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Our company culture

Engaged employees—who feel a sense of belonging and ownership—deliver results, enhancing our performance and our shareholders’ interests.

Our success is rooted in our people. We have a unique, authentic corporate culture that adheres to the following principles of engagement:

  • Promote engaging and positive work environments that reflect openness, informality, and professionalism
  • Ensure employee understanding of our strategy and goals and their individual contributions to advance them
  • Recognize and reward individuals with transparent and competitive rewards strategies
  • Support work-life flexibility, inclusion, and total wellbeing
  • Communicate with honesty

By following these principles, we thrive within our sector. In 2020, we were proud to rank #2 in our industry on the Fortune World’s Most Admired Companies list, after ranking in the top five since 2017. We’ve also been recognized as a ‘Great Place to Work’ for the last five years in the United States, Canada, and India, where collectively 83 percent of our employees are based.


According to the Fortune Great Place to Work 2019 U.S. National Employee Engagement Survey:

  • 85 percent of employees say it is a great place to work
  • 89 percent of employees feel colleagues are willing to give extra to get the job done
  • 91 percent of employees feel they can take time off when necessary
  • 91 percent of employees feel welcome when they join the company
  • 92 percent of employees feel they are given sufficient responsibility at work

In addition, our own employee Pulse Surveys enable us to continuously evaluate and improve our employees’ experience.

Recognition program

Our reward program, bravo!, facilitates peer-to-peer and financial recognition for both our teams and individuals. In 2020, approximately 9,800 awards were given to employees and more than 60 percent of our team received and/or nominated a colleague for an award. Annually, we also recognize and celebrate individuals and teams who embody our core values with the Spirit of Ciena award.

While bravo! serves as our core recognition platform, we also have a proud history of recognizing our Distinguished Engineers and Ciena Fellows, with both designations being highly prestigious lifetime honors. The program is intended to celebrate and recognize outstanding technical contributors within the company and, over time, build a network of our most valued, esteemed, and influential experts.

  • A Ciena Fellow is seen as a recognized technical expert and influencer both within Ciena and the industry
  • A Distinguished Engineer's impact is primarily at the Ciena level

Attracting the best

To hire and retain the best talent, we offer competitive compensation, progressive benefits, and wellbeing programs across numerous dimensions. We offer our employees the opportunity to grow in their careers and gain new skills through training and development programs.


We strive to ensure that our employees receive competitive, fair, and transparent compensation, with incentives tied to business and individual performance. To promote a sense of ownership, we maintain an employee stock purchase plan and have significantly expanded equity compensation deeper into our organization in recent years, particularly in engineering and other technical functions. Over the past two years, the overall target delivered value of annual equity awards to non-executive employees increased by 33 percent and the number of employees who received annual equity awards increased by over 50 percent.

On at least an annual basis, a study is conducted to assess differences in pay for individuals performing like or similar duties and accountabilities. The intent is to understand whether observed differences are expected on the basis of experience, work location, performance, or qualifications. Unexpected differences are then isolated/reviewed to ensure differences cannot be ascribed to gender or other identifiable bias. The review in 2020 identified a small number of cases, some favoring men and some favoring women, which prompted further study. In a few instances, steps were taken to address the observed pay gap and alleviate the concern. Ciena is committed to regular, ongoing assessment of pay practices to ensure fairness to all of our valued team members.

Employee benefits

We provide our employees with competitive benefits, including medical, dental, vision, life, and disability insurance; flexible spending accounts; employee stock purchase plans; 401(k) options; and other voluntary benefits such as identity theft protection, legal benefits, auto/homeowners insurance, accident insurance, and more.

Employees who are traveling on business or who need relocation or immigration support are also eligible to receive support.

For employees in North America, in 2018 we migrated from traditional vacation accruals to a fully flexible paid-time-off approach. This allows employees to access to unlimited paid time off with manager’s approval. We intend to continue to expand the reach of this program where permissible across our other locations.

We offer 100 percent company-paid health coverage for employees, dependents, and part-timers.

Global family leave

We offer global family leave options to support employees throughout various life stages. All full-time and part-time employees who work more than 20 hours a week are eligible for Global Family Leave program.

New mothers receive a minimum of 18 weeks paid time off (inclusive of eight weeks for recovering and ten weeks of bonding). When they return to work, they have an eight-week transition period of part-time work at a full-time salary, which includes additional support and offerings such as a designated colleague to support them in their transition. New fathers are provided ten weeks paid time off. We offer adoptive parents ten weeks paid time off as well as financial assistance of up to $10,000 (or their local equivalent). Employees who are caring for a spouse, child, or parent with a serious health condition can receive four weeks of paid time off.

