by Francine Katsoudas
Submitted by Cisco Systems, Inc.
We released our annual Purpose Report, which reflects and celebrates the past year’s work towards Powering an Inclusive Future for All—the progress we’ve made against our goals, and the people and lives we’ve touched. The report explores the theme, The Power of Purpose, because we recognize that when we intersect our business, technology, and a network of partners together with our purpose, we create a powerful force for lasting change. And we have some incredible examples from this year, including the announcement that we achieved our goal of positively impacting 1 billion lives, and did so over a year early!
For many years, the purpose of our Purpose Report has been to look back. But we must also look ahead.
Any company looking to successfully execute their business strategy must consider the changing terrain, identify upcoming challenges and trends, and anticipate how to best meet evolving requirements. The same is true for purpose. This year’s Purpose Report begins to explore the landscape, and where we see opportunities for Purpose to grow.
Our biggest challenges are interconnected and interdependent
The past several years brought us all unprecedented challenges, and a world more prone to polarization than before. But instead of binary questions and issues, a more multipolar world has emerged, requiring us to operate with more nuance and greater context than ever. In this context one thing is clear—we are more interconnected and interdependent than ever.
Our lives and futures are linked by our shared dependence on our planet and its environments. We have a global responsibility to solve the climate crisis together. We see the growth of an increasingly digital and global economy, keeping us connected through ecosystems of financial interdependence. And as we learned in the recent pandemic, our collective health is also inextricably linked.
Global crises also continue to grow increasingly interconnected––and the consequences disproportionately fall on vulnerable communities. Developing nations who often contribute the least to climate change bear the brunt of its impact. And due to a lack of infrastructure and technological advancement, they are often the least equipped to respond to natural disasters. While the digital economy continues to grow, 2.6 billion people remain unconnected, denying them access to the opportunities and resources available. The consequences of each crisis exacerbate others—access to education is disrupted, progress for women and girls is set back, and extreme poverty rates rise.
Pursuing our Purpose can and must be the glue that brings us together to meet this moment and address these complex, interconnected issues. The question we must continue to ask as we look ahead is, how?
This year’s report reflects on how—how we achieved our goal of positively impacting 1 billion lives, how the private sector can work in new ways to address critical issues facing our societies, and how we can apply lessons from the past to build resilience in our communities for the future.
Where do we go from here?
There is no doubt that the path forward for business in a multipolar world isn’t entirely clear. There is significant work ahead to address risks in supply chains and manufacturing, and complex questions on how to best navigate a shifting geopolitical terrain. But should these challenges and uncertainties also apply to Purpose?
I don’t think so. In fact, in this moment when many are shying away from a global mindset and approach, our Purpose work proceeds by pursuing what is most meaningful, regardless if that is at the local or global level. Purpose can flex. It operates in a lane that is valued around the world, giving all of us who do this work the space to create and iterate, to sway and pivot, and find our rhythm. And when we do, pursuing our Purpose holds the door open for economic initiatives.
As we close the year in which we reached a goal of positively impacting one billion people, I’m looking ahead and considering the next goal we’ll set for ourselves. We are stronger with our partners by our side—an ecosystem focused on driving impact. We’ll continue to do this if we integrate the lessons of the past and take a new approach in the days and years ahead. I hope you’ll join us on this journey and read about our impact this year, and my reflections on what’s next, in our FY23 Purpose Report. Together, we can do good for our communities, good for our businesses, and good for all.
Read the full Cisco FY23 Purpose Report
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