1 2 3 17 Previous Next


255 Posts

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

The world is changing, and along with it the young generation of graduates are eager to be brought into the fold of the workforce. However, individuals like myself, educated from head to toe with diplomas, degrees and debt to show for it are faced with a problem.

On many job applications and postings under qualifications there is a redundant request "Applicant must have 5-7 years experience in the field". Many graduates look at this and persevere by submitting their names for consideration anyways. A few may get lucky but for many they're faced with the conundrum of requiring experience to get experience.

For my own personal journey, I have encountered the neverending road block of the experience monster far too often. I graduated from journalism and searched high and low, applied for almost a year before I had to take a job less geared towards my diploma and start paying debt. I currently work at Michaels, the craft store at a branch in Whitby, Ontario, Canada. While the job has opened doors to skills I didn't know I possessed such as: Customer service, quick thinking, improvisation and confidence. It hasn't reined in any passion or ambition to climb the company's career ladder. Not to be mistaken for bitterness, my lament on my current job situation generates a motivation in myself to seize on opportunity as it comes.What I have learned from Michaels is that I enjoy working with people, it's the personal connections that compel me to stay and keep the search for a long term career going. However, how do you know until you take a risk?

At Sapphire Now, all the components I value in a workplace were put on display for me and my head was spinning, almost unable to believe a workplace like this could exist, especially in a career path I always imagined as business first, people second. I would be lying if I didn't have this stereotype lingering in the back of my mind.

I have learned it's not about the perspective from the outside that matters with SAP, rather the perspective they incorporate to ensure optimum client, customer and employee satisfaction. Putting this all into a perspective myself and my fellow Millenium reporter Pauline could appreciate was Chris Rhame.

We were honoured with the opportunity to interview Chris and his charm and intelligence was only equaled by his kind nature. Speaking with Chris, was like finding a teacher or professor you greatly admired or spending time with a favourite cousin or big brother. Both while providing light-hearted atmospheres also granted those who listened to him key wisdom to success and enjoyment in life and a career.

What is most important from his story was the notion of Change, when this topic stuck in Chris's mind he recalled the words of his father  "In my mind I can do anything you can do"

Adaptation to the ever-evolving workplace is paramount to success not only to those whose presence in it are well established but also those who have only learned how deep and cold or hot the water might be as they prepare to dive into the job pool.

This has been my personal worry for a long time as I edged closer and closer to completion of my degree and for Chris to start in such a personal way and address fears I have before I even had a chance to admit it, made for a great impact on me.

Over the next forty minutes I gathered my own data (which I'm certain cloud had anyways). I learned SAP had been blessed with Chris's employment for fifteen years, and taken on a variety of roles: Basis consultant, sales, management, delivery; the list goes on.

Chris regaled us with an abridged biography of his time with SAP and he told us how during  sapphire 2010, it was suggested he go to Asia (As many exciting developments were taking place). He found they were looking for someone to run a start up for cusom development and he and his family spent 3 years in singapore. Chris told us he  wanted to keep this experience of change going so he decided in december to come to canada (having seen ice road truckers, he had an idea it would be cold...) they had landed during the polar vortex and intense ice storm of 2013.

Now Chris manages a portfolio called 'services' and how this works is the clients buy the software and Chris's department installs it. Across the portfolio there's a large involvement from many different areas.

Chris also spoke of Change management, which help customers anticipate changes that need to happen in their organization and what needs to happen going forward. It's truly refreshing to know that in every aspect of the job, for Chris and the entire SAP community is all about the human factor. "You're literally changing peoples jobs, which can be emotional and personal."

This can be the hardest part of the SAP process, SAP carries out the whole process right down to delivering he product with the salesman. Chris told us to “think of it as a big loop and SAP is right at the core, and that’s what services does our job is to deliver a positive outcome for our clients. Whether it’s a small or large component, as a software vendor we're responsible for the whole thing and the customer experience. The human component of it is most important”.

A large theme to Sapphire Now was the young professionals that were focused on. The first day of Sapphire was filled with inspirational stories of young innovators and as we sat there listening to them from the very people that generated these stories I wondered to myself, We see where they started and where they got to, but what does SAP offer to our generation to kick-start these innovations?

