Cisco Systems, more commonly referred to as “Cisco,” is a tech-industry giant. Put simply, they build the hardware and write the code that makes cloud computing a reality. There’s a high chance your business relies on Cisco in some capacity, whether it be for your Wi-Fi, firewalls, communications, or data analytics.
As important as it is to their business, Cisco’s head isn’t in the clouds. In fact, this multibillion-dollar company from Silicon Valley is redefining what it means to be sustainable by using policies that are, well, down-to-earth.
A Global Mission
Cisco has adopted a philosophy of corporate social responsibility (CSR). This means the company places ethical and philanthropic responsibilities at the center of their business strategy. As Cisco puts it, “We empower social-change agents with technology and expertise. Our goal: Accelerate global problem-solving to benefit people, society, and the planet.”
Okay, sounds great. Many companies have lofty-sounding goals that play up the good they do in the world. But Cisco has fully committed to CSR, doing far more than simply donating to charity and having photo ops. They’ve begun a comprehensive campaign to use their systems and skills to contribute to a greener planet.
Actions, Not Words
It’s one thing to say your company will benefit the planet. It’s another thing to earn the title of Most Sustainable Company in the United States, awarded by Barron Magazine. It takes a big-picture approach for a conglomerate as large as Cisco to be so environmentally friendly.
That’s why this tech giant has committed to aggressively reduce their greenhouse emissions. Renewable energy already accounts for 80 percent of the company’s worldwide electricity use, and they are on track to cut 1 million tons of greenhouse gases from their supply chain in less than two years. This is a company that practices what it preaches.
From Routers to Rhinos
Part of Cisco’s environmental initiative is to protect one of the oldest species to still roam the earth: South African rhinos. Due to extensive poaching, it is estimated that these endangered animals will be extinct by 2025. Rather than donate money and pose with a big check, Cisco cut out the middleman and went to work doing what they do best: building technology to solve problems.
Poaching the Poachers
Partnering with Dimension Data, Cisco put a new spin on “data security.” Together, the tech companies built a sophisticated network of drones, seismic sensors, thermal cameras, and biometric scanners to turn the tables on poachers. Since the project began, poaching has been cut by 96 percent according to the Pretoria reserve in South Africa.
There are plenty of species at risk of poaching today, and Cisco has no intention of stopping with rhinos. In fact, this project was the first step of a larger effort the company has named “Connected Conservation.” They are in the process of scaling their efforts to protect elephants and many wildlife preserves.
No one is going to come out and ask, “Why is this company saving animals?” But even the least cynical entrepreneur will go through the cost-benefit analysis of why a tech company would commit so much time and money to nature. To understand just how savvy Cisco is being, you have to view their efforts as long-term investments in the world we share.
No World, No Market
When Cisco committed to CSR, it wasn’t out of pure philanthropic goodwill. Even their own marketing department is straightforward that the IT giant has something to gain from environmental efforts. As a company, Cisco embraces the idea that a healthy planet and healthy global market is good for business.
Cisco is part of a breed of new companies that recognize corporations are not separated from the larger ecosystem. Climate, biodiversity, and socioeconomics affect the global economy. Rather than simply responding to these titanic forces, Cisco has opted to play a proactive role in protecting the world they do business in.
Your business may not have the resources and manpower of a global conglomerate like Cisco. But the way they approach issues they are passionate about is the perfect model for any company aspiring to do more. Rather than write a check to an NGO or wildlife fund, they took action using the resources their company already had. In doing so, Cisco set themselves apart as global leaders in the IT world and in corporate responsibility.
So, next time you are faced with a communal or even a global issue, don’t leave it as someone else’s responsibility. Instead, find a way you and your team can contribute to finding solutions and making the world a better place.