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Sustainability & CSR

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Hi everyone,


So, finally I am creating the blog entry to talk about my experience with EduBridge in Mumbai, India, during the month of April 2015 as part of SAP Social Sabbatical.


Who is EduBridge? is an organization that focuses on building employable skills in rural and semi-urban youth in India through quality training, and providing them with jobs and a livelihood upon training completion. Additionally, Edubridge trains college age youth to build employable skills and also provides corporate training to junior and mid-level staff at organizations and corporations all over the country.


EduBridge is an organization started by a group of Indian Institute of Management (IIM) alumni and professors in October 2009 and it is headquarted in Mumbai, India. It aims at furthering the government’s objective of developing employable skills among the youth and connecting them with job opportunities within Corporate India by connecting corporates with talent from semi-urban and rural areas and vice versa.


With this, it has partnered with and has been approved by the National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC), an entity setup under the Ministry of Finance, Government of India.


I will write more about EduBridge and their work later.


Corporate Social Responsibility at SAP and the Social Sabbatical program

But let's start from the beginning. What is the SAP Social Sabbatical? This program was launched in 2012, and it is "a unique short term assignment for SAP Top Talents who work in international, cross functional teams to solve business challenges for the entrepreneurial and education sector in emerging markets, while strengthening their leadership competencies, cross industry sector know-how and intercultural sensitivity". And I am using the " " because I am basically quoting the information from Alexandra van der Ploeg, from the Corporate Social Responsibility team at SAP, and in charge of the program management.


The vision of SAP is "Help the world run better and improve people's lives" and the Corporate Social Responsibility programs at SAP have the focus on equipping the world’s youth with skills to tackle society’s problems and thrive in the 21st century workforce. More specifically, with these two key areas:


- Building the capacity of innovative social enterprises that put young people on the path to successful (IT) careers

- Building a skilled workforce for the IT sector with training and workforce development programs


Back to the SAP Social Sabbatical, since this is getting very generic.Why did I end up in Mumbai? Well, there were many different locations worldwide for the SAP Social Sabbatical in 2014 / 2015. But given my many years working with customers, parters and colleagues from India, I thought it was time to get to know this country from a different perspective. So I was really lucky to be selected to be here!



Why EduBridge?


Well, now we also need a bit more of background on the selection of the different projects.



Corporate Pro Bono programs and Global Engagement


In every location, SAP generally chooses 4 different projects for the enagement. This selection is performed by three main players: (1) the globlal team of SAP CSR, to ensure the adherence to the program priorities and strategic goals, (2) the local SAP CSR team, who know the situation in the country at best and (3) Pyxera Global, organization that is now celebrating 25 years of global engagement all over the world and SAP is partnering with within their "pro bono" program.


Members of the different teams assessed several companies and organizations in Mumbai, and four projects were selected.


Before moving forward, I would like to leave you with some interesting links that you might find interesting if you would like to go deeper in some of these topics:

- The growing popularity of pro bono, on how employees, non-profits and the enterprises benefit for this type of program.

- Article in the New Global Citizen from Deirdre White, CEO of PYXERA Global, in which I learnt about the wrong that can be done under the idea of "Development" and how important it is to have the focus on "Purposeful Global Engagement".

- Another interesting article on how Skill-Based Volunteering can works as an exceptional executive development program.

- Last but not least, a fantastic TED Talk from Ernesto Sirolli called "Want to help someone? Shut up and listen"... where you can learn how in the 70s, one of the best results of international development was (unplanned!) feeding of hippos, but not much more and the reasons why.


While reading some of these articles I could not help but remember some the words of Rafael Correa, the President of Ecuador, in an interview with the Spanish journalist Jordi Evole in his program "Salvados" in December 2014 regarding the support that Ecuador receives from multinational corporations and how (for example) painting schools might not be the best use of the volunteers time and resources, since you can find enough workers in Ecuador that could do this.



Why did I join for the SAP Social Sabbatical?


Now that we have gone this far about the SAP CSR, Social Sabbatical, Global Engagement... it is time to share: why did I want to join? Because I imagine you might be thinking "it sounds great, but I am not sure if I would away from home for a month for this type of engagement...".


Well, here is my reason: I am a guy who believes that the P&L should not be the only motivation for a company to exist, neither should one get up every morning to go to work thinking only of their salary and bonus. In my opinion, it is everyone's responsability (companies of all sizes, governements of all levels, volunteers.... in general, people!) to help make the world become a better place.


So, along with my professional career, I have always been working in the areas of Diversity and CSR in different forms. Here are some examples:


- Working in the area of LGBT Diversity (for Lesbians, Gays, Bisexual and Transgender) since 2004! Some recent examples to highlight were "It Gets Better" global initiative from SAP in 2012, working with several German NGOs and my participation in an event hosted by the IE Business School in Madrid in 2014, joinlty with the US Ambassador to Spain.

- Being a volunteer manager for the Human Rights Conference of the World Outgames 2009 in Copenhagen.

- Being a mentor of a social start-up in Berlin as part of the Social Impact Lab program, sponsored by SAP, in 2013.

- Participating in the delivery of the "Increase your employability with SAP" program with the partner "Fundación Tomillo" in Madrid in 2014, to help unemployed people (big issue in the Spanish economy) rejoin the workforce with updated SAP skills, complementing their education and/or work experience.

