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

Welcome to our weblog collection on the folks behind Company Social Duty (CSR) at Cisco. Every weblog on this collection will spotlight a special Cisco worker who works carefully 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 buyers.  A centralized Enterprise and Human Rights (BHR) crew, fashioned in fiscal 2019, leads this work.

Meet Katie Shay, who began the BHR program at Cisco and is answerable for rising this crew. In honor of Worldwide Human Rights Day, we talked to her and discovered why she pursued human rights regulation, what introduced her to Cisco, and what vital initiatives the BHR crew 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 inquisitive about social justice points. After finishing my bachelor’s diploma, I labored at an organization that offered 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 task centered on decreasing the drop-out price by growing scholar 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 bought 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 spotted that I wished to pursue a profession in regulation and coverage. My regulation faculty expertise introduced me to human rights regulation. Particularly, I used to be actually inquisitive about exploring the concept of accountable enterprise decision-making from a human rights perspective.

What introduced you to Cisco, and what are your job obligations 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 cherished. However I bought a name from a recruiter at Cisco who was searching for somebody with a human rights background to affix the privateness crew. Round that point, Cisco was ahead leaning, saying privateness is a human proper. It was a dream alternative to affix Cisco on this effort, carry 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 every little thing I assumed it might be and extra. I get to work on essentially the most fascinating points which might be impacting folks all all over the world 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 folks’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) crew?

Katie: Quite a lot of firms don’t have a BHR crew. Due to Cisco’s dedication to social justice and our International Human Rights Coverage, adopted in 2012, we’ve been in a position to develop the crew 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 might influence their enterprise choices and the way their enterprise choices might 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 should do with our merchandise and our enterprise relationships.

What actions are we taking?

Katie: I used to be so impressed with the trouble that Cisco made round our Social Justice Beliefs and Actions and the trouble that we proceed to drive round these actions. The phrase “motion” is the vital piece, which means that we went past saying we’re horrified by the homicide of George Floyd. We’re horrified by the way in which that our African American and Black neighbors are handled in our communities. We determined we had 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’ve got to make a distinction, whether or not that’s by investing in suppliers which might be Black-owned or supporting HBCUs. I’m particularly happy with motion 12, which has to do with 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 techniques may end up in authorized or human rights implications for people. What’s the BHR crew doing to verify human rights rules are stored in thoughts as we design our merchandise?

Katie: We’ve labored with a cross-functional crew 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 response to privateness, safety, and equity rules. We’re involved about potential bias that could possibly be ingrained in our merchandise, so we’re working with related groups to evaluate and deal with 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 should doc how they’ve labored to handle the potential for bias of their system.

What would possibly folks be stunned to find out about human rights?

Katie: I feel many individuals could be stunned to be taught that contemplating human rights in enterprise choices is sweet for enterprise because it helps foster belief, larger transparency and stakeholder engagement. My crew is right here to be a associate to the enterprise and to assist Cisco respect human rights throughout our international operations. We method our work by searching for to grasp the enterprise aims, the shopper wants, the end-user wants, and the working atmosphere. Our crew thinks about how we are able to carry these views collectively to assist the enterprise put collectively a technique that may set us up for fulfillment and assist us fulfill our goal of respecting human rights within the areas the place we function.

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