100 faculty members have been trained in India and first-ever training programme through Webex. Through our solutions, over 5,000 hours of lectures were delivered across the top 40+ institutes in India in April.
Does Cisco implement the ideology of social responsibility in its day to day work culture?
We believe that doing good starts with our people. We continue to transform our culture – driving diversity and inclusion throughout our organization and implementing sustainable business practices to reduce our environmental impact. We also encourage and accelerate our employees’ passion for doing good in the world by providing time off to volunteer and a matching donations programme. And we see their passion for making a difference every day. In FY19, we achieved 80% community impact participation, as measured by employees’ actions, including advocating for causes they care deeply about, volunteering, donating, and participating in programs that positively impact communities. Moreover, 51% of employees donated or volunteered in the same year.
What is Cisco’s contribution towards sustainable living?
For the last 25 years that Cisco has been in India, sustainability and inclusion have been at the heart of everything we do, and not an afterthought. Our Bengaluru campus – home to over 11,000 Cisco employees and Cisco’s largest presence outside of our San Jose headquarters – is primarily powered by renewable sources. 80% of power is derived from sustainable and renewable sources.
Within Cisco, we have set several targets to reduce our impact on the environment. 80% of Cisco’s component, manufacturing, and logistics suppliers by spend will have a public, absolute GHG emissions reduction target by FY25, and 70% will achieve a zero waste diversion rate at one or more sites by then. With FY19 as the base year, we aim to reduce Cisco’s supply chain-related Scope 3 GHG emissions by 30% absolute by FY30, decrease the use of virgin plastics by 20%, and reduce all foam used in product packaging by 75% measured by weight by FY25, and design all new products using circular design principles by FY25.
85% of our workforce also had the option to work from home even before COVID, which allowed us to consolidate real estate and reduce our carbon footprint significantly. In the same vein, we are now enabling many of our customers to keep their workforces at least partly remote even after the crisis. We have shared our processes and learnings with several customers, and many are moving to remote working. When this workforce distribution happens at scale, it will eventually lead to balanced economic growth across the nation and reduce the burden on our cities, making them more liveable and sustainable.