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Cisco CEO Chuck Robbins tells employees U.S. needs new gun laws


Chuck Robbins, CEO of Cisco on the 2016 World Financial Discussion board in Davos, Switzerland.

David A. Grogan | CNBC

Cisco CEO Chuck Robbins has simply waded into one of the vital politically contentious debates within the nation. In an all-hands assembly with staff, Robbins known as for brand new gun legal guidelines, together with further background checks, in response to the latest mass capturing in Uvalde, Texas.

Cisco, which sells networking gear to firms and organizations all around the world, held an inner livestream on June 2. Within the assembly, Robbins mentioned the bloodbath at an elementary college in Uvalde, which resulted in 21 victims, 19 of whom have been third and fourth grade youngsters.

Robbins supplied his condolences to the victims and urged motion from political leaders to guard youngsters and colleges. One worker who tuned into the livestream recalled Robbins saying that he hoped Congress would act with an analogous outrage because it did when Russia invaded Ukraine.

The Home on Wednesday passed a gun invoice that will increase the minimal age to buy an assault rifle within the U.S. from 18 to 21. Nonetheless, the laws does not stand a lot of an opportunity within the Senate, which is evenly divided alongside social gathering traces. Republicans, who’ve remained united of their staunch opposition to gun reform, can block a invoice that has fewer than 60 votes.

Whereas tech executives have spoken up lately on points like immigration and racial justice, they have been extra reluctant to have interaction on probably the most controversial issues, largely to keep away from upsetting staff and clients. Robbins’ commentary is notable as a result of Cisco has staffers and shoppers all around the map — geographically and politically — and a tradition that is typically considered as extra conservative than lots of its youthful Silicon Valley friends. The corporate had 79,500 full-time staff as of mid-2021.

Robbins’ statements led to a heated debate on an inner chat board as staff started arguing their positions on the problem. Finally an govt in human sources intervened to attempt to hold the dialogue apolitical, in keeping with folks accustomed to the matter.

Some staff have been offended with Robbins, accusing him and the corporate of making an attempt to remove their Second Modification rights, stated the folks, who requested to not be named as a result of they weren’t licensed to talk publicly on the problem. One other group of staff jumped in to defend Robbins and stated his statements have been being misinterpreted.

Robbins confirmed components of the dialogue with CNBC on Wednesday, following an look on “Mad Cash” with Jim Cramer. He stated that though the combating occurred amongst a small contingent of staff, the “politicization” of gun legal guidelines made him “pissed off.”

Robbins knew that mentioning the subject of weapons was “dangerous,” however he instructed CNBC he felt the necessity to say one thing as a result of “youngsters in colleges are being slaughtered.” He stated he has a grandchild getting ready to enter the primary grade, so the problem hits near house.

It isn’t the primary time for Robbins to specific his views following the Uvalde bloodbath. Shortly after the capturing in late Could, Francine Katsoudas, Cisco’s chief folks officer, tweeted: “We should name on leaders in Congress to go smart gun management laws beginning with background checks to make sure a safer future for youngsters and communities within the U.S.” 

Robbins shared the tweet and added, “We’d like Congress to behave. It’s clear our present plan is NOT working.”

The problem is gaining momentum within the non-public sector. Some 200 CEOs have signed a petition urging the Senate to take motion. They’re utilizing the moniker “CEOs for Gun Security.”

In a observe to staff following the Uvalde capturing on Could 25, Cisco stated staff might have the next break day work in the event that they needed some private time within the wake of the tragedy.

A Cisco spokesperson despatched this assertion in an e-mail to CNBC:

“At Cisco, we’re keen about serving to our staff really feel secure and supported at work and of their communities. And like many, we’re devastated and heartbroken by the tragedies which have occurred over the previous few weeks. In our firm check-ins, Cisco frequently gives alternatives for workers to share their considerations, study from exterior consultants and entry sources in the event that they select to become involved. Powering an Inclusive Future for All begins with selling wholesome dialogue, and Cisco is happy with its packages that give staff the chance to specific their views and assist for points which can be vital to them.”

Robbins hasn’t been shy in relation to partaking on hot-button points lately.

Instantly following the the homicide of George Floyd in 2020, Robbins and executives held a 90-minute “teach-in” as an alternative of its ordinary all-hands assembly with a purpose to focus on structural racism, implicit bias, police brutality and “shared accountability” of staff and the general public. In 2018, Robbins despatched a number of company-wide emails concerning the significance of accessing psychological well being therapy and discovering a assist community after a string of high-profile suicides.

—CNBC tech reporter Jordan Novet contributed to this report.

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