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When the world’s Internet relies on you, responsibility comes on many levels

- December 15, 2017 4:20 pm

Technology is changing the world around us. It has an impact on every area of our lives, and we have a responsibility to make sure that is for the better. It’s one thing to talk about corporate social responsibility, but it truly is another to commit to being a responsible business.

We are incredibly proud of the role that we play in helping to build the UK’s digital future. To be entrusted to enable 80% of the world’s internet, and as an employer and partner to businesses throughout the UK and Ireland is not something that we take lightly. With it comes an opportunity to do great things.

Our global Corporate Social Responsibility programmes continue to play a key role in solving challenges around the world, but as we publish our annual CSR report, I also wanted to share some insight into what we do specific to the UK and why we believe it matters.

For us, it is about doing more than just ensuring the work we do has a positive impact. It involves considering the impact and influence our organisation has outside of this too.

With our partners, government and academia we collaborate to help solve some of the biggest challenges facing the nation; whether through our commitment to helping the UK digitise, which in the last year has materialised in initiatives to connect road and rail experiences, helping show how we can limit the devastating impact of flooding with technology and tackling security challenges in critical national infrastructure – we are partnering to solve real world problems, today.

Beyond the choices that we make as an organisation, our people are what makes us. We employ thousands of people in the UK, with more than 4,000 partner organisations. As the headquarters for Cisco Europe, Middle East, Africa and Russia, in the UK we have over forty different areas of Cisco’s business represented and it’s fair to say, quite a diverse organisation.

These are all people with their own individual lives, wants and needs. We take huge pride in the fact that they consider Cisco a great place to work – and we’re proud, too, of the initiatives we put in place to help them be their best selves at home and at work.

Whether through one of our seven employee resource organisations – including support groups such as Cisco Pride, Early in Career, or the Ex-Forces network – or Supporting Minds, our dedicated network of over 40 mental health first aiders, we put our people first.

We’re always working towards developing a more inclusive workforce. Initiatives such as the 30% Club are key to proving the (obvious) value of greater diversity in the workplace. Our own Girls In ICT and work experience programmes are just a couple of the ways that we’re effecting these changes.

But just as CSR extends beyond the work we do as an organisation, our people are doing amazing things outside of the workplace too.

More than a third of our employees in the UK and Ireland have taken advantage of our Time2Give programme in the last year. This allows them five days a year to contribute to causes they feel passionately about.

That amounted to Cisco people volunteering almost 3,500 days over the past twelve months – a 300% increase since we first introduced the programme in 2016. The initiative has seen people give their time to causes as wide-ranging as teaching IT skills in local communities, working with the RNLI, volunteering as a Samaritan, and contributing to water projects out in Malawi.

Our responsibility doesn’t end at the doors to our buildings either. What we do as a business is pervasive, the network underpins our digital economy and as a business in the UK, we have an opportunity, and I believe a responsibility, to help people in the UK beyond our workforce.

One way in which we have sought to do so is through our focus on the development of digital skills. In October, we committed to helping improve the digital skills of a quarter of a million more people in Britain by 2020. The launch of our Skills Manifesto celebrated the 20th anniversary of our global Cisco Networking Academy, which since its launch has helped more than 240,000 people in the UK improve their skillsets.

We’ve also been recognised as an ‘Outstanding STEM Large Employer’ and continue to work with all levels of education, and the community – from our announced initiatives with Libraries and The Open University, to our involvement in the CyberFirst programme and the Welsh National Cyber Security Academy announced earlier this year, each initiative is a reflection of our commitment to investing in the next generation and ensuring that we have the skills and resources to support new technology and drive innovation.

In fact, reading over the latest report into everything Cisco is doing in CSR has only made me feel prouder – not only of the work we do here every day, but of all the people who really make it happen.

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