Cisco Systems: The Bridge to Possible

by Savoy Staff

By Shari Slate, Vice President, Inclusive Future & Strategy, Chief Inclusion & Collaboration Officer, Cisco

Global pandemic.  Economic instability.  Political turmoil. Social justice crises. There is no doubt we are living in a time of unprecedented events and unimaginable tragedies.

From the perspective of social equality and justice, what we’ve collectively experienced in the past year is shining a spotlight on undeniable truths about the size of the gap between aspiration and achievement.  Injustice and inequality are pandemics too.

Yet history teaches us that from crisis can come opportunity. If we are willing to face these undeniable truths, we can create a turning point.

We can use what our organizations have learned in experiencing the unprecedented to gain proximity and new insight into the true nature of our challenges. We can drive new levels of equality and inclusion within our organizations by expanding our commitment to the communities beyond them. We can connect longstanding challenges with new possibilities for overcoming them. Usher in a future of fairness. And take bold, deliberate action whenever – and wherever – we see injustice and inequality.

Between a future for some and a future for all, there’s a bridge.  We can build it.

How do we start?  By understanding what’s at stake, the stand we will take, and the impact we will drive.  For Cisco, what’s at stake is an inclusive future for all.  Over the years, we’ve taken a bold stand to help protect the equal rights, safety, and dignity of our people and our communities around the world.  In the fall of 2020, we publicly unveiled Cisco’s Social Justice Beliefs and Our Commitment to Action.

Our stand is clear: Technology for Good; Commitment to Justice; Addressing Insecurity of Being; Culture of Coalescence; and Curiosity, Proximity and Empathy. These beliefs are constant, serving as an ever-present inspiration for our team and for Cisco globally.

We’ve spent years preparing for this moment – this turning point.  We choose to share our beliefs as an invitation to all who want to transform our companies, our communities, and our world. An invitation to join us. Create a movement.  Be the change. Build the bridge. For now – and for countless generations to come.

We’ve already taken bold steps – like postponing our global customer and partner event Cisco Live to prioritize our collective need for space and healing in the face of the horrific murders of Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, and Ahmaud Arbery, among others.

We’re ready to build on what we’ve learned from unprecedented events – starting with our commitment to the Black Community. The lack of attention to the Black experience has galvanized us to lead needed change. Cisco’s actions for the Black community will serve as a blueprint for future expansion, allowing us to replicate and scale for everyone across the full spectrum of diversity. The impact we create and the lessons we learn will allow us to expand our impact for all.

Imagine what’s possible if organizations of all sizes leveraged the power of proximity to engage closely with those most impacted by injustice and inequality. If we work together to dig deep and uncover all the insidious ways the problem exists – and persists.  If we share our commitments, our beliefs, our strategies, and our actions.

Imagine what’s possible.

What next? We keep digging deep and connecting longstanding challenges with new possibilities.  We transform this turning point into opportunities to accelerate our progress.  We keep bending the arc of the universe towards justice. Towards equality. Towards inclusion.

Between a future for some and a future for all, there’s a bridge. We can build it.


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