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Sustainability & CSR

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In October, my friends Hemang Desai, Marcelo Teixeira, and I returned to Swaziland to volunteer with Young Heroes, a non-governmental organization (NGO) dedicated to helping children orphaned by the HIV/AIDS crisis. The organization was founded a few years ago by a Peace Corps volunteer with the goal to find sponsors who will make monthly donations to support specific orphans and their care-giver families with funds for food and basic needs.  Young Heroes is also an organization SAP supports through many different initiatives.


Even though it’s one of the smallest countries in Africa, Swaziland is one of the hungriest countries in the world, and the UN Food and Agriculture Organization reports that 35.8 of Swaziland's 1.3 million population are undernourished. It also has the world’s highest rate of HIV/AIDS infection.  According to the 2012 HIV Incidence Measurement Survey, 31% of adults 18 to 49 have HIV and nearly 125,000 Swazi children have lost at least one parent to this devastating epidemic. 


The three of us were introduced to Young Heroes during our 2013 Social Sabbatical and were so inspired by the progress this organization was making in Swaziland that we wanted to return and become more involved.  The goal of our trip was to delve deeper into Young Heroes’ work, learn and contribute to their initiatives, and make an impact in the communities we visited. The trip was set and so was our itinerary, which included cooking over an open-pit fire for 75 orphans and their care-givers, painting the interior and exterior of two school buildings, and lots of playing and engaging with the local community members. Needless to say we were ready and excited!



Excited to start our volunteering! Marcelo, Shahzia, Hemang just landed at Tambo, Johannesburg Airport.


I anticipated my return to Swaziland to be similar to my last visit.  My experience this year, however, though similar in activities, felt very different.  What had changed during my week here? What had changed since the last time I volunteered in Swaziland? One week later, as I sat at the airport in Cape Town, South Africa, starting my journey home, swiping through pictures and videos on my phone to relive the week, I smiled, laughed, shed a few tears, and found myself evaluating a juxtaposition of emotions, questioning my own altruism volunteering in Africa. I also wondered what will be the ultimate impact of my time volunteering? Is my volunteering contributing to long-term sustainability for these communities? Are volunteers like me inhibiting creation of local efforts? Should I (on a personal-level) donate differently?


Pondering these questions over a long 24+ hour flight home helped me identify the things I learned volunteering in Africa, and some answers to my questions.




Swaziland Volunteering Video


A Shift in Donating: Should We Donate Differently? Yes.


In the TED Talk “Evaluating Everything We Give,” Joy Sun persuasively argues why we should look at giving differently:  “The more cash we give to the poor, and the more evidence we have that it works, the more we have to reconsider everything else we give,” she says.  Sun’s talk spans across not only what we donate, but how we donate. We saw why the way in which we gave matters as well as what we give first-hand in Swaziland. The more time we spent volunteering and interacting with the orphans and care-givers across various activities, the more we realized the power of close-knit communities and their strong desire, will, and aspiration to better their own lives.  My favorite example is Katherine, our South African driver, who spent her time with us in Swaziland.  Her ability to connect with the local community and engage with us on all of our projects clearly showed her enthusiasm. She was eager and excited to learn how to paint and even asked me to take selfies of her holding a paint brush! What became increasingly obvious was that she was not the only one.  All of the communities we visited were eager to cook, clean, and paint with us. They were perfectly capable and willing, just under-resourced or in some instances, lacking the right skill sets. 



Painting at Mdumezulu High School


This is one of the reasons why I enjoyed volunteering with Young Heroes, whose primary method of aid is through a program whereby donors can give cash directly to the hands of the orphans and their families/care-givers.  This empowers families to take initiative and build towards their own well-being. In addition to donating money to the families, Young Heroes supplements aid through volunteering and resources (food and materials) that enables communities to look after their well-being. And as we volunteered, we realized this method of aid helps bridge a gap between just giving money to the poor and our time and resources to encourage these communities to plan, organize, and complete projects. Ultimately, I learned donating differently means we need to look at our donations beyond just money, time, and resources—we  should look at the communities’ needs and help accordingly, with the right combination.


Local Engagement: Enabling Communities to Solve Problems.


After reading Burnham’s review of Easterly’s book, The White Man’s Burden, I realized it’s not aid to the poor that’s problematic; it’s the way we implement the solutions.  Most methods used today are designed, developed, and implemented by foreign NGOs that inhibit the mobilization of local communities to develop solutions, regardless of where the aid is coming from. Linking community involvement in developing methods for aid distribution, regardless of its form, is paramount to ensuring long-term sustainability and successfully making a difference to the poor. 


Looking back at my own experiences in Africa, I realized the success of our projects harbored on the local community’s involvement and execution.  From the many orphanages and children’s centers we visited, we quickly realized the enthusiasm from the local community, and we leveraged this by getting them involved--and sometimes even had them lead--our volunteering efforts. For instance, the day we cooked a hearty meal for 75 orphans and care-givers, we provided the community with resources (food ingredients) and our help to cook the meal. Yet it was the community leading the efforts and guiding  to ultimately get the task of cooking a community meal done. As we were cooking, serving food, and cleaning that day, we also felt something very special.  We experienced first-hand just how important our presence to be there physically with the orphans, care-givers, and community members was.  We saw their ability to feel our passion, desire, and excitement to help them, play with them, and just talk to them as encouragement.  This motivated the community members to share ideas, contribute to projects, solve problems, and develop solutions.  Watching the community in action, I realized just how important it is to include local engagement in developing models for aid execution in any volunteering activity.  



Cooking at the Malindza NCP


By Helping Communities to Profit, We All Profit.


