Monday, May 27, 2024

Cisco’s Commitment to Human Rights: A Tribute to the 75th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights


December 10 marks the 75th anniversary of the United Nations’ adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), a landmark document that for the first time recognized  human rights and freedoms are inherent to all individuals, regardless of nationality, ethnicity, religion, or any other status.

At Cisco, we’ve had a longstanding commitment to respect the human rights enumerated in the Declaration, among other treaties. We conduct human rights due diligence to identify and address potential impacts to human rights at all stages of our value chain – from the way we source minerals and manufacture our products to potential impacts on end users stemming from intended and unintended uses of our products. This year, we introduced a new Environmental, Social, and Public Policy Committee of our Board of Directors to strategize and govern our approach to human rights, reflecting the increasing importance of and attention to these issues at the highest levels of our company.

As we commemorate this milestone, I wanted to reflect on the ongoing legacy of the UDHR, its relevance to Cisco, and how it shapes our work to fulfill our purpose of Powering an Inclusive Future for All. Here are a few of our most salient issues, along with some examples of our ongoing work to respect these rights.

Article 12: Right to Privacy

In the digital era, the right to privacy is more critical than ever. We work hard to respect the right to privacy by designing with privacy in mind from the earliest stages of the development process. In 2015, we created a dedicated privacy team to embed privacy by design as a core component of our development methodologies. This team is responsible for conducting privacy impact assessments (PIA) as part of the Cisco Secure Development Lifecycle. And, just as we’ve adapted and evolved our approach to privacy over the years in alignment with the changing technology landscape, we are doing the same for AI. Cisco’s Responsible AI framework, which applies a human rights lens to responsible design, development, and deployment of AI, was built on the foundation of our privacy program.

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Article 19: Right to Freedom of Opinion and Information

At Cisco, we strongly believe in the power of the Internet. There has been no greater force in making information more accessible and opportunities more available. We also recognize the inherent risk of this technology being misused. Navigating this balance – securely connecting billions of people while respecting human rights – is core to who we are. Cisco does not customize networking equipment to censor content, track Internet use by individuals, or intercept Internet communications. Our sales activities are in strict compliance with U.S. export rules and regulations, which are informed and guided by human rights principles. We have supported the United Nations Global Compact (UNGC) since its inception in 2000, and our commitment to human rights continues to evolve to meet new challenges posed by the rapid pace of change across the tech sector.

Article 23: Right to Just and Favorable Conditions of Work

We engage with suppliers globally to drive conformance to our human rights policies. As a founding member of the Responsible Business Alliance (RBA), Cisco adopted the RBA Code of Conduct as its Supplier Code of Conduct. This code sets standards for labor, health and safety, environment, ethics, and management systems. This past year, our audits covered the working conditions of more than 446,000 workers, and our programs helped give workers a voice on health and safety, bonded labor, and responsible mining.

As we celebrate the 75th anniversary of the UDHR, I am proud to share Cisco’s ongoing work to uphold these rights. For more information about how Cisco is addressing these issues, please read our latest Purpose Report or reference our environmental, social, and governance (ESG) initiatives, performance, and policies.

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