Chris certainly cleared up that question before I had the nerve to ask. “There’s a lot going on for young professionals” he began and from there we learned about the Mobility Design Centre in Waterloo. This design centre is utilized to develop apps which are innovated by students. Chris elaborated about SAP’s methodology called “design thinking”. SAP brings clients in and the students get to exercise their creativity.

SAP’s approach in many areas is a very fresh one and where students entering the workforce are concerned the process is organic. For example, the design centre is filled with students utilizing white boards and sticky notes to get ideas down as they begin to develop thoughts and innovations. Chris calls young peoples' perspectives "ideations" and he feels they aren't jaded by what hasn't worked in the past to put it eloquently Chris said "they're able to see the art of the possible."

SAP gives the opportunity to learn while you experience rather than requiring experience in order to have the opportunity. One of the apps heightens the shopping experience and makes it more efficient. As you shop the app checks off your list and also makes suggestions as you paruse the aisles.The students while having no retail training base their suggestions on being users and consumers. 

This is a company which recognizes and values the gifts of individuals of all skill and intellects, and manner of expertise. A prime focus for myself and my colleague as millenium reporters was to investigate interests such as opportunities for those with special needs or what I like to call different abilities. Part of this initiative to be an equal opportunity employer, SAP embraces the talents that autistic individuals bring to the challenges of software programs by developing a think tank. These kinds of centre's are set up across the globe and as Chris puts it "it is across the globe that we are, leveraging these gifts."

"perspectives are so important" these were again words of wisdom from Chris as our chat began to wind down and we learned a little bit more about his world. His family is his passion as he put it so it makes sense when his business values often are defined by that passion.  Chris talked about the value of youth perspectives on a personal level such as his children's uninhibited nature to engage with other kids of different cultures while he Rhame family lived in Asia.

Access to opportunity across the globe is more and more attainable with new technological progress and Chris admits "the world is shrinking". More importantly the capacity to engage with other cultures and countries is greater perhaps mores so in the hearts and minds of the generation making a steady pace behind mine. The Rhame children are a testament to that.

SAP did make great emphasis on the importance of simplicity. That is what Sapphire Now means to highlight, innovations on the basis of making life simpler more efficient but this is only obtained so long as those innovators are passionate about the experience not only for themselves but for the customers they're serving. The same can be said about finding a job "whether you're out looking for a job, look for a culture you're passionate about, something you're confident in"

I would tend to agree with Chris that confidence is a big factor in it but it is certainly a great help to encounter a company like SAP to make it easy to believe in. As Chris mentioned towards the end of our conversation, " people want to hear confidence from employers and want to see that you believe in what you're saying, its all about credibility and if you believe in its quite easy."

For this Millenium reporter, the belief is definitely there and SAP has made if more than easy. Experiencing Sapphire Now and the personal touch that Chris Rhame brought to the event for myself and others makes the journey of a career hunt less daunting and certainly amplifies the ambition. I am looking forward to seeing more from SAP and perhaps one day work with them in one capacity or another.

On July 7th, we had a visit from the Minister for Environment, Climate and Energy from the German state of Baden-Wuerttemberg, which is the home state of SAP’s headquarter.

After ending his visit at TESLA across the street and before proceeding to meet with Governor Jerry Brown, Mr. Untersteller and his delegation came to SAP Labs for an update on SAP and its sustainability strategy.


The group was very interested in SAP’s dual strategy (Exemplar and Enabler) in this space, and we discussed various aspects in detail. Raquel Fanucchi from our facilities group ended the visits by giving a campus tour.


Because of their high interest level and the shortness of time, I was invited to re-join at the German consulate the next evening to continue the discussion.


For me personally it was very interesting to learn that my ‘old’ home state clearly has a leadership role when it comes to sustainability, similar to California leading in US.

Baden-Wuerttemberg has very ambitious CO2 reduction targets, and plans to raise the amount of renewable energy resources from currently 22.9% to 38% in the next 6 years. Next to abandoning nuclear power altogether by 2022. And for the first time ever in Germany, production of renewables (81 terra watt hours) overtook production of coal energy (69,7 terra watt hours) in the first half of 2014.


Go California – show them how to deploy electric vehicles and related infrastructure on a high scale.