After two volunteering stints in Africa, I know that our best work comes when purpose, passion, and profit are aligned. However, fully experiencing this at times is impossible and at best, rare.  So how do we build the road to long-term success of these programs? The believe the answer lies in the principle of Shared Value, which involves creating economic value using methods that also create value for a community by addressing their most pressing needs.  Creating programs that focus on long-term sustainability, using diverse methods of aid, and most importantly, integrating programs so local resources—capital and human—are utilized in the solutions. 


Spending a week in Swaziland, I learned that SAP partners with Young Heroes in many different initiatives designed to create shared-value, which has been vital to the organizations success.  At SAP, we help the world run better and improve people’s lives in the communities that need it through technology, talent, and partnerships.  SAP’s global pro bono programs, like the Social Sabbatical and Emerging Entrepreneur Initiative, are both part of the company’s corporate social responsibility (CSR) strategy of fostering education and entrepreneurship in emerging markets to promote local economic value. When we have tight links between the non-profit and for-profit world, we will start to see more sustainable long-term impact in places such as Swaziland.


Reflecting on this experience, here’s most important lesson I learned:  Volunteering is extremely important. But we need to be more judicious about how we volunteer, avoid being just a distraction in the short-term, and align with organizations that promote long-term impact.  Volunteering in places like Africa is just as much about helping local communities in need as it is about our desire to help and give. As a volunteer, I see from my own journey that our desire to help is sincere, and we need to become more socially aware.  We need to be diligent to learn how local engagements for international volunteering work and ultimately understand the long-term impacts. Lastly, I know that we all need to do our little part in helping our world become a better place.






Related Blog: “A truly fulfilling “month” of service – Reflecting on my Social Sabbatical in South Africa”

The Hat Trick–Winning in Sports With Big Data

15847950476_f3598b1f91_k.jpgThere’s a technology skills gap on the horizon. And our first line of defense is to invest in education that equips students with the competencies they need to prosper in the workforce of the future.

Sadly, according to Workforce 2020, a global survey conducted by Oxford Economics, less than half of Canadian employees (44%) expect to be proficient in analytics, cloud and programming technologies in the next three years. And only 19% claim proficiency today.

That’s why SAP is proud to support the new Centre of Excellence in Analytics at the British Columbia Institute of Technology (BCIT) in Vancouver, Canada. On November 24, to a packed audience, the Centre hosted their launch event with a celebration of sports analytics, intended to show how winning on the soccer field isn’t all that different from winning in the market.

Attendees learned about the vision for the Centre as a hub to bring together the analytics community for collaboration, idea generation and sharing best practices to support and grow the sector. Through applied research, student projects, corporate training and industry collaboration students will gain comprehensive analytics education. Students at the Centre will also have the opportunity to gain credentials at both the undergraduate and graduate levels.

Chris Burton demonstrates how SAP is changing women’s tennis through analytics and on-court coaching.

The evening was capped off by a keynote presentation from Chris Burton (Group Vice President, Global Sponsorships) during which attendees were treated to five use cases for how analytics are changing the game in basketball, football, tennis, equestrian, and, of course, soccer.

Analytics is Winning the Game

In his remarks, Chris noted a number of trends in sports and entertainment that also apply to business. Crucial to both is the importance of maximizing your wins per dollar spent. A key question for both sport and business: given rising business costs, how do we maximize performance and make the most of investments made elsewhere in the business? The answer, of course, is the effective capture and analysis of data.

“The competitive advantage of businesses in the future lies in the ability to transfer and translate data into insight, Chris said. “Analytics enables better decisions, faster responses and simpler user experiences. Ultimately, a great tool to win in sport and business.”

Event attendees could be their own DataGeek by experiencing the SAP Match Insights soccer showcase.

Attendees also had the opportunity to be their own data scientist by experiencing the SAP Match Insights soccer showcase. Match Insights is the result of a co-innovation between SAP and the German Soccer Association (DFP – Deutscher Fussballbund) designed to help the team discover new insights from game data to help them prepare for the upcoming Soccer World Championship and FIFA World Cup. The showcase demonstrates with the example of a soccer match between Germany and Italy, how SAP is able analyze the data of an entire game in real-time. It allows viewers to take a deeper look into the strategic analysis of a game and learn more about team performance, individual player performance and situational analysis such as team formations, defense and offensive quality.

Education is Key

Education is key in closing the skills gap in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM)-related jobs. SAP’s partnership with BCIT is one piece of SAP’s larger Corporate Social Responsibility strategy to address the looming technology skills gap. Our larger vision for the partnership is a laddering pathway, beginning at Templeton Secondary School in Vancouver to inspire kids to choose STEM as a career path. By creating technology career pathways that span both secondary and post-secondary education, SAP hopes to ensure there is a robust talent pipeline to effectively resource the ever-growing technology field – social investments to truly help the world run better.

For years, Marcius Victorino and Marcelo Machado have researched and developed products to fight malaria, jungle fever and pests in agriculture. The breakthrough came in 2010 with a simple, effective, and affordable solution: MOTOFOG. The solution was designed for motorcycles, allowing the control and prevention of disease bearing mosquitoes and other vectors in urban and agricultural areas of difficult access that cars usually do not get to such as slums, hills, alleys, vacant lots, and junkyards.


Take a look at this video and you’ll understand how brilliant the idea of MOTOFOG is:



Since then, Marcius Victorino and Marcelo Machado have established their small company Fumajet in the market with national and international recognition of excellence. The company works with the public and private sectors and owns together with its partners 14 patents in Brazil and other countries. Fumajet has also sparked the interest of  potential customers in Africa with the same objective in mind – fighting epidemics and pests under difficult conditions at an affordable cost. To foster their growth ambitions and potential, Fumajet was selected together with four other social entrepreneurs in 2014 for SAP Expoentes – SAP’s emerging entrepreneur program in Brazil.