Flexible work

For many years, we have offered our office-based employees the flexibility to work from home regularly to accommodate life’s many demands and this has been a top value driver for employees. Our flexible work program includes resources for remote work success on topics such as communications tactics, productivity, ergonomics, and safety.

However, the pandemic has emboldened our flexible working arrangements, with nearly all employees having to work remotely. We have supplemented this with additional benefits and services to enable global flexibility. We have been evaluating what the future of work will be post pandemic, and we plan to operate a hybrid working model going forward with our real estate, IT, and people benefits teams providing the required collaboration tools to enable success, whilst enabling sustainability benefits like reduced commuting.


Acknowledging the connection between individual wellness and job performance, we offer comprehensive resources to help employees and their families improve their physical and mental health, address emotional and family challenges, manage financial wellbeing, and develop stronger social connections with their colleagues. Our focus on supporting our employees’ health and wellbeing improves our business performance by reducing lost time, managing health-related expenses, and increasing productivity and engagement.

Our Global Wellbeing program promotes a culture of wellbeing and connection. It consists of numerous tools that employees can access through our wellbeing portal. Key components include:

  • Fitness challenges, activity and sleep tracking, and rewards for participation
  • Wellness reimbursements
  • Toolkits on topics including mental health, meditation, mindfulness, resiliency, working remotely, and more
  • 24/7 crisis support
  • A mental health check-up tool that includes company-paid mental health coaching
  • Company-paid counseling (up to five visits with the option to extend if needed)
  • Video trainings on mental health
  • Wellbeing chats during which employees can share their own personal stories to help others
  • Wellbeing coordinators
  • Employee assistance program

To continue to promote the financial wellbeing of our employees, in recent years we implemented retirement plan design changes and a new post-tax retirement savings plan intended to further encourage participation and increased retirement savings. We also increased our employer match for employee contributions to such plans in the U.S. and Canada and have added an Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) fund to our list of portfolio options under our U.S. 401(k) plan. As a result of these changes, more than 99 percent of our eligible employees in the U.S. and approximately 95 percent of our eligible employees in Canada participate in these voluntary retirement plans. In early 2021, we launched a financial wellbeing platform that includes ongoing education and communication to promote a shared understanding of holistic financial wellbeing and retirement readiness across the full range of our employees’ career stages, as well as financial support to engage a personal financial coach or advisor

Additional pandemic support and benefits

Global Pandemic Leave

Global Pandemic Leave is an additional benefit that is designed to help ease the burden on employees by providing the additional time needed to focus on rest and recovery for those directly affected by a global pandemic event (as declared by the World Health Organization). It is intended as a first resource prior to initiating existing benefits and leave programs including sick leave/disability, carer’s leave, PTO, or other statutory leaves to which they may be entitled. All full-time and part-time employees are eligible for this benefit.

If our employees are unable to work as a direct result of themselves or an immediate family member being diagnosed with an illness resulting from a global pandemic event, or as a direct result of them being required to quarantine due to a global pandemic event and their job can only be performed in a Ciena facility, they may be eligible for up to four weeks of paid leave upon approval by their manager. Requests for Global Pandemic Leave may be approved by managers in increments of up to two consecutive weeks. If they are still unable to work after exhausting all four weeks of Global Pandemic Leave, they may be eligible for other existing Ciena leave programs depending on their individual circumstances. This includes disability leave, carer’s leave, available PTO, and, finally, statutory family or personal leave.

pandemic leave

FY21 funding for Working From Home (WFH)

In 2021, we are providing up to $300 USD for home office set-up from February 1 until July 31, 2021, for items such as a monitor, keyboard, mouse, chair, or webcam. All individuals are eligible—including those working onsite in one of our major R&D centers supporting critical programs, and individuals who were previously designated as a remote worker prior to COVID-19. New hires will be given direction during the onboarding process.

We recognize May as Mental Health Awareness Month, and celebrate it with our full team across the globe to eliminate stigma and drive awareness. In May 2020, we offered a 20-day self-care challenge in which we encouraged employees to take care of themselves by reducing technology use and identifying calming activities. By participating, employees could enter a raffle, with winners getting the chance to donate to a mental health non-profit of their choice.

Employee assistance program

Through our recognized partners, we offer all full-time and part-time employees and their household members free counseling, resources, and information to help them navigate challenges. The service is completely confidential. In addition to phone consultations and referrals to community resources, online resources include details on:

  • Improving family communication
  • Maintaining harmony between work and home life
  • Managing life changes
  • Handling stress
  • Surviving the loss of a loved one
  • Managing anxiety and depression
  • Handling substance abuse
  • Reporting bullying and harassment
  • Managing workplace issues
  • Identifying couples’ support
  • Navigating parenting challenges
  • Caring for an elder
  • Receiving support for career counseling, retirement planning, and financial planning
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