I guess the combination of this type of experience, togehter with my international work experience in the area of consulting in different companies and countries (see my LinkedIn profile if interested), is what got the colleauges in Corporate Social Responsibility to accept my application.


As part of my cover letter introducing myself to the potential projects I wrote: "If you were to ask me about my preferred assignment, I would say working with an organization that focusses on integration of social minorities with activities related to education and training, communications and / or business planning and management."


And EduBridge could not have been a better match!


To be continued... with more information on EduBridge, the vocational training in India and my experience!



Ferose V R

The Temple For Autism

Posted by Ferose V R Apr 3, 2015

In any religion, you go to a temple or shrine to search for answers, to pray for peace and joy, and to share your innermost feelings. I never thought my association with Temple Grandin would literally take the form of a pilgrimage taken to find answers. Allow me to explain.

After my son was diagnosed with Autism, I travelled across the world meeting doctors, therapists, researchers and leaders in the field of Autism. While I had heard about Temple Grandin and had seen her TED Talk, it wasn’t until I watched her HBO movie that my eyes were truly opened, and I was convinced I wanted to meet her in person. After setting up a lunch appointment (thanks to Thorkil Sonne – founder of Specialisterne), I took a 36-hour journey from Bangalore to Colorado – for a 2-hour lunch meeting. This time I spent with Temple, in a simple restaurant talking for 2-hours, was the best education I could have ever received in the field of Autism. In this moment, I actually managed to get a peek into "The Autistic Brain." This was two years ago, and I have kept in touch with her since. I keep her updated with the SAP Autism at Work project, and she provides me with an abundance of invaluable guidance. I often quote her in my speeches, and there is one in particular that stands out to me. "The world needs all kinds of minds," says Temple. This is the message I want to convey in my work at SAP. In business, we need all kinds of minds in order to innovate and create the change the world needs. That is where my passion lies, in trying to create opportunities and openness at SAP, to welcome diversity, and most importantly, find a place where employees on the spectrum can succeed – just as Temple has done in her career.


Now, I am thrilled to have an opportunity to share the temple of knowledge and thought leadership that Temple Grandin provides. On Monday April 6, I am overjoyed to be hosting Temple Grandin at SAP Silicon Valley. I encourage all employees to take this fantastic opportunity, listen to her inspiring story, and learn from her as I have done and continue to do. I look forward to seeing you all in attendance!


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It’s an all-time record: More than 475 000 traffic jams clogged German roads in the last year according to statistics by the German automobile club ADAC. This does not only affect drivers’ individual well-being and the environment, but also national economies. Experts are therefore seeking for alternative concepts to improve the flow of traffic, and they are currently setting high hopes on connected and driverless cars. But a quick and simple solution is already at hand: carpooling.


A typical German driver spends a total of 38 hours a year sitting idle in traffic. The commute to work alone accounts for most of the delays. The reason for that is simple: Two thirds of commuters travel to work by car – and they usually do so alone. In fact, the average number of passengers is only 1.1 per vehicle, according to a study published by the German Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure in 2009.


To make matters worse, the number of commuters is continuing to grow. Today, 60 percent of employees travel across municipal borders to their workplace – that is, 17 million people in Germany. Between 2004 and 2012 alone, the number of commuters rose by 11 percent. That said, it is no surprise that the country's infrastructure is lagging behind.


2 Passengers per Car: Problem Solved

In the long run, traffic-jammed German cities like Stuttgart are planning to improve infrastructure by investing in additional bike paths and public transportation. But such comprehensive changes are cumbersome and might take decades before being finally put into practice.


Yet, everyone can do their share already to prevent traffic congestions from building up in the first place. The solution is simple and low-cost: carpooling. If vehicles only averaged 2 passengers per car instead of the current 1.1, traffic jams would be a thing of the past, according to experts.


In fact, the ridesharing app TwoGo was born from a similar idea. In 2010, Jens and David, the developers of TwoGo, wanted to bring together colleagues with similar routes to and from work. Instead of wasting time on congested roads their colleagues should have the opportunity to actively reduce their travel time – simply by teaming up.


Keeping the traffic moving cuts down on pollution, makes people happy and saves money

A relaxed and jam-free journey to work is not only good for the environment. It’s also beneficial to our health: for the shorter the commute to work is, the more relaxed and content drivers are on average. And it’s good for the economy and our wallets too.


In the 22 biggest German cities alone, congestions cost taxpayers an additional 7.5 billion Euros every year, due to extra fuel costs, the working hours lost in traffic and other indirect costs – those are costs which are caused by delayed truck transports, for instance, and are passed on to consumers via increased grocery prices. These overall costs amount to 509 Euro per annum and household.


Stay Flexible, Use TwoGo

So congestion-free roads have numerous advantages. Why do so many commuter still prefer traveling on their own then? Flexibility, researchers say. Most commuters want to be able to change their plans on short notice, in the event that they have to work late or an unexpected meeting comes up.


This is why TwoGo makes ridesharing as fast and flexible as possible. Users who prefer planning their rides spontaneously or use the service only occasionally, can arrange single rides as needed, for example a day in advance. Those who would rather plan ahead can also arrange weekly rides. In case there’s an unexpected change of plans, users are of course always free to look for an alternative ride or fall back on their own car for a day. Just notify your fellow passengers ahead of time by giving them a call or contact them directly via app.


