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How Cisco’s flexible working culture is driving inclusion and employee engagement


September 21, 2016


As I approach my 20th anniversary of working at Cisco, I have been reflecting on how the culture here contributes to work being something that I do (and enjoy!), rather than a place that I go to 5 days-a-week.

As a young company, Cisco created a culture of empowerment for its employees, which today encourages us to do the right thing for the business – but also for ourselves.  An element of this is about personal development and internal ‘stretch assignments’, but also it’s about ensuring that we, as employees, are able to bring full value to our work and be happy and fulfilled outside of work.

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Striving to go further

Over the past year at Cisco, we’ve been working hard to ensure that our people-centric culture is ensuring that we are as inclusive as possible, and attractive to a diverse range of talent.  We set ourselves the audacious goal of reaching the National Equality Standard (NES). This involved a deep inspection of our policies and practices, independently conducted by Ernst and Young (E&Y).  The E&Y team identified a majority of strengths, as well as a few areas for improvement. From this feedback, Cisco UK&I created a cross-functional Inclusive Leadership Team and built a plan.

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The plan leverages work by our Employee Organisations around gender, generation, disability, sexual orientation and ethnicity. Just 6 months on, we are already seeing tangible results and recognition for the hard work that this team and the wider community of Inclusion and Collaboration (I&C) ambassadors have put in.

Supporting our talent

As we travel through our working lives, the demands upon us shift and change as life throws out a variety of challenges. Whether it’s parenthood, caring for elderly family members, or simply being at home to receive a delivery – the flexibility afforded by Cisco to its employees allows us to make the choices of where and when we work. As a Cisco employee it’s sometimes easy to take this flexibility for granted, but in my role as the lead for Inclusion at Cisco UK&I, I’ve seen the full scope of what our working culture means to employees’ lives.

Whether supporting colleagues juggling childcare or eldercare responsibilities, recovering from physical or mental illness, sickness or injury: the ability to work flexibly has still allowed them to continue to deliver their knowledge and expertise in their jobs. The bottom line is that Cisco’s flexible working practices drive employee engagement and loyalty, whilst ultimately allowing us to retain and develop talent – rather than let it slip away.

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Setting the standard

What we may take for granted here at Cisco, is being recognised as world-leading outside of Cisco: winning the ‘Best Flexible Working initiative’ award at the Top Employers for Working Families and Glassdoor reporting that Cisco is the 2nd best company in the UK for work-life balance.

On top of this, Cisco has now also become the first tech company in the UK to achieve the National Equality Standard! You can read more about how we achieved it in the blog by our UK&I Chairman, Phil Smith.

There’s never been a better time to set the standard for inclusion and collaboration. At Cisco UK&I, this goes way beyond an HR program: it’s embedded into our culture. It’s this culture that gives Cisco the edge – an edge that drives our innovation and helps propel us towards being the greatest IT company in the world.

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