Daily CSR
Daily CSR

Daily CSR
Daily news about corporate social responsibility, ethics and sustainability

Advancing Accessibility and Inclusion at Cisco: A Commitment to Equal Access and Innovation


When we discuss our involvement in enhancing accessibility and promoting inclusion for individuals with disabilities at Cisco, some might respond by thinking, "That's a commendable effort, but it doesn't have any relevance to me." However, this perspective is mistaken.
Unlike certain fixed aspects of identity like race, color, religion, gender, sexual orientation, national origin, age, and veteran status, the possibility of experiencing a disability is open to anyone unexpectedly. In fact, given the privilege of a long life, it is highly probable that each of us will eventually encounter some form of disability, whether it's a temporary condition (such as a common bone fracture) or a more enduring situation.
This underscores the immense importance of the work we undertake concerning accessibility and disability inclusion as a fundamental part of Cisco's initiatives for social justice. The reason is simple: any one of us has the potential to become disabled, and the vast majority of us will indeed experience disability at some juncture in our lives.
As we mark the 33rd anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, we take a moment to consider the progress we've made in enhancing accessibility for our employees, partners, suppliers, and customers. Simultaneously, we acknowledge that there remains a journey ahead of us.
At its core, accessibility embodies the principle that every individual, regardless of their abilities, should have the ability to access and utilize the same resources—be it a physical space, technology, systems, or content. Cisco's Social Impact Office approaches accessibility and disability inclusion from multiple perspectives, recognizing the various ways in which Cisco interacts with people. This extends across the realms of recruitment and employment experiences, the development of our products and services, as well as our interactions with customers, partners, and suppliers.
Beyond our expertise in accessibility and disability inclusion, we serve as consultants to various Cisco teams. A significant portion of our efforts is dedicated to the Social Justice Action 12 accessibility workstream, which centers on human rights within technological solutions. Our role encompasses evaluating the current state of accessibility at Cisco, formulating a comprehensive strategy to enhance accessibility across the entire organization, and driving the execution of these initiatives.
To identify gaps in Cisco's accessibility and disability inclusion efforts, an extensive research endeavor was undertaken. We conducted interviews with over 100 individuals spanning all sectors of our business, and organized focused discussion groups with individuals who identify as disabled or neurodivergent. The outcomes of this research underscored a substantial opportunity to truly embed accessibility and inclusivity into Cisco's culture and products. This undertaking necessitates active engagement from all echelons of the company and a transformative shift in our approach to conducting business.
The rationale for this pursuit is unequivocal: an escalating number of our customers are emphasizing the importance of accessibility. Additionally, certain customer segments, particularly government entities, educational institutions, and regulated industries, have formalized accessibility requirements. Technologies failing to meet these standards will find themselves excluded.
As leaders in this initiative, we are encouraged by Cisco's public commitment to prioritize the disability and neurodivergent communities. This commitment is exemplified by our participation in the Valuable 500, a global consortium of 500 enterprises dedicated to eradicating disability exclusion. As part of our Valuable 500 pledge, Cisco has undertaken to make strides in four crucial domains, which align with our belief in equal access as a fundamental human right:
  • Designing with a human rights perspective
  • Enhancing economic prospects for individuals with disabilities.
  • Investing in training to bolster the recruitment, hiring, retention, and advancement of employees with disabilities.
  • Establishing a dedicated accessibility infrastructure, complete with resources and accountability.
Cisco's public dedication to this endeavor, along with the accountability it entails, holds significance not only for individuals with disabilities but for the entire community. Our purpose is rooted in forging an all-encompassing future. This signifies that the technology and services we provide to our customers, partners, suppliers, and workforce must be accessible to all. While we are progressing, there remains more work ahead of us.
Click here to learn more about Accessibility at Cisco.