By the way: In addition to the free app – which is available to everyone – companies can also license an optimized version for their employees. This is for example a simple way for them to reduce the carbon footprint of their car fleet and to actively involve their employees in corporate sustainability efforts.

Shane O'Donnell

Keeping it real...

Posted by Shane O'Donnell Mar 30, 2015

I've always wanted to go to India. I'm not sure why exactly, but I've always been drawn to it. For decades, in my mind's eye, I've imagined India as a land of brilliant colors and ornate dress; deep, tropical forests; and wildly diverse, contemplative people. I've imagined it, too, as a place filled with wondrous plants and animals, where the scents of a rich culinary tradition fill the streets and market places, while hypnotic, purling music provides a mesmerizing background soundtrack.


When I was younger, I read a lot. You know: classics like The Jungle Book, and Around the World in 80 Days. I can't be sure, but I think the stories of far-away, long-ago lands that we absorb as children stay with us throughout life. If you've always had an unexplained yearning to see a particular place, or to learn more about a specific time or era, I'm willing to bet that the seed was planted during the telling of a bedtime story when you were young. Most probably the lights would have been low; your bed would have been warm and safe. You would have listened to the dulcet tones of your mother, or your father, or perhaps a grandparent, as they told you time-honored tales that transported you to another world. This is the stuff of childhood for many of us. And it's magical.


I'm 32 years old now, and I've finally made it to India. I didn't make it here on my own. I've been sent here, to Mumbai, by SAP, a company that has changed my life since I joined it in 2012. It's provided me with a great job, fantastic opportunities to learn and grow, and even a new country for me to move to (the UAE). Because of this move, I was lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time to meet my wife. SAP has also given me - either directly or (more often) indirectly - opportunities to travel to places like Saudi Arabia, Oman, Polynesia, the Philippines and Germany. But something tells me that of all the places I've ever been to, Mumbai will be different. I'm here with 11 colleagues, not to attend a training course or to participate in a customer engagement activity, but to work on the ground for 30 days with some remarkable grass roots organizations. My challenge will be to help effect positive change in the lives of some of the poorest families in India. The key beneficiaries will be their children - children whose childhoods could not be more different from the one I enjoyed when I was their age. I was dreaming of an India that they would probably not recognize.    


I'll be blogging about my experiences for the next four weeks, providing more details in the days ahead. For now I'll just sign off by confirming that when SAP says it wants to make the world run better and help improve people's lives, it's not just an empty corporate slogan. It's really true. Search the web for "SAP Social Sabbatical" to see what I mean.

At SAP Diversity & inclusion is an integral part of our innovation agenda. We believe that diversity in our teams, play a crucial role in  delivering successful products in the market. As Diversity & Inclusion is a topic which needs broader understanding we planned to host a session where thought leaders in SAP ecosystem could come together and share our ideas and successful initiatives with each other. On March 12th 2015, during SAP TechEd, Bangalore, we hosted a network, Share and Learn session amongst thought leaders in the industry. Senior women leaders from our customer and partner networks were invited to be part of this session where ideas were shared with each other.

First in the agenda was the networking lunch, where participants got to know each other. After which the group of 16 were divided into 4 groups and each round table discussed on topics of Recruiting Talent, Retaining Talent, Career development and Women in Leadership roles. We had a charged up environment in the room and all participants were happy to share their experiences and successful initiatives in their respective companies.




Bhuvaneswar Naik (SAP), Uma Rani T M (SAP), Uma Maheswaran (SAP), Shraddhanjali Rao (SAP), Ramya Nagaraj (SAP), Meenakshi V (SAP), Radhika Madas (SAP), Mini Sarasamma (Nilgiris), Sheetal Pinjarkar (Deloitte), Navya Dayal (Allstate Solutions), Shilpa Mohanty (Novartis), Geetha Mohan (Cargill Business Services), Shivani Shetty (L&T), Sonali Nagle (L&T), Seema Seth (Zelalife), Pavithra KPM (Accenture) and Manisha Bhattacharya (Accenture) participated in the event. Summary of the presentations from each table is attached below.


Recruiting talent

Early talent recruitment group that is the campus hires and Lateral hires have different needs and challenges and so should be addressed separately. Challenges most companies face are that the ratio of available pool is less and sometimes family not prepared to send women to different cities. Initiatives that could help included

  • Having good sessions on existing company policies during recruitment
  • HR and Talent recruitment teams to be trained to make girls and parents comfortable about the company and its policies
  • Headcount replacement during maternity
  • Companies to voluntarily reach out after 2 years once a woman leaves the organization and onboard them without a formal interview

Retaining Talent

In this table the discussions revolved mostly around what the company can do and what should be self-driven by the women employees. The main challenges women face were linked to career breaks due to life events. Initiatives that could help included

  • Women to be given guidance to voluntarily look for positions,
  • Sensitize hiring managers to be unbiased when recruiting for roles that needs someone to work late night or in shifts to make sure that the decisions are unbiased
  • Organizations could support by creating and nurturing Networking groups, publishing stories about role models and inspiring stories, mentoring and buddy programs
  • Initiatives that could change the acceptance in society about women who take their career seriously which could involve CSR educational activities in the company
  • Include family support system in company initiatives, have activities that engage families, have family events
  • Companies to ensure salary parity for women at all levels

Career development

In this table the discussions were around, what women could do to propel their career. Self-driven initiatives that were discussed included,

  • Women have to decide whether they are looking for a job or a career, utilize the opportunities available in the organization
  • Be open about what you want and ask for them, also learn to say no
  • Give importance to your relationship with your peers and managers
  • Give importance to health
  • Provide opportunities that could help in building capabilities

Women in leadership

Here there was detailed discussions around initiatives companies could launch, which were,

  • Formal mentoring programs
  • Network and lunch events
  • Showcase more role models, both within and outside the organization
  • Help managers to articulate and establish flexible roles in the companies
  • Have formal trainings to develop core capabilities


Special thanks to Arvind Sharma (SAP) from PMCS and Vasanth Kumar (SAP) from COIL network for the support extended to make this event happen.


