Individuals Behind CSR at Cisco: A dedication to enterprise and human rights


Welcome to our weblog sequence on the individuals behind Company Social Duty (CSR) at Cisco. Every weblog on this sequence will spotlight a unique Cisco worker who works intently with CSR initiatives throughout the corporate.

As know-how continues to advance, it opens new alternatives for communication and innovation. However on the similar time, there’s an elevated danger of know-how being utilized in ways in which hurt human rights. Cisco is dedicated to figuring out and managing its human rights impacts. We do that by specializing in mitigating dangers and fostering collaborative and clear engagement with our stakeholders and traders.  A centralized Enterprise and Human Rights (BHR) group, fashioned in fiscal 2019, leads this work.

Meet Katie Shay, who began the BHR program at Cisco and is accountable for rising this group. In honor of Worldwide Human Rights Day, we talked to her and realized why she pursued human rights legislation, what introduced her to Cisco, and what crucial initiatives the BHR group is main.

Are you able to inform me a bit about your life earlier than becoming a member of Cisco?  

Katie Shay, Head of Business and Human Rights at Cisco
Katie Shay, Head of Enterprise and Human Rights (BHR) at Cisco

 Katie: Ever since I used to be an adolescent, I’ve been fascinated by social justice points. After finishing my bachelor’s diploma, I labored at an organization that supplied telecommunications companies for people who find themselves deaf or laborious of listening to. I then served a 12 months with AmeriCorps VISTA in public faculties in Milwaukee, Wisconsin in a job centered on lowering the drop-out price by growing pupil engagement with the neighborhood. That allowed me to get proximate to part of my neighborhood that I didn’t work together with a lot in my day-to-day life, and I obtained shut with my college students. Once I stepped again and checked out all of the various things that made it laborious for my college students to finish highschool, I noticed that I wished to pursue a profession in legislation and coverage. My legislation college expertise introduced me to human rights legislation. Particularly, I used to be actually fascinated by exploring the concept of accountable enterprise decision-making from a human rights perspective.

What introduced you to Cisco, and what are your job duties now?

Katie: As a lawyer, I’ve developed an experience in enterprise and human rights. First at a civil society group after which in-house at Yahoo. I moved to North Carolina to be nearer to household and continued working remotely for Yahoo doing a job that I liked. However I obtained a name from a recruiter at Cisco who was on the lookout for somebody with a human rights background to affix the privateness group. Round that point, Cisco was ahead leaning, saying privateness is a human proper. It was a dream alternative to affix Cisco on this effort, convey my experience to an organization that’s dedicated to those points, and construct one thing new. It additionally occurred to be in my stunning North Carolina yard, and Cisco appeared like a fantastic place to work!

I’ve been so proud of the expertise. It has been the whole lot I believed it will be and extra. I get to work on essentially the most fascinating points which can be impacting individuals all world wide who use our merchandise. The selections we make about how we design our merchandise, how we construct them, and the way we put them out available in the market have actual impacts on individuals’s lives. Examples embrace making Webex extra accessible or enhancing our safety merchandise to guard privateness on-line. My colleagues have embraced Cisco’s objective to energy an inclusive future for all. As an organization, we’re dedicated to conducting ourselves as a accountable enterprise and utilizing our place to affect our companions and suppliers to be doing extra of the identical factor.

Are you able to inform me extra in regards to the Enterprise and Human Rights (BHR) group?

Katie: Loads of firms don’t have a BHR group. Due to Cisco’s dedication to social justice and our International Human Rights Coverage, adopted in 2012, we’ve been in a position to broaden the group and dial in on a technique for Cisco that advances human rights. One prong of that’s that we’re embedding human rights into governance at Cisco. We’re creating insurance policies and processes in order that our enterprise companions can get quicker evaluation and solutions on how human rights points could influence their enterprise selections and the way their enterprise selections could influence human rights. We’ve additionally created a Human Rights Advisory Committee that’s a part of that total governance framework. The opposite two prongs of our technique must do with our merchandise and our enterprise relationships.

What actions are we taking?

Katie: I used to be so impressed with the hassle that Cisco made round our Social Justice Beliefs and Actions and the hassle that we proceed to drive round these actions. The phrase “motion” is the crucial piece, that means that we went past saying we’re horrified by the homicide of George Floyd. We’re horrified by the best way that our African American and Black neighbors are handled in our communities. We determined we have been going to do one thing about it. And whenever you look throughout our social justice actions, what you’ll see is that we’ve checked out almost each a part of the enterprise. And each alternative that we have now to make a distinction, whether or not that’s by investing in suppliers which can be Black-owned or supporting HBCUs. I’m particularly happy with motion 12, which has to do with taking a look at our product portfolio and the impacts of that know-how on susceptible populations, which would come with the African American and Black neighborhood that we had in thoughts once we revealed these actions.

AI/ML programs can lead to authorized or human rights implications for people. What’s the BHR group doing to verify human rights ideas are saved in thoughts as we design our merchandise?

Katie: We’ve labored with a cross-functional group from privateness, safety, human rights, engineering, authorities affairs, and others to develop accountable Synthetic Intelligence (AI) controls that require all our AI merchandise to be constructed in line with privateness, safety, and equity ideas. We’re involved about potential bias that may very well be ingrained in our merchandise, so we’re working with related groups to evaluate and handle the influence of these applied sciences on human rights. For instance, when groups are constructing facial recognition for Webex, they need to adhere to our privateness and safety necessities, and so they additionally must doc how they’ve labored to handle the potential for bias of their system.

What may individuals be shocked to study human rights?

Katie: I believe many individuals can be shocked to study that contemplating human rights in enterprise selections is nice for enterprise because it helps foster belief, better transparency and stakeholder engagement. My group is right here to be a companion to the enterprise and to assist Cisco respect human rights throughout our world operations. We strategy our work by searching for to grasp the enterprise goals, the shopper wants, the end-user wants, and the working atmosphere. Our group thinks about how we are able to convey these views collectively to assist the enterprise put collectively a technique that can set us up for achievement and assist us fulfill our goal of respecting human rights within the areas the place we function.

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