Go Baden-Wuerttemberg - show us how to deploy solar on a massive scale.

photo 1_2.png

AboutFace is a support and information network for people with facial differences and their families. SAP is a sponsor of AboutFace. AboutFace now has a new member, Chrise Rhame on the board of directors.  Chris was very interesting person to meet; one of my favourite interviews. Chris Rhame is the Vice-President of SAP in Toronto, Canada. He is a very charming and interesting man.


As an interviewer, I was very nervous. When you interview an important business person it can be quite intimidating.  When I walked in the door Chris quickly put me at ease; he was the friendliest and kindest person and very easy to talk to. Chris’s personality conveys the way he conducts business. He cares more about the way a person thinks. In the middle of our conversation he stopped and said, “Oh, you are left handed!” He likes people who are different and who think creatively.


Creative and different thinkers open a whole window of opportunities. People who are autistic, for example look at the world in a completely different way. This is similar with people who are non-verbal, or with people like myself who have a facial difference.  People with significant psychical and mental differences always have to adapt in order to be successful in today’s society.  They are used to doing things differently and have a totally different perspective on many things.


My facial difference is a Cleft Lip and a Cleft Palate. The word cleft means a split. So that means I was born with a split in my upper lip and in the roof of my mouth. This Cleft Lip and Cleft Palate affects my breathing, speech, running abilities and more. In order for me to work, communicate with others and be successful in life I needed to adapt. I needed to gain tools and strategies so I could improve my speech, run better and breathe differently.  I have been through countless surgeries to assist the functionality of my body. Since I am used to adapting to be successful in today’s society I bring my knowledge to others.


AboutFace has been a big part of my life and a big tool to help me achieve many great things in my life. When you have a significant difference that many others in the world don’t have, you tend to feel negative towards yourself. For some people they feel like they don’t have great abilities or a great drive to pursue their dreams because the world looks at them and says, “No” or, “I’m sorry we can’t help you.”  AboutFace runs programs for affected individuals. They run Camp Trailblazers and annual camps across Canada for affected youth, ages 10-18. The Leadership Expedition for ages 18-24 and the adult retreat ages 22 plus. They also have many programs such as family days and conference call programs for people who can’t afford to attend camp.


The camp program really helps to builds a camper’s self-esteem. They are able to share stories and voice their concerns without feeling judged. AboutFace offers a safe environment for kids with Facial differences to just to be kids.  I have had the pleasure of being a camper at each of the three levels of camps that AboutFace offers.  One of the many things that AboutFace has taught me was that you are special just the way you are, and there is a reason that you were born with a difference.


With the tools and knowledge I have gained with AboutFace, as well as my personal life experiences, I have been able to look at almost any situation and come up with a different solution on how to improve situations or eliminate problems. I work with people with special needs and the knowledge that I have been able to convey to them has proven to be helpful. Whenever I need to fix or address a situation I look at what my clients needs are. Similarly, that is how both SAP and AboutFace run their organizations.


It’s so important when addressing an individual or a single business and  determining what their needs are in order to make them successful. SAP does exactly that. We need to make the whole of society successful; not just bring people or businesses up to the bare minimum standard.  The importance of making everyone excel is vital in the business world.  In a world where people with facial differences and disabilities can be equal along with everyone else the whole world would benefit.  SAP has started creating the equal world by hiring autistic people because they think differently. If we hired all kinds of differently abled people we could use everyone’s skills for the benefit of all instead of saying, “Oh, sorry we can’t accommodate you.” Everyone has a purpose and SAP has realized that.

We're excited to present the results of our CSR grant program in 2013.  This was the first time we put together a comprehensive report to look at how our social investments were driving impact in employee engagement, volunteerism, creating jobs, getting kids ready for college or declaring majors in STEM.  Thank you to our grant partners who helped gather the information. We’re excited by the results, which you can see here: Sap na impact report 2013 results

Our 10 Year Anniversary for Month of Service


Throughout the month of October, SAP embarks on its signature corporate volunteer initiative – Month of Service.  This year, we are excited to celebrate the 10 year anniversary of this initiative and want to extend an invitation to all our partners to participate as we help the world run better and improve people’s lives through service.  We will feature a variety of volunteer projects held during workdays and weekends across the United States and Canada and look forward to making you a part of them.


