A very different Cisco Live customer event began today: Totally online, no pomp, blaring music or flashing lights and featuring a keynot address that hit upon global challenges outside the tech industry.

Cisco CEO Chuck Robbins said that 2020 has been a difficult and challenging year starting witih the COVID-19 pandemic and the fundamental change it brought upon all aspects of business, including a dramatic economic contraction and job losses.

Then, noting the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and others that sparked national outrage and protests, Robbins said, “It reminds us of the need for dignity, respect, fairness, and equality, in all of our societies around the world.” 

Robbins said society’s “own reckoning with deep-rooted, systemic racism and bigotry has brought to light centuries of inequality, injustice, and fragility underpinning our society for far too long.”

“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.

Cisco has donated some $500 million to a variety of COVID-19, justice and equality causes including a recent $5 million donation to the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, Black Lives Matter and other organizations fighting racism and discrimination.

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