Cisco Systems Inc. said it’s put more money into efforts to mitigate the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and now is directing some of its contributions to help tackle systemic racism.
The biggest maker of computer networking gear and one of the most cash-rich companies in technology is using part of its Cisco Live technology conference to address the role of companies in tackling social issues. It had previously announced spending $50 million on helping homeless people in Silicon Valley and a further $225 on fighting the effects of the virus. The commitment has now been increased to half a billion dollars, the San Jose, California-based company said Tuesday.
Chief Executive Officer Chuck Robbins has become increasingly vocal in urging technology companies to help solve societal issues that aren’t being dealt with by government. He has said the company won’t cut jobs in the economic downturn and suggested others in the industry do the same.
“It is clear to me that our notions of corporate social responsibility, advocacy or even the most recent notion of stakeholder capitalism simply aren’t doing enough to care for our world,” Robbins said in a statement. “The successive battles of Covid-19, the resulting economic contraction and job losses, and our own reckoning with deep-rooted systemic racism and bigotry have brought to light centuries of inequality, injustice, and fragility underpinning our society for far too long.”
Robbins said that the typical pattern of corporate donations and declarations of solidarity aren’t enough. Neither is technology itself a solution.
The company introduced a number of programs that will take its efforts beyond financial contributions. They include providing expertise and manpower to nonprofit organizations that work with underserved communities, opening Cisco’s medical and other services to those outside its workforce, helping health care and education institutions recover from the crisis and research into technology that can help advance health care and reduce social inequality.