The Common Good
January-February 2002

In Good Times and in Bad

by Rose Marie Berger, Jodi Hochstedler | January-February 2002

While it’s sometimes hard for corporate giants to do the right thing, networking
powerhouse Cisco Systems is taking the lead in good times and in bad.

While it’s sometimes hard for corporate giants to do the right thing, networking powerhouse Cisco Systems is taking the lead in good times and in bad. In April, Cisco joined with the Southern Poverty Law Center to expose hate and promote tolerance through the new www.tolerance. org Web site. Tolerance.org, in Spanish and English, has a searchable "hate map" showing where hate groups operate across the country and a "human rights map" with links to groups that promote tolerance. It also uses pop-up "truth panels" to debunk the propaganda of infamous hate sites.

In May, Cisco was feeling the economic crunch and laid off 8,500 of its Silicon Valley employees, but the layoffs came with the option of working at a local low-income nonprofit for a year—at Cisco’s expense. In lieu of severance, employees agreed to work for a year at homeless shelters, food banks, and other charities, earning just a third of their Cisco salaries but keeping their benefits and stock plans. It doesn’t cost the nonprofits anything, and the workers get an inside shot if Cisco starts hiring again.

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