The program is run together with Endeavor, one of the main organizations worldwide to promote entrepreneurship. “High-impact companies like Fumajet are the change engines of a country. In addition to solving a big problem by delivering value to society, they create jobs and generate income for many families. With mentoring support and SAP technology, the potential of these entrepreneurs is raised to the maximum" said Enio Borges, account manager of the SAP Expoentes initiative at Endeavor Brazil.


A little over a month ago, Fumajet started to run its business on SAP’s Business One solution for small and midsize companies, implemented by Artsoft Sistemas, a SAP Partner. Despite this relatively short period of time, Marcelo Machado is already noticing the benefits. According to him, before the SAP management solution had been deployed, all internal processes – mainly in the production, inventory and warehouse areas – were slow and bureaucratic. "SAP Business One helps the communication among the areas, which means to integrate all processes in a smart way. Now, the company´s all sectors communicate and we can visualize all processes faster and in a more productive way," says Marcelo Machado. The SAP management solution has also optimized the Fumajet productivity by reducing the time for checking material inventories. "Now, we have quick and reliable information on the company´s inventories to make important business decisions. Before, it was required to use manual and constant checks, which demanded a lot of time from the employees," the entrepreneur explains.



Another highlight of 2014 for Fumajet was that they have recently been honored with the Innovation Award FINEP 2014, one of the most prestigious awards in the country. "This achievement was only possible thanks to the hard work and support of our partnerships, including the mentorship provided by the program and the benefits brought about by the implementation of the SAP solution," said Marcelo Machado, director at Fumajet.


Follow us to learn more about the SAP Expoentes program and its participants:


About SAP Expoentes:

Additional Information:

To follow the initiative via social media: @sapcsr, @sustainablesap



Any further questions, please contact Nicolette van Exel: Nicolette.vanexel@sap.com

SAP has been recognized today as one of America’s most community minded companies in The Civic 50, an annual initiative that identifies and recognizes companies for their commitment to improve the quality of life in the communities where they do business. Points of Light, the largest organization in the world dedicated to volunteer service conducted the survey in partnership with Bloomberg LP. All companies with $1 billion in revenue or more are invited to apply for the Civic 50.

“Corporate civic engagement is on the rise and it’s being led by the forward-thinking businesses included on The Civic 50 list,” said Neil Bush, Chairman of Points of Light. “The correlation their efforts showcase between community engagement and employee retention, productivity and overall bottom line benefits continues to prove that businesses that do good, do well. We congratulate this year’s Civic 50 and we hope that they continue to inspire greater investments in improving communities through corporate civic engagement.”

The Civic 50 survey was developed this year under the guidance of an academic panel of nine experts from leading universities throughout the country. The survey evaluates companies based on several criteria including how extensively and strategically resources are applied to community engagement, how a community engagement program supports business interests and integrates into business functions. Other criteria include how a company supports community engagement through its institutional policies, systems, and incentives, and how a company measures the social and business impact of its community engagement program.

In 2014 through our October Month of Service initiative, more than 6,500 SAP employees across North America dedicated 25,000 hours to projects serving our local communities. Volunteerism at a national and local level is at the core of of our CSR program! Through our efforts in cities across the United States and Canada, we impacted 350,000 lives!

In addition to volunteerism, our signature initiative rolled out in early 2014. This flagship North America program aims to build the STEM talent pipeline for high school students and develop the next generation of talent. BTECH opened its doors in September of 2014, with our STEM Academy in partnership with the British Columbia Institute of Technology and Templeton high school following suit shorty after.

To view a complete list of The Civic 50 companies for 2014 and to learn more about the importance of civic engagement in corporate America, please visit www.Civic50.org

Click here for the full SAP press release!



According to the results of the People Survey 2013, 89% of
SAP employees agree that it is important for SAP to pursue sustainability. 68%
say they actively contribute and integrate sustainability into their daily
work. In Product Support, we have an even higher figure of 92% (agree the
importance) and 77% (actively contribute).



Many of you might also notice that you are already helping
to create positive social, environmental and economic impact. For this, SAP
wants to say thank you. Thank you
for contributing to sustainability and for helping the world run better and
improving people’s lives.



You are invited to
share your personal experience about how you integrate your daily work to
sustainability via joining the “thank you” campaign and you may win a prize.



Your are invited to join and



- Explore and get inspired by
personal stories of your peers



- Share your story with colleagues
all over the world by participating in a video & photo contest



- “Like" your favorite story



  • Win great prizes



Visit the Video &
Photo Contest Guidelines
for more contest details.



You will not only get recognition from your peers and SAP,
but will also have a chance to win a day driving a fancy e-car such as Tesla (or equivalent
electric vehicle as available through SAP‘s local rental car provider) and
experience exciting sustainable mobility innovation! Alternatively you may
choose to do good to yourself - through a 500€ subsidy to your next bicycle
or good for your community – with a donation of 500€ to a local
. The video or
photo with the highest number of “likes” wins.



Here I also shared my
personal story
from my recent participation to the SAP Social Sabbatical
program as one of the examples and you can see all examples here.



Visit the quicklink /go/thankyou
on the SAP corporate portal and be part !



Even today,  the Environment, Health and Safety (EHS) business function is sometimes viewed as more of a “necessary evil” that drains the bottom line than as a value-add to the business.   But this view has undergone a transformation in recent years, especially in the asset intensive, higher risk industries like oil and gas, chemicals, mining, metals, and utilities.   