During Month of Services, SAP provides a skilled and talented volunteer pool, as employees devote their personal and professional skills to particular community needs. The program offers direct cost savings for non-profits as they save recruiting and labor costs. It helps bring community needs into focus and creates quantifiable social impact. Anyone can give money to a cause. The real power of engagement comes by rolling up our sleeves for positive social change, whether by dedicating our time or our technology!


Volunteers can take part in virtual, team build, and skills-based volunteer experiences. Whether they are volunteering virtually, renovating schools, mentoring future leaders, or helping to improve the technology infrastructure for nonprofits, volunteers also benefit personally by meeting new people, networking and team building with SAP employees and other partners, learning or developing a skill, or helping to solve a social challenge.


As this year marks the 10th anniversary we are excited to make it a special one and you, our non-profit partners, will have a large part to play in that. For our new partners, the goal is to use this October as the launch pad to help build momentum for continual engagement throughout the rest of the year.  We will be reaching out to you within the next few weeks as we look to build out the volunteer project calendar. In the meantime, please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any ideas for volunteer opportunities.


Already in the works are two playground builds with KABOOM, one in the Philadelphia area and one in the Bay Area of California.  Some of the major cities Month of Service is executed in across North America include: Boston, New York City, Philadelphia, the Bay Area, Washington, D.C., Atlanta, Miami, Dallas, Chicago, Toronto, Vancouver, Montreal and Calgary among others. Every year more than 50% percent of our employees give back to their communities by participating in their respective cities. 


In 2013, over 318,000 lives were positively impacted through 322 volunteer projects! Month of Service is truly an accumulation of employee volunteering to inspire team building, volunteer leadership and positive social change in our communities. Furthermore it enables us to extend vision to help the world run better and improve people’s lives by offering a majority of projects to fit within key focus areas. Join us in celebrating a decade of volunteerism at SAP!

Our first SAP JAM donation in North America




Tyler Robinson, a teen and devoted fan of the Grammy winning Imagine Dragons, lost his battle with cancer at 16 years old. Together with his family, the band created The Tyler Robinson Foundation. Our collaboration with the foundation began at this year’s employee  FKOM (Field Kick off Meeting), SAP’s annual sales meeting, as we featured The Imagine Meeting, a draw for 10 people to meet the Imagine Dragons by making donations to the cause and automatically being entered in for a raffle. All the funds that were raised went directly to the foundation. SAP partner, Optimal Solutions generously matched SAP’s donation at the concert, effectively making this the largest grant the foundation has received to date! Check out TRF’s heartwarming thank you video to SAP and Optimal.


It is truly incredible to see how far our collaboration has come since our initial involvement less than 5 months ago. Our commitment to helping the foundation grow was never more apparent that at SAPPHIRE NOW in Orlando, FL.  We announced that the Tyler Robinson Foundation will receive the first ever SAP Jam donation in North America!  The foundation will receive an SAP JAM starter pack which will enable over 100 users both internal and external to collaborate. SAP will provide end user training on how to use the solution, and assistance with the set-up. The foundation will also have access to BizX, allowing them to use Jam on their mobile devices.


SAP Jam is a cloud tool that delivers social collaboration where you work. When musicians play together, a jam session highlights just how important improvisation and harmony are. When your employees work together, harmony and teamwork can be just as important. SAP Jam helps every business person bring everything together to help them get their work done. From across a company, you can use SAP Jam as an enterprise social networking tool that helps improve communication. You can better connect employees across different geographies, and enable them to find subject matter experts quickly and share best practices. And, you can empower employees to drive decision making by helping teams tame project chaos, build consensus, and make informed decisions.


Please take a few minutes to watch the ASUG Video interview from SAPPHIRE NOW with Jesse Robinson from the Tyler Robinson Foundation, Elliott Garofalo from NTT Data, the partner leading the implementation, Rodolpho Cardenuto, President of Global Partner Operations at SAP and Dave Hutchinson, SVP of Marketing for SAP Americas, sharing the story of our collaboration.  We look forward to continuing to work together by providing our technology to help families battle the unseen costs of childhood cancer. 


Filter Blog

By author:
By date:
By tag: