By Kelly Petrich
Submitted by Cisco Systems, Inc.
Cisco was honored last year to win the top spot on People’s 2023 List of Companies That Care, and a key factor was our employee culture of giving back.
We’ve been on a multi-year journey to engage our employees for positive impact at scale. Four years in, the results surprised even us. Not only did we see significant increases in donations and volunteerism to our global communities, but tangible benefits back to Cisco.
“We learned from Cisco’s own business transformation to make giving back a habit.”
Leveraging Business Transformation for Employee Giving
It all started with an audacious goal around 2016 to engage 80% of our employees in giving back annually by the year 2020. We diligently adopted best practices in the field such as offering year-round donation matching, raised annual match amounts to $25,000 per employee, and offered 40 hours of volunteer time off per year. These were an excellent foundation and edged our engagement up to 50%. Good, but not enough.
The breakthrough came when we shifted to learn from Cisco’s own business transformation and re-design around the question: How do we make giving back a habit? We landed on these design principles:
We continued to iterate through 2019, and that year we hit our goal with 81% employee participation. Since then, we haven’t looked back. We have been sustaining these rates, including an increase to 85% participation in fiscal year 2023.
Hitting our goal felt like a feat unto itself, but what came out of it was even better—increased social impact and substantial business value. Let’s look at the numbers.
Leveraging Employee Giving for Social Impact
Not surprisingly, engaging at scale grew our employee volunteerism and giving exponentially. From 2016 to 2020 when we first hit 80%, we saw a 176% increase in volunteer hours and a 150% increase in employee donations and matching.
And each year that we’ve hit 80%, we have sustained record levels of contributions, providing a total of $130 million to over 7,000 nonprofits over the past four years. When you look closely at the nearly one million actions taken over these years, you see meaningful stories of change, like:
Leveraging Social Impact for Business Value
Cisco’s purpose is to Power an Inclusive Future for All, and at the heart of this is the belief that doing good for the world is good for business—and we have the data to prove that it is.
With the help of Cisco’s Research and Intelligence team, we conducted a longitudinal study to explore the relationship between giving back at Cisco and individual, leader, and team performance data. We examined the first three years of Cisco’s 80% engagement data—who gave back, what they did, and how frequently—against performance data to analyze business factors like attrition, promotion, bonuses, and recognition.
The results were eye-opening. Compared to employees who did not take any community impact action, those who took at least one per year stayed longer at Cisco, had higher bonuses, had higher odds of promotion, and received more recognition from others.
The same held true for specific subgroups like teams, leaders, and new hires. For example, when a team collectively engaged in giving back, the whole team had higher rates of promotion and higher recognition.
Particularly compelling was that when leaders engaged in giving back, their team was more likely to give back as well. Such leaders had 20% lower attrition rates for their teams than their non-engaged counterparts.
Doing Good for the World is Good for Business
When we put these elements together—social impact and business value—this is the foundation for building a purpose-driven employee culture. Our journey has helped us demonstrate that making a positive impact to our world also makes an incredibly positive impact for Cisco.
And like any good story, the end is just the beginning. While we continue to engage at scale, we also invite our broader ecosystem of business partners, customers, and suppliers to join us. Check out our Partnering for Purpose blog stories for examples and contact us to share your story.
View original content here.
More from Cisco Systems, Inc.