-- Thripthy, Shylaja, Santosh



On March 28, from 20.30h to 21.30h local time, more than 75 SAP locations will take part in the worldwide Earth Hour, the symbolic lights-off event organized annually by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF).

“Use your power to change climate change” is this year’s mantra of the worldwide Earth Hour, which aims to raise awareness about the environmental damage and the connected climate change. On March 28th on 20:30h local time, all lights will be shut off for one hour around the globe. This year, again, many SAP locations will be part of it!


Last year, sustainability champions from Canada, Germany, India, Spain, UK, Italy, Bulgaria, Dubai and the USA teamed up to organize the switch-off at sixteen SAP locations. Working closely together with their peers in Global Facility Management, as many lights as possible in the buildings, footpath and other SAP owned areas including the logos were shut down. “It is great to see so many joining in,” said Susanne, one of the initiators. Together with her fellow champions Volker and Urte, she convinced Walldorf to participate three years ago. Meanwhile, the global team has grown and many impressive pictures taken in (almost) complete darkness were shared.




Susanne and Volker, who coordinate the effort across locations, are excited: “It’s been really cool to see so many colleagues unite for a good cause. We really hope even more will join in this year.” 75 locations have already agreed to go completely dark for one hour. The champions know that one hour alone on a Saturday will not put a dent in SAP’s energy consumption which was 930 gigawatt hours (GWh) in 2014 (details accessible via the recently published Integrated Report). The team’s goal is mainly to raise awareness amongst SAP colleagues to save energy in the office and at home. Quite a few already look forward to switching off their private lights and TV at home or organizing their private Earth Hour celebration with candlelight, family and friends.


Watch the Official Earth Hour 2015 Video (2:30 Min):


Last week, on March 20, SAP released its integrated report for 2014, the third of its kind. As in the years before, it is setting out the financial and nonfinancial factors that influence its performance - but what makes it special is how it shows the connections between these factors.


As reported on SAP News, this year is the first time SAP has expressed in concrete monetary terms how changes in its employee engagement and employee health indexes affect its operating profit. Based on an internal model and various assumptions, the company has determined that its operating profit improves EUR35 million to EUR45 million when its employee engagement index rises one percentage point. For each percentage point in change in its business health culture index, the impact on operating profit is between EUR65 million and EUR75 million. The total number of key performance indicators (KPIs) with quantified financial impact has thus doubled, from two to four. SAP had already identified the gross effects for the employee retention and CO2 emissions KPIs in its two preceding integrated reports. Taking some year-on-year adjustments in the assumptions into account, a one percentage point change in employee retention impacts SAP’s operating profit by about  EUR40 million to EUR50 million. And for every percent of greenhouse gas emissions saved, SAP achieves a cost avoidance of around EUR4 million.


There’s a big difference in merely presuming a connection between our social and environmental performance and our operating profit and actually being able to quantify it,” said Luka Mucic, chief financial officer, SAP, who cites as an example the employee engagement index, which the company uses to measure the motivation and loyalty of employees. “Everyone agrees that companies with fully dedicated employees are more successful. But when you know that the two percent increase in our employee engagement index in 2014 translates into a gross profit increase of EUR70 million to EUR90 million, it’s a lot easier to convince your managers that employee engagement has to be given high priority.”


The internal models SAP uses for quantification take indirect effects in particular into account. Thus, the financial impact of a higher employee engagement index results, among other things, from the fact that dedicated employees are more innovative and absent from work fewer days. And because they are more loyal to the company, there is less missed revenue and less recruiting and training costs traditionally associated with higher fluctuation rates. Clearly, then, the various quantifications presented by SAP cannot simply be added up, because the different KPIs are closely linked and influence each other. The integrated report does not include assessment of the investments required to facilitate the change in non-financial factors. The financial effects described in the report therefore represent gross effects.


Increase in Business Health Culture Index Leads to Gross Effects of Roughly EUR200 Million

The business health culture index (BHCI) rose year-on-year from 67 percent to 70 percent. The impact of this change on SAP’s operating profit is between EUR195 million and EUR225 million. BHCI is an innovative measurement standard that provides information on the culture of organizational health at SAP. The index covers questions concerning how employees rate their personal well-being and the working conditions at SAP, including its leadership culture. SAP attributes the 3 percent increase over the previous year to more intensive leadership development efforts and the launch of the Employee Health Support Program, which, among other things, offers employees free health checks.


Top Marks for SAP in Employee Retention

In 2014, the employee retention rate at SAP worldwide was once again 93.5 percent. SAP does not seek a general retention rate of 100 percent, as it believes some turnover supports its ability to innovate.