High profile industrial accidents such as the Deepwater Horizon environmental disaster, and the recent criminal indictment of former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship on three felony charges for willful disregard of workplace safety, have been a major factor in shifting how EHS is viewed from the board room on down.   Now more than ever, continuous improvement of EHS performance is considered as foundational to running a sustainable business.  It's not just about compliance and cutting costs anymore...safeguarding license to operate and brand, mitigating business risk, and driving operational excellence all part of the EHS equation.


The good news is that EHS awareness has been raised considerably at the executive level.  The not so good news is that there are some significant barriers when it comes to execution, with the prevalence of antiquated and inadequate EHS IT systems being a major cause.  According to research recently conducted by LNS Researchonly 32% of the organizations surveyed have implemented software systems to help manage EHS performance.  Indeed, EHS is one of the last business functions to implement process standardization, automation, and visibility – all dependent on adequate IT support.   



In its research, LNS examined the drivers and trends in the EHS software landscape, and identified best practice approaches that characterize leaders.  You can learn more about the research by joining LNS Research and Environmental Leader on December 3 at 2:00 pm EST for a free webcast, "Capturing the Business Value of EHS Software," which will give a deeper dive around the top drivers, objectives, and challenges affecting companies today with their EHS management programs, and how organizations are rising to the challenge by incorporating EHS initiatives into the larger spheres of sustainability and operational excellence.


This educational webinar promises to provide “state of the art” information on trends in the EHS space, and how you can take action to more effectively execute your company’s EHS management system.   It’s well worth attending, given that the long-term sustainable growth of your business may well depend on it!


Register here.

This week in San Francisco, I was lucky to attend several sessions at the Out & Equal Workplace Summit 2014, which convenes annually to “share strategies and best practices to create workplace equality, inclusive of all sexual orientations, gender identities, and expressions.”


My impressions after this summit are that more than ever, workplaces are driving social change and equality from the inside-out.


2002.jpgOut & Equal itself has been around for almost 20 years and has seen quite a lot of workplace changes in its time, none as sweeping as in the latter ten years. (See image to the right of the legal landscape in the US in 2002). These changes can be as complicated for businesses as they are far-reaching. As Out & Equal states, “It’s one thing for corporations to have a commitment to creating workplaces that are welcoming and supportive of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender employees. But it’s another thing to develop policies and programs that can lead to equitable work environments.”


What do we mean by equitable work environments? If you are not LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender) or working in corporate benefits, you may not have been aware of inequalities that have affected the workplace over the years.  Let’s take a quick look:


  • Until last year’s landmark Windsor decision in the US Supreme Court, even married same-gender couples were treated as single, legal strangers on federal forms, and hence taxed for the cost of insurance coverage for their spouses
  • Marriage is still illegal for same-gender couples in 19 US states, with rulings changing week-by-week at a cost of 1.3 billion annually to US businesses to navigate this patchwork in efforts to provide equitable benefits
  • To this day it is still legal to be fired for being gay in 29 US states; for being transgender in 34 states
  • For companies with global footprints, an equal benefits equation becomes even more complicated: It’s illegal to be gay in 78 countries, and five countries still execute gay people.


How exactly does this translate to transformation in the workplace? How have changes such as benefits equality and non-discrimination protections come about?  What should, and what can, the workplace do to help?


Thanks to over 3,000 attendees, many of the over 300 US corporate champions scoring 100% on the Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index, and many other organizations present, I learned more of the answers at this week’s summit.


HR, Benefits, and ERGs, Driving Change Hand-in-Hand


Leading the change are LGBT-related employee resource groups (ERGs) working together, often hand-in-hand, with corporate benefits organizations. (I’m happy to say we do this at SAP and have achieved 100% on the Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index this way, and if you’re in the Bay Area you can attend a session in-person to find out how).  If conference sessions are an indication, ERGs have become in fact so powerful in business transformation that there’s a movement underway to re-brand them to BRGs: Business Resource Groups.


Access to healthcare alone is a good way to raise the equality conversation, since most have it either through their work or their spouse, said Gautam Raghavan, Vice President of Policy, Gill Foundation, formerly the White House liaison to the LGBT community.


It turns out that benefits drive a lot of change in corporate equality.  Companies such as Thomson Reuters use leverage like threatening to change insurance vendors if their policies are not equal - even worldwide. They are also as far as they know first multinational to offer same-gender benefits in the Philippines, and one of a limited subset of companies doing the same in India, where the high court has turned the equality landscape murky by declaring being gay illegal.


It hasn’t been easy. Thomson Reuters benefits leaders continue to wrangle with insurance brokers in order to keep policies in place for LGBT colleagues in India. Livia Konkel, Senior Diversity Lead partnering on behalf of HR with Thomson Reuters’ Pride group, says to that end it has been helpful to distinguish the relationship from “the act:” “If you're giving a benefit to someone to cover a partner, it's not illegal.  What is illegal is the ‘homosexual act.’ A relationship is different from an act.”


The Complicated Patchwork of Marriage



As for the complicated patchwork of marriage in the United States alone, Brian Tiemann and Todd Soloman, associates at McDermott Will & Emery, delivered a legal seminar’s worth of information in a panel called Employee Benefits ... in a Post-Windsor World.  Below are just some of the mind-bending ways it costs businesses to sort through tangled marriage laws:


