The COVID-19 pandemic presented extraordinary challenges in fiscal 2020 and caused unprecedented disruption for many. As Cisco powers the world’s networks, we played a role as an essential business supporting the global response to the pandemic. Our priorities were to provide critical infrastructure for humanitarian response and essential services and to protect the health, safety, and human rights of workers who build our products in the supply chain.
At the beginning of the pandemic, we developed a new order prioritization process. This enabled the fulfillment of over 2500 requests related to first responders, such as healthcare providers, telemedicine, and mobile COVID-19 testing, in addition to public services, schools, and other businesses deemed essential services during the COVID-19 pandemic. Our repair centers also collected, refurbished, and distributed hundreds of Cisco Collaboration devices for use in telemedicine. And we leveraged our existing remanufactured inventory in Cisco Refresh to help meet urgent demand as businesses transitioned to work-from-home, demonstrating the resiliency benefits of a circular economy model.
Our partnership with our suppliers was critical to support delivery of products and protection of workers. We acted quickly to engage our supply base and provided them guidelines on responsible business conduct while operating during the pandemic. With our manufacturing partners around the globe who build our final products, we monitored the development and execution of detailed pandemic response plans to minimize workers’ exposure to the virus. We also provided supplemental funds for workers’ personal protective equipment (PPE) and COVID-19 testing to select manufacturing partner sites.
We worked with supply chain partners to determine when it was in the best interest of workers to reduce capacity or perform brief shutdowns of specific sites to reduce the risk of transmission of COVID-19. We also leveraged our global network and worked aggressively to re-route orders, expedite alternative component supply, and bring up additional manufacturing capability. This enabled us to meet customer needs and ensure workers were protected.
Despite our best efforts, it was reported to us that three extended team members within our manufacturing and logistics network passed away from COVID-19-related complications early in the pandemic. We take this loss to heart and took steps to assist the affected families by offering financial and emotional support. We take the protection of the workers in our supply chain very seriously and are committed to continuously improve how we operate to protect and respect the rights of all people.
Cisco also assessed component suppliers’ protection of workers’ health and human rights during the pandemic. We surveyed more than 150 components supplier sites to ensure:
- Plans were implemented to protect workers from COVID-19, including providing basic emergency medical care and PPE
- Labor shortages were addressed without violations of our Supplier Code of Conduct
- Wages and social insurance were paid to workers on extended leave, quarantine, or seeking medical attention
To help support suppliers through the lasting effects of the pandemic, we worked with fellow RBA members to develop and provide further recommendations for Suppliers’ Protection of Workers during COVID-19. Our intent is to strengthen supplier resiliency by helping them build a strong response program that supports workers. These recommendations were also provided to the RBA to share amongst the wider membership.
Moving forward into fiscal 2021, we’ve adjusted our supply chain sustainability activities and business operations to adapt to COVID-19, and our plans are under continual improvement. We continue to honor our commitments to ensure protection of vulnerable workers in our supply chain who are impacted by the pandemic. We are adjusting our due diligence processes, using remote engagements in lieu of onsite audits where appropriate, in order to protect worker health. We will also continue to work with our supply chain partners to ensure human rights are protected and build supply chain resilience to meet the needs of our customers.