SAP Reduces CO2 Emissions by Eight Percent

SAP’s greenhouse gas emissions in 2014 came in at 500 kilotons of CO2 compared to 545 kilotons the year before. This 45-kiloton reduction in its carbon footprint is primarily due to its switch to renewable energy sources, as the company has been powering all of its data centers and facilities with 100 percent renewable electricity since early 2014. In addition to environmental performance within the company itself, for the first time SAP was also able to report CO2 benefits resulting from its EUR3 million investment in the Livelihoods Fund, which uses the invested money to restore essential mangrove forests. In 2014, SAP-financed forests bound nearly 12,000 tons of CO2.


- See more at: http://www.news-sap.com/2014-integrated-report-sap-quantifies-social-environmental-performance/#sthash.DCyJKLcH.dpuf

“Are they here yet?  Are they here yet?” This question rang on repeat on the morning of Saturday, March 8th in the SAP South San Francisco office as excited volunteers waited for two buses filled with local high school students to descend on our offices. They were on their way to SAP to participate in a Youth Innovator Hackathon with the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship.



Students came from all backgrounds and six different high schools to participate. For many of them this was the first time they had been in a cutting edge tech company facility, they were snapping photos and talking about how much they want to work in a company like SAP. Throughout the day these students proved to be creative, driven and passionate despite the fact that most will be the first in their family to go to college. The diversity in the room was incredible, many students recently came to the US, some were from multi-generational homes and many were from families living below the poverty line.



We wanted this day to compliment the work that NFTE students are already doing in their classrooms. They are all in the process of creating businesses and developing business plans which they will take into competitions (competitions SAP supports in six US markets). However the goal of the day was to take that model and flip it - instead of coming up with a business idea, we wanted the students to identify a problem first…and then solve it with technology. This flip in entrepreneurial thinking is a big conceptual shift, to go from making money to making change. Throughout the day these students would wear a new hat, that of a Social  Entrepreneur.



The day was full of post-it notes, ideating and prototyping, sound familiar? You guessed it. These students were led through the design thinking process to develop their ideas. First students self-selected a topic: healthcare, education or environment. Then they were randomly put onto teams to develop the idea for an app to solve a problem related to the topic. Each team had a mentor, either from Stanford (MBA program or D School) or SAP. These mentors coached the students through the ideation process, and within an hour all 18 teams had the problem they were addressing, who their audience was and what the functionality of the app would be.  Ideas ranged from new commuter carpooling connections, to a healthy food delivery service which could be run out of corner stores, to an app which cuts through the noise of the scholarship search to match student’s scholarships with a profile they create. Each team pitched their idea to a pair of judges while their proud mentors watched. The two minute pitch had to address the following points: problem, solution, app functionality, target market, user acquisition strategy and a demo of the solution.





SAP volunteer ambassador and co-lead for Latinos@SAP, Alejandro Barajas, during a rare break said, “These kids are so passionate and smart, I can barely keep up! It’s exciting to be going through this process with them and watching them challenge themselves!” His team developed an app called Bagel, which helps keep high school students with diabetes more healthy and informed about their diagnosis. This stemmed from a student in the group who has multiple family members living with the disease.




Six teams pitched to the entire room of about 100 on-lookers. These students were inspired. They were empowered to solve real societal challenges and they were doing that. The excitement in the room when the winners were announced was insane. The winning team, Watir, created an app to educate consumers on water usage and encourage them to use it in an efficient and cost-effective way. Check out this 90 second video of the winning team being announced.‚Äč


When was the last time we saw that kind of energy in our offices, on our teams and in our professional lives? I say not often enough. The more we can collaborate with and bring students into our offices to share this energy, the better. Each ‘adult’ in the room was energized and inspired by the ideas these students have. If this is what the future holds, I say SAP should be doing all that we can to get them in our doors and exposed to us a company. It is with these students and young people that our future depends. And right now, I think, that’s a great place to be.

Having converted to 100% renewable energy in 2014, SAP plans to go even greener this year.


SAP, IKEA, and Nestlé were among the latest companies to become part the RE100 initiative. The signings were announced at the World Future Energy Summit in Abu Dhabi on January 19, 2015. The RE100 (RE = renewable energy) campaign was launched in September 2014 by The Climate Group, a non-profit organization whose goal is a prosperous, low carbon future. SAP had already announced its commitment to 100% renewable electricity in its data centers and facilities worldwide at the beginning of 2014.


According to Daniel Schmid, chief sustainability officer at SAP SE, shifting customer systems to SAP’s “green cloud” also effectively neutralizes customers’ CO2 emissions arising from the operation of SAP software in their data centers. “This [commitment to renewable power] has allowed SAP to expand its competitiveness in the cloud software market while further enhancing its sustainability leadership. We are happy to share our practical experience with global sustainability leaders as well as to discuss challenges and opportunities associated with renewable energy,” he says.


Jonas Dennler, SAP’s global environmental manager, confirms that SAP intends to increase its investment in renewable electricity in 2015. “Firstly, we’re extending that investment across all of our operations, including acquisitions, and in fact, have already been powering Concur with 100% renewable energy since the beginning of the year. Secondly, we’re currently rolling out a program that enables event organizers to run their events with green energy.”

The process is really quite simple and will already be used for CeBIT, as well as for all events at SAP Schweiz in 2015.