  • Marriage is legal in 33 states, but since Section 2 of DOMA is still in effect, no state has to recognize other states' same-gender marriages. If you're married in a state where same-gender marriage is legal but live in one of the states where it is not, you are still considered single under state law. Depending on where your company is based, do you offer unmarried partner benefits if same-gender couples can’t legally marry?
  • “State of Celebration” of the marriage can differ from “State of Residence,” and different jurisdictions may make cases for recognizing either one.  The Federal government takes “State of Celebration” to govern employee benefits issues.
  • As for retirement plans, a same-gender spouse is now default beneficiary if participant dies without naming beneficiary -- which is interesting, because in the past, same-gender couples have had to manually designate beneficiaries.  ERGs can be invaluable in reminding people to check their designated beneficiaries.
  • Retroactive survivor benefits is “probably the biggest issue facing retirement plans,” according to Tiemann and Soloman, for people who married or died prior to Windsor. Litigation based on these questions is in progress.  There isn't even a status code in system for those who couldn't legally marry before Windsor. "This is where ERGs become critical to help get the message out," said Tonya Wilkes-Moore of Darden Restaurants.
  • statetax.jpgBefore marriage was federally legal, companies used to address benefits inequality by implementing unmarried partner benefits. Now, do companies drop these benefits, or extend something like domestic partner benefits to all employees, whether in same-gender couples or not? Are domestic partner benefits even an equal alternative, because they require that you live with your partner (which is something that marriage does not require)?
  • Thanks to Windsor, regardless of whether marriage is legal in your particular state, benefits are pre-tax and not imputed -- however, in our 17 DOMA states, employers may still need to impute income for state tax purposes



In Pursuit of the Perfect Score: Corporate Equality Driven by the HRC CEI


The Human Rights Campaign's (HRC) Corporate Equality Index (CEI) has been an incredibly useful tool to help companies increase their workplace equality in pursuit of a perfect score on the CEI. Criteria continues to increase, with some the latest changes moving the needle on transgender healthcare coverage.


2016’s index will raise the bar even more, in the following areas:


  • Global workplace non-discrimination policy and/or code of conduct:
    Non-discrimination policy and/or codes of conduct prohibiting LGBT bias are consistent throughout the company, including outside the US (global)
  • Inclusive non-discrimination requirements for contractors and vendors:
    Supplier codes of conduct and/or non-discrimination policies should include LGBT (US only, tier-1 suppliers)
  • Corporate giving guidelines:
    Corporate philanthropic giving standards, institute model policies for credit (US only) - shall not give money to corporations that are openly hostile to LGBT people


coca-cola.jpgSome examples set by top-rated companies were provided by Deena Fidas, Director, Workplace Equality Programs at HRC. AT&T's supplier standards, for example, go above and beyond CEI expectations, expecting suppliers to “treat all employees with respect and dignity" with call-outs not only for sexual orientation, gender identity but also for metrics like caste.


Most businesses (66%) headquartered in the US have a global footprint.  Many have a footprint in places that criminalize same-gender activity. Global codes of conduct can help greatly, said Fidas.  See the image to the right for a callout from Coca-Cola's Global Mutual Respect Policy.


Citi's Code of Conduct is so extensive that even visitors to the company are expected to comply with (and are protected by) non-discrimination policies.


Workplace Equality Driving Change for Straight Couples


In addition to the question of unmarried partner benefits, evolutions in workplace equality for same-gender couples also seems to be creating a tipping point in driving plan changes for straight couples. Adoption coverage, surrogacy, fertility benefits, and maternity and paternity leave are some of the trending benefits topics that can apply on both sides.


James Sumortin, Global Benefits Program Manager at Twitter, says surrogacy for opposite-gender as well as same-gender couples is a hot topic at Twitter. Now that other companies are announcing the benefit of freezing of eggs, the conversation is raised more.


As for parental leave, Twitter is one of the many companies now using the “use as you need” approach to vacation time, but you are not allowed to use this towards parental leave. This together with equal access to leave for both same-gender and opposite-gender couples may have led to an expansion in their parental leave, now at 20 weeks maternity leave and 10 weeks paternity leave.


Changes in Technology


Corporations also lead the way because corporations make technology, such as software.  Panelists mentioned the idea of a “gender audit” where we can take a look at all the touch-points where people are asked their gender, including in the hallways and, yes, in the software we create.


The “5-9:” Beyond the “9-5”


In the end, what matters at work matters beyond work, and vice-versa. As Deena Fidas said: “Business has a vested interest not just in 9-5 but in 5-9. Where do kids go to school? Where do spouses work?...”


I like to think Eleanor Roosevelt put it best:


“Where, after all, do universal human rights begin? In small places, close to home – so close and so small that they cannot be seen on any maps of the world. Yet they are the world of the individual person; the neighborhood he lives in; the school or college he attends; the factory, farm or office where he works. Such are the places where every man, woman and child seeks equal justice, equal opportunity, equal dignity without discrimination. Unless these rights have meaning there, they have little meaning anywhere. Without concerned citizen action to uphold them close to home, we shall look in vain for progress in the larger world.”


As Out & Equal founder Selise Berry said during the opening of the summit, "The world is a better place for all of you who show up to work every day."  Thank you for showing up and being the change.

Ariel Chiong

Glad to pitch in

Posted by Ariel Chiong Oct 31, 2014

A colleague from Bangalore visited our Dublin, CA office and saw racks of clothes in a section of the hallway. He was wondering why they are there, are they for sale? I told him we are collecting clothes as part of “Wardrobe for opportunity”. They are donations for people who can’t afford professional clothing when going for a job interview. I also told him, we also address more basic needs.


America, the land of plenty, it’s hard to believe that millions of people still go hungry. But it’s true, right here in San Francisco, Silicon Valley, under the shadow of multi-billion dollar companies, live people who are struggling, the homeless, the low income, the working poor. 


Coinciding with SAP’s Month of Service, a group of us from Labs IT picked the theme to end hunger. We volunteered to work in the “Second Harvest Food Bank”.  SAP “Month of Service” started out as a challenge from our customer – Home Depot, asking their suppliers to provide community service, SAP answered the call, and we’ve been doing this for 10 years now.


The food bank distributes more than one million pounds of nutritious food each week to low-income people in need in every zip code in the
bay area. They efficiently distribute food by collaborating with a network of more than 330 partner non-profit agencies operating 770 different food distribution sites.


It is run like a logistics enterprise, food donations are collected, stored in warehouses, sorted for content, repackage into small units and distributed to agencies that provide direct services to the people in need. These agencies include homeless shelters, pantries, soup kitchens, children's programs, senior meal sites, and residential programs.


We sorted food into food groups, protein (like canned fish), vegetables, fruits, grains, cereal, even snacks. They are packaged into boxes, where the agencies for example, a soup kitchen, can order exact number of boxes of canned fruit depending on the need.

photo 2.JPG

Throughout the year, volunteers contributed more than 316,000 hours of service, which saved the food bank $6.6 million in equivalent personnel costs. We’re glad we contributed in our small way, and we had fun doing it.

Two weeks have passed and we are in the middle of our Social Sabbatical program. So much has happened that I wanted to share with you since the last time I did a blog about the Cape Town Protea team and projects introduction.


What we have been working on with our client, IkamvaYouth:


We have performed a deep analysis and had many discussions with our client, IkamvaYouth, in order to understand the activities the organization is doing and their expectation on the deliverables from us so that we can better build on their resource hub.


One of the most effective steps we have taken is that we held a Design Thinking workshop last week with the key audience of the website, such as their partners, staff, the communication coordinator and the organization’s director. This is an effective method to analyze the different user experience requirements, what types of audience they have, what are their pain points, needs, ideas to solve these needs and what is the possible solution space. It is a great experience and hard work is continuing among our IkamvaYouth SAP workgroup to further build our recommended content to their resource hub as well as the redesign of the architecture, layout and so on.


What we have learned so far:


The Social Sabbatical provides many different learning opportunities. When we create the website implementation and go-to marketing strategy, we need to put ourselves in the shoes of different types of key audiences of the website. We also need to think about it from an entrepreneur’s perspective (e.g. be the director of the NPO organization) and how can this contribute to IkamvaYouth 2030 vision.


Brainstorming among the Protea team, consulting with GTM experts from the SAP Social Sabbatical alumni network, researching and studying are the key steps. Last but not least, generating ideas from the DT workshop with the Ikamvanites is a great way to get insights from our client.


Does the SAP social sabbatical have “sabbatical” elements too?


Yes, in addition to the hard work here, we do have a lot of Protea team building activities during the weekends to experience the local South African custom and beautiful scenery. See the pictures below.



The SAP Social Sabbatical Cape Town Protea team-creative way of self service


Design Thinking workshop with our client IkamvaYouth @ IY head office



SAP IkamvaYouth work group (Marise, Marc and Yolanda) @ Cape of the Good Hope



Conquer the table mountain with a few team members (climbed 2.5 hours). Thank you Claus and the other colleagues who encouraged me. Without your support, I couldn’t
make it.

(Carlos, Rene, Yolanda, Susan, Claus, Duncan)




IMG_2068_modified_2.jpgDay 14/28 of our Social Sabbatical journey in Bogotá, Colombia. 12 SAP colleagues forming unique group called Bogotá STARS, further divided into 4  customer teams.
Reflections on the experiences so far from the team Fundación Capital/LittleBigMoney, that is @ZhaoFaye(China), @UlfBrackmann (Germany) & @parkkonen_janne (Finland).

Social Sabbatical – now let’s slice and dice these words a bit. The assignment is very much social especially from two angles: our assignments are with great organizations that are having big social impact in Colombian society, and we surely are social within the 12 SAP colleagues who are privileged to be thrown to this 4 weeks’ challenge. Mentioning challenge actually leads nicely to (re)-defining Sabbatical in this case: it is true that we have sabbatical from our normal day to day jobs and daily routines, however our work here is rather far from sabbatical, quite much to the contrary. This we all expected and are up to the task!
Openness – Bogota STARs arrived on Oct 4 with an open mind and heart and were ready to experience IMG_2045_modified_2.jpgColombia. We experienced the sunshine right after the storm and tried the typical Colombian food. We were warmly welcomed by our clients and they openly shared every business challenge they have been facing. Indeed a great start of the journey!
Colombia is a great country that suffers from lots of unjustified stereotypes. We are impressed by the kindness, openness and cultural variety that Colombia has to offer. Food variety is amazing in Columbia especially with regards to all kinds of fresh fruits and fruit juices. You will find them everywhere and you will even fruits that you have never tasted before.
Integration - Project duration is only four weeks which requires fast integration into the customer team, the team of the Bogota STARS as well as our little SAP project team. We had never imagined that integration between so many cultures can happen as smooth as we had experienced. Being together and surrounded by so many great people makes the Social Sabbatical a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Acceleration (and very, very fast)– this is a good word for describing our first days and week of the IMG_2063_modified_2.jpgassignment with huge amount of learning of the client organizations and their stakeholders, getting to know the 11 other Bogota STAR team members and becoming an effective 3 member customer team.
LittleBigMoney – Our impressive customer. A project within Fundación Capital, LBM is Latin America’s first crowdfunding platform for small and growing businesses with social impact. Managed as a kind of start up by very competent and passionate people. Our tasks very briefly - support with service development for partners, address certain stakeholder management topics as well as provide general ideas and observations, all this keeping in mind sustainability and scalability targets of LBM.
Strategic assignments –  focus for each of our assignments are on achieving longer term strategic benefits for the customer organizations rather than solving or supporting with short term operational issues or hands on charity work. And that is indeed motivating!
Awesome experiences are part of the Social Sabbatical. Being in a new country with so many thing to explore, having a project with lots of IMG_2074_modified_2.jpgchallenges, being together with team members you have never met before but whom you will work together very closely during the assignment and seeing so
many new things is nothing else than – AWESOME
Bogotans’ politeness – it is everywhere you go, at workplace, cafes, supermarkets, you name it. It is really, really nice to get invited to customer's celebration of "Amor y Amistad" (Love and Friendship) over picnic lunch, or receive little surprise gifts like fruits and snacks. This patient politeness is especially present when someone communicates in Spanish like a three year old (i.e. Janne). Naturally one needs to understand where & when to go and not to go in order to stay experiencing the politeness and not some less favorable sides of any bigger city. We have, of course politely, been informed of those do’s & don’ts that are specific to Bogota.
Bars - Great Bars are available all over the place in Bogota. Small but very special places like the “Bogota Beer Company” in our neighborhood are part of the bar culture as well as places with good food, music and an awesome view over Bogota like the Centrico. These places are great to have very interesting talks with great colleagues from all over the world or simply to just have fun.
Amazon jungle – someone (starting with J…) in our 3-member team just would desire to go to jungle. And persuade the others to join, too. Well, not gonna happen due to time constraints, however he just cannot let it go, the rest 2 of us IMG_2086_modified_2.jpghear about it everyday!
Talent and skills based volunteering – This is not type of voluntary work you can normally imagine because we are actually leveraging our skills, experiences and talent to provide consulting on the strategic development of LittleBigMoney. You can easily help a child or donate money, but what we are doing here is to enable the social entrepreneurship development so that more poor people can get rid of poverty or have a better condition through starting up own business.
Internationality – 12 employees from Australia, China, Germany, India, Ireland, Finland, France, United States and Poland came to Colombia for the social sabbatical program and formed the Bogota STARs. The team nearly represents the world and how international it is!
Coffee – well, this must be mentioned at least once. And surprise, it is good. Just need to remember that when a waitress asks “tinto?” here it means a black coffee not a red wine like in IMG_2116_modified_2.jpgSpain.
Adventure - all in all the Social Sabbatical is a very special adventure. In addition to all assignment related adventures, we were literally facing some real adventures during our weekend trips. A boat ride in a rain storm in Cartagena and a taxi ride to Monserrate in a taxi without handles while the driver is driving like crazy, are just a few of them.
Little things can make people happy
– we did a field visit to see how PSF (an NGO) supported the people in San Cristobal (a southern district in Bogota) to build up gardens in the neighborhood. The smiling faces on the interviewed garden owners deeply impressed us when they talked about how the neighbors started to talk with each other and even shared the
harvest. Just 10 US dollars for a garden but what a great change it brought to the people!

Recently during our organzition level Technology day I heard an interesting abbreviation : SMAC (Social, Mobility, Analytics and Cloud).

We all are familiar with the component that form this buzzword.  Are there any real changes happening around us due to this SMAC influence.


The same speaker showed us an video and collected our poll and made us understand that how  people don't pay enough attention to what is happening around them, and that by paying more attention and 'expecting the unexpected,' we will be able to notice anything important




This thread made me seach more on SMAC.  


SMAC  has impact for sure. If we search recent periodials we could understand  how technology giant like SAP, Oracle, Microsoft, IBM, Facebook and many others are spending billions of dollars, acquiring companies or developing applications to address the demand for SMAC.


Lets equip ourselves to meet the demands of the hour and change our focus.

After several months of hard work and planning by SAP CSR & PYXERA Global, the SAP Social Sabbatical 2014, journey of “Team Protea” to Cape Town kicked off yesterday. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to turn SAP’s vision “help the world run better and improve people’s lives” into action from a social responsibility perspective, and I and the team will spend 4 weeks in Cape Town working on the volunteer activities.


A diverse team

In this Cape Town program, we have 12 people from 10 different countries, speaking 10 different languages, with different backgrounds and skills - a very diversified team and we are all from SAP. We are divided into 4 sub-teams to work with 4 different non-profit organizations. With our team motto of "a SAP world of helping Hands", the Team Protea uses its common energy and capabilities to create a desirable, feasible and viable outcome, which will be beneficial and sustainable for our clients to run a simple and better tomorrow.


After-school tutoring and mentorship

My client is IkamvaYouth (established in 2003), a Non-Profit-Organization (NPO) that provides a volunteer driven, low cost and highly effective model of after-school tutoring and mentorship in resource-poor communities in South Africa.


They have a resource hub which is the Ikamvanitezonea (established in 2010), containing information to run a tutoring program and the other programs like career guidance and mentoring, health and life skills, computer literacy, winter schools and so on. The objective of our assignment is to analyze their user experience requirements, re-design the architecture and content layout, develop a concise methodology of initial and on-going content sourcing and development, provide a strategic input on marketing as well as a staff and user introduction training plan and roll-out plan to their zone.


Getting started

Today, we met with our client IkamvaYouth and visited their branch offices, we had a lot of discussions on the scope of the work, understanding their daily business and requirements via hands-on experience, and it is a great start.


This is totally a different job from my current daily work at SAP and I am prepared to blend myself into this “unknown zone”, conquer any difficulties and try my best to contribute, together with the team.


You can follow us on http://proteacapetown.weebly.com/ and get to know about work and lives in Cape Town.



Team Protea @ the kickoff meeting (Marc, Carlos, Marise, Jochen, Sebastian, Claus, Duncan, Rene, Susan, Dobrinka, Asha and Yolanda)


Original post: SAP Product Support Jam on Oct 13

Last week we saw an interesting headline in the news. CGF (Consumer Goods Forum) and TSC (The Sustainability Consortium) accelerated their partnership with the goal '.....to end deforestation'. The membership of both organizations (~500 members) total a revenue stream of roughly $6 trillion. So there is some weight behind.

CFG committed to '....help achieve zero net deforestation by 2020' focusing on key commodities responsible: soy, beef, palm oil, paper and pulp. Both organizations partnered up already back in 2012, but now plan to bring the partnership to a new level.


The idea is to leverage TSC's updated version of toolkits as a solution for CFG. Part of the new toolkits is a applicable KPI set for tracking land transformation and deforestation.

SAP is involved because our partner TSC is using the SAP PSN platform for hosting the TSC toolkits. Walmart is already using it to 'assess' their suppliers.

But with the inclusion of these new kind of KPI sets that also incorporates RSPO and FSC certification aspects (among others), the assessment of suppliers based on their KPI responses takes a new dimension.


Read more here.


A few 'Deforestation' facts from the web:

  • The world has lost already 50% or 75 million acres of it’s temperate rainforest
  • Deforestation causes the loss of over 137 plant, animal and insect species per day. That is over 50,000 species per year
  • Some 46-58 thousand square miles of forest are lost each year—equivalent to 36 football fields every minute.
  • Each year, the world produces more than 300 million tons of paper (= 4 billion trees)
  • Each year, the US alone generates 2.3 tons of CO2. A healthy tree stores about 13 pounds of CO2 annually



The Internet of Things booth at the SAPHIRE conference had a very interactive display. The Internet of Things links an actual object the internet. Theses objects are connected to the internet to collect data so that your company can preform many things with that information. The booth at the conference had a demo crane demonstrating that the use of sensors can predict an accident before it happens. The cranes sensors will actually stop the crane before it collides into a building or another construction crane. The sensors are connected to the internet.  Around the clock data is collected.  The data predicts things such as how near accidents have happened, how fast the crane operators are moving the crane and much more. All the data is collected is sent to the head office and they can make changes to their operations in real time.



   This type of technology is actually important to have to predict future accidents to measure the safety  and so much more. One of the most interesting aspects of the Internet of Things is that many of its products can personalize the customer experience. SAP has started putting the same technology in simple things like vending machines. These vending machines personalize your shopping experience. They offer you choices only you as a shopper would like. The machine recognizes you when you hold up your device and it will remember what type of pop or chips you like. It just makes the whole experience for the customer better. For the company selling these products the vending machines collect data on the most popular products that they are selling all other types of statistics. The machines also will report to you in real time which location has the highest foot traffic and which machines sell out the fastest.


Overall the Internet of Things is about is data-driven intelligence. It helps you measure how successful your product or operation is. This world will just get more controlled by technology. Marshall McLuhan said “ First we shape our tools and then our tools shapes us.” Now SAP is shaping our tools to benefit our overall quality of life. A simple thing like analytics and apps can help businesses and individuals measure their success in real time so they can better themselves or their business. Soon everything will be attached to the Internet of Things. It used to be a scary thought but now people at SAP are taking the Internet and using it to make the world a more productive accessible place.

As part of our Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiative, SAP formally recognizes and honors outstanding employees whose contributions and efforts have a positive impact on SAP, fellow employees and our community. Wayne Pau, Development Architect, and Pamela Seplow, Global Head of Talent Management, have been chosen as our Second Quarter Volunteer Ambassador winners from Canada and the US respectively for their contribution, dedication and service to our CSR programs. 


Second Quarter Volunteer Ambassador Winners


Wayne Pau was pivotal in rallying volunteers to participate in the Titan Challenge with Junior Achievement of Central Ontario. The JA Titan program is an interactive online business simulation that offers a unique way for young people to learn what it takes to compete in the marketplace and to run a successful business. JA students spend the day using Junior Achievement's Titan simulation program to make key decisions while managing and operating their own virtual business.


Wayne and the SAP volunteers delivered workshops and coached more than 350 high school students through the dynamic changes of our technology-driven global marketplace. Students planned and executed each aspect of a company’s strategy, including making critical product and capital investment decisions, systematically solving marketing and pricing challenges, optimizing R&D, and demonstrating corporate responsibility with charitable giving. Altogether, Titan volunteers contributed over 100 skills based volunteer hours!


From the very beginning of North America’s signature education initiative, BTECH, Pam Seplow has been one of its biggest champions. The journey of creating a signature CSR initiative began in an effort to address the increasing shortage of young adults entering into the technology workforce. BTECH is a 9-14 school where students receive both a high school diploma and Associate’s Degree at no cost upon graduation.  Students at BTECH will each be paired with SAP mentors to help them stay focused on their education and understand what kinds of careers are available in IT. Pam provided her expertise, experience and skills from Talent Management to BTECH’s mentoring program. Her knowledge has helped to develop the onsite and virtual mentoring platform that will be rolled out across North America, which is a first of its kind, not only for SAP CSR, but also for student mentoring programs in general as NYC educators and national nonprofits in the space look to learn from the SAP model Pam created to apply for their initiatives


Pam has consistently followed through with action items and follows up from meetings and has been an invaluable resource, granting constructive feedback in the interest of providing the most value for our signature initiative.  Becky Hamilton, Enterprise Support Advisor and CSR Fellow, states “I truly felt honored to work with such a dedicated, supportive and enthusiastic colleague. The mentoring program would not be what it is today with her!”


We would like to recognize these volunteers for their exemplary overall approach to global corporate volunteering. They understand global issues and local realities; and, selflessly champion causes to help others.  The generosity they show with their time and talents bring light and life to many incredibly charitable and community endeavors. Congratulations to Wayne and Pamela!


If you want to kick start your volunteering adventure, have a look around our website to see if there's a project that suits you! Want to nominate a volunteer ambassador in your area? Send an email to csr.na@sap.com


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