Extraordinary measures needed

The decision to invest in green energy goes hand-in-hand with SAP’s sustainability strategy. In concrete terms, the company’s goal is to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions from its operations to levels of the year 2000 by 2020. “These are very ambitious goals, which call for extraordinary measures,” Schmid points out. “Investing in renewable energy is one of those measures. Our mobility concept is another, exemplified by the launch of our e-car fleet.”

Participation in the RE100 initiative fits well with the 91% of SAP employees who recently said they want their company to pursue the issue of sustainability seriously.


It’s not just employees who demand this – other stakeholders, especially customers and investors, increasingly ask for proof points of our sustainability performance. Because just as SAP obliges its suppliers to adhere to the Supplier Code of Conduct when it comes to social and environmental aspects, so too are customers working at increasing sustainability in their supply chains. More and more customers have begun checking the efficiency of SAP’s sustainability activities by means of questionnaires and supplier assessments.


Investors are taking an increasingly sharper look as well, because using power from renewable energy sources isn’t just good for business, the economy, and the planet – according to a report published in September 2014 by the University of Oxford and the London-based asset management service Arabesque, it can also boost your performance on the capital markets. Eighty percent of the 200 studies they analyzed show that good sustainability practices positively influence stock prices.


Learn more


The environment.


Gun violence.


Issues of race and socioeconomics.


The future of personalized medicine.


Food safety.


Diversity in technology.


The 1200-strong women (and some men) at the second annual Lesbians Who Tech Summit (see my notes from last year's inaugural Summit) yesterday in San Francisco were unafraid to focus on the world's top problems.


lwt.jpgThe historic Castro Theatre was literally teeming with content on how we can use technology to solve these tough issues with sessions titles including:

  • How Badass Women Are Solving Tech’s Diversity Problem
  • Can Technology Solve Gun Violence?
  • Direct-to-Consumer Genetic Testing and the Future of Personalized Medicine
  • Breaking the Bro Code
  • How Technology Can Strengthen the Lives of LGBT People in Rural America
  • How Teaching Transgender Women Tech Skills is Saving Lives

… and much much more.


Two of the top keynotes not only helped to underscore these issues, but to remind us that -- as technologists -- and as wildly diverse humans -- the solutions are in our hands.


CTO of the USA and out lesbian Megan Smith joined Lesbians Who Tech founder Leanne Pittsford on stage to be awarded for her continued focus on helping America innovate with technology.  In her talk she shouted out to other government innovators such as Code for America's Jen Pahlka, and Hillary Hartley, Deputy Executive Director and Co-founder of 18F, who gave us a lesson on how healthcare.gov's challenges have turned into opportunities for progress.


In line the day's talks from other amazing people, Smith was highlighted as saying her top job is to "get out of the way" and let all these people with strong solutions and contributions just get the job done.


Salesforce chief Marc Benioff all but emplored us to do the same.  In conversation with Kara Swisher, he reminded us we live in a nirvana, and we're starting to remember to give back. "We have a history of stinginess, but companies have had a revelation. You can build more than just technology."


Asked what is the biggest thing technology should take on, he answered "One single thing technology should take on is the environment." Swisher and Benioff also tackled diversity in tech. "It's a crisis of prioritization," said Benioff. "It's more than just women 'leaning in.' Get back to the leaders and say 'you have to do this. You have to raise women up.'"


10868203_10152803868177545_2621870576507196273_n.jpgFor all the hard problems we still have to tackle, yesterday it seemed odd indeed to think that the diversity issue somehow continues to confound the tech industry. At an event like Lesbians Who Tech, surrounded by rampant diversity across every vector you can dream of, the solution quite literally is staring in our faces.


And – drumroll -- here it is: Said Allya Rahman of Code for Progress:

"One of the best ways to hire women and people of color is to just hire them."


Want to take it up another notch and hire the world's top innovators? Think of those you might be missing when you see only those who raise their hands for the job.  Look beyond your fringes to "hire those who have to innovate every day just to survive," in a nod to how trans people and people of color matter.


Entrepreneur pitch winner Stephanie Lampkin even had a tool at-the-ready in the form of a mobile job-matching app called Blendoor: "Diversity on Purpose."  It's about time.



So now you know. It’s in our hands. What are we waiting for?



Jorge Gonzales Jimenez has good reasons to smile again: Attending a SAP-training program landed him to a new job. And he is in good company; 78% of his fellow students who participated in SAP’s education initiative in Spain have also found new positions.


The situation in Spain is dramatic: Its 52% youth unemployment rate is the highest in the European Community. At the same time, companies in Spain desperately need skilled candidates for technology jobs.


Committed to equipping the world’s youth with the skills they need to thrive in the 21st century workforce, SAP’s CSR team – as well as dozens of committed employee volunteers –decided to confront this gap head-on. In June 2012, an education program was launched in partnership with Fundacion Tomillo.  It provides high quality technological training to young or long-term unemployed people – exactly the populations who have fewer possibilities to improve their employability. Since then, SAP volunteers and professional teachers have taught SAP ERP core business areas such as Finance and Controlling, as well as Sales, HCM, and Logistics. More than 300 skilled volunteer hours have been provided to 60 students so far.


Check out the following video to find more details about this initiative.


The commitment of SAP volunteers has been impressive and spanned the business – Training, Field Services, Active Global Support, Sustainability, CSR, Sales and Presales, and HR. Some of them have participated as instructors, while others helped with project coordination, program design and materials development to use during the course.


Core elements of the program have led to its extremely high success rates:

  • Courses led by professional teachers and SAP volunteers: The program has evolved from a pure volunteer program to a mixed initiative.
  • Strong focus on social skills in addition to SAP knowledge.
  • Follow up with successful job placements, measuring how social skills training helped the participant’s successfully apply for a new job

The program will continue in 2015 and while the team continues to make improvements to the initiative - the goal remains the same:  Improve on the great employment rate success to date, and help the training participants to re-join the labor market. These goals are great motivation for the entire team: Fundacion Tomillo, program participants and SAP employees!

Every now and then we run into a story like this, and we want to share it with others. Here is mine for today.


I had the chance to get introduced to Jonathan Tager (CEO of EPI-USE) yesterday. EPI-USE is close to 1000 people strong employee-owned SAP service partner operating in more than 13 countries.

Jonathan was born in South Africa, and took on the challenge to do something against the tragedy of Africa's illegal ivory trade through his companies ERP knowledge.



If you do not know whats going on currently in Southern Africa and why poaching peaked again fueled by Asia's ivory appetite, scroll down on their website. Africa is currently losing around 4 elephants per hour and 3 rhinos a day. Experts warn that if the rate of poaching continues, elephants could be wiped out in less than 100 years. Rhinos, on this planet since 60 million years already, are already critically endangered and disappeared already from a number of countries, with the strongest population remaining in South Africa.


Screen Shot 2015-02-19 at 7.50.35 PM.png

                                                       Picture 1: www.groupelephant.com


The approach of EPI-USE is rather unique. Rather than donating to charities, they take out a portion of the profits of their for-profit SAP business, and spread those profits across institutionalized not-for-profit capabilities focused on preservation and protection, and impact investment with companies focused on ecotourism asset management and wildlife-related property developments. The objective --> 'Beyond Corporate Purpose' !!


Screen Shot 2015-02-19 at 7.50.47 PM.png

Picture 2: EPI-USE's unconventional approach to philanthropic activity


After I talked to Jonathan on the phone, a few minutes later he shared the following story with me that came to his inbox from his network partners: (and I hope he is ok that I share it here somewhat anonymized):


Dear Johnathan


A frustrated mother elephant with a 10 month old calf , on Nkomazi Nature Reserve, was seemingly irritated when a tourist car with guide went to close to them and the mother overturned the car. No injuries to people of concern fortunately. The reserve management decided to shoot the mother and calf. It has been postponed and I plan to forward the following letter below to the XXX newspaper as their environmental reporter XXX reported the issue first over the weekend.

Do you feel I should proceed and send the letter below ?

Kind regards, XXX

Today (one day later) he shared this email with me from the same network partner:

Dear Jonathan and XXXXX,
Thank you for your shared concern for these animals. I have been informed
after the contact with the newspaper that they are very concerned about
negative publicity, decided not to kill the elephants and even moving them
would also give them the kind of exposure that are not overly keen about. I
plan to get in motion our original recommendations by discussing such with
them, which should lead to enlargement of the area where they are in now.
Their argument for keeping them on the smaller area of 5500ha was that the
tourist can then see them easier. Maybe good for tourists but not good for
the elephants.

Kind regards

2 elephants saved - and it gives you some insight how they work. I have the greatest respect for these folks, they are heroes.

The bad news - at least 4 more elephants died by the time I have finished and uploaded this blog post.

One week of the SAP Social Sabbatical is already over. 12 employees from 10 different countries are joining the SAP Social Sabbatical and build the Team Bogaz Delights.

This blog post should reflect on the first week within the subteam "Habitat".


Why do you participate in a SAP Social Sabbatical?


The SAP Social Sabbatical is a program of SAP CSR team (Corporate Social Responsibility) with the objective to support emerging countries in the area education and entrepreneurship. It gave me the unique opportunity to make a difference in the life of other people all over the world and in the same time develop my personal intercultural leadership skills when working in diverse teams.


What is your project about?

Foto 3.JPG

During my SAP Social Sabbatical in Istanbul, I am working for the non-profit-organization “Habitat Center for Development and Governance” which is an independent organization counting with 18 employees (http://habitatkalkinma.org/). They work closely with UNDP on youth related matters, with a focus on education and policy development. Habitat’s volunteer network is very strong and composed of youth councils, university clubs and local youth NGOs throughout Turkey. The volunteers were included in their strategy from the start.


Its main objectives are to:

  • Increase the power of young people for decision making and problem solving
  • Foster youth participation in all relevant areas for their lives


Our whole SAP Social Sabbatical teams consists of 12 team members, however in the Habitat team, I am working with:

  • Ana Paula Ebeling (Brasil)
  • Krishna Anantharajan (India)
  • Me, Sandra Steiger (Germany)


How can you change the world during the SAP Social Sabbatical?

Foto 2.JPG

Habitat is a 20 years old organization which has to react on changing political and social changes within the country. In the last years, Habitat was strongly project oriented helping with youth participation and knowledge transfer in the focus areas IT, finance and entrepreneurship. As a reaction to the changing world, we should help Habitat defining a long-term strategy for the next years to become more sustainable in the future. Now, at the end of the first week, we have already achieved a lot: After speaking to many different stakeholders and partners of Habitat, we could finally understand the organizations business model, and create a “Customer Information Sheet” which contains all the gathered information. This document is useful for Habitat as it structures the organization from an outside view to better understand the working model.


What was your best experience during the SAP Social Sabbatical?


My best experience was a trip to Bursa together with Habitat where we could attend a meeting with all stakeholders of the National Youth Parliament. Bazak, an employee of Habitat took us all the way with her private car to Bursa and we could stay with all the stakeholders for 2 days to understand Habitat’s work. I am very impressed by the hospitality, freakness and friendliness of the Turkish people. Not only at the customer site, even on the street, where people do not speak any English world, they are willing to help you finding the right direction to your hotel or answering other questions. The same for the staff of your hotel: We are living in a small hotel with only 13 rooms (so the hotel is only for us). The hotel staff is always available; bring you tee or even fruits or sweets when working a day in the hotel.


What was the biggest challenge during the SAP Social Sabbatical?

Foto 1.JPG

12 people from 10 countries is a cultural experience: This diversity I have never experienced before. Somehow, people have a similar way of thinking, working and habits as they are all employees of SAP, but with little things you encounter differences every day:


  • Brasilians lift their hands when a bus is arriving
  • Australians don’t know shoehorns
  • Indians like seeing elephants
  • African people get very excited when they see snow


However, not only those little things, also the way of working in a group is different. I have experienced myself as a German as time-conscious and structured whereas others focus on interpersonal relationships or respect. Now, after one week, we did a very good job so far in working as a team, but I am sure, I will experience some other cultural surprise in the next 3 weeks .

Corinna Machmeier

Ideas with Impact

Posted by Corinna Machmeier Feb 13, 2015

To foster entrepreneurship among young talents, SAP and the nonprofit Net Impact are holding innovation events around the globe.


“To make an impact, you don’t have to start big, just start”, a young woman points out during the Mannheim Impactathon. SAP is partnering with Net Impact, a community of more than 60,000 students and young professionals worldwide who are committed to integrating social and environmental impact into the workforce. Aligned to the company’s goal of making the world run better and improve people’s lives, SAP is organizing local innovation events called Impactathons where young people can learn what it takes to convert entrepreneurial ideas into action.



At the seventh event in the series, about 60 students from nearly 15 universities gathered on February 5th at the University of Mannheim, Germany. Ten SAP employees were invited to join either as team members sharing their experiences or as Design Thinking coaches. Three experts from social start-ups perfected the chemistry. 


How can SAP better support young people to pursue entrepreneurship that improves their lives and the rest of the world?


The challenge given to the participants was quite general: How can SAP better support young people to pursue entrepreneurship that improves their lives and the rest of the world? It’s not surprising that the agenda is as unorthodox as it is simple. Students and SAP employees are assigned to small groups where they have the chance to elaborate their ideas. The concept is based on a combination of Design Thinking and Rapid Prototyping. Brainstorming sessions take turns with a “marshmallow challenge” and “energizer breaks.” Finally, the teams pitch their most creative solutions to a panel of four judges consisting of the local Impactathon experts and Alexandra van der Ploeg from SAP Corporate Social Responsibility.


     Marshmallow Challenge



“For SAP”, Alexandra van der Ploeg says, “the benefit is to showcase its commitment to improve people’s lives both to our employees and to the next generation of talents such as university students.” SAP also brings local CSR partners to the table who act as experts, sharing their knowledge and input with the teams.



Entrepreneurship is a big word, not only in today’s business context. The next generation workforce, the so-called millennials, is striving for more than just a job. The ambition of making a positive impact on the world often applies to their private lives as well as to their job ambitions.



“We are glad to work with SAP because of its honest commitment to improve people’s lives.”


Stepping up for social causes, be it private or business, has of course another personal benefit. When asked what they took away from the day-long Impactathon, their response was singular: inspiration – both for the big picture and for their career paths. “We are glad to work with SAP because of its honest commitment to improve people’s lives,” affirms Lily Mathews, Partner Programs Manager, Net Impact.


At the end of the day, the jury in Mannheim was most impressed by the idea of building a computer game for kids to “play social engagement,” a form of gamification of a serious topic.


The Impactathon series started in 2014 and hits 12 cities around the globe. After Mannheim and Berlin in Germany, the final stops are Barcelona, Vancouver, Shanghai and Porto Alegre. The winning team among the 12 events will be invited to the annual conference of Net Impact in Seattle.


Earlier this week, the (RED) organization, founded in 2006 by Bono and Bobby Shriver to engage iconic consumer brands in the fight against HIV/AIDS, rallied their corporate partners at The Standard Hotel here in New York City for their annual Partner Summit. You may remember one of (RED)’s initial partnerships with the GAP and those charming t-shirts they designed adorned with words like “INSPI(RED)” and “DESI(RED),” but did you know that SAP has been supporting (RED) and The Global Fund since 2012?

I had the pleasure of attending Monday’s Summit on behalf of SAP’s Global CSR team, and listened on as the (RED) team reviewed highlights from 2014 and shared their strategy for 2015 and beyond. Guests in the room included companies like Snapchat, VICE, Coca-Cola, Belvedere, and Chipotle so you may be asking yourself how SAP, a decidedly non-consumer brand, works with this remarkable organization.

SAP’s relationship with The Global Fund and (RED) began 4 years ago and has included financial support as well as operational support in the form of innovative technology solutions. In 2013 SAP co-founded The Global Fund’s Innovation Coalition, which works to develop a blueprint for private sector companies to engage with the organization and affect change with more than just philanthropic dollars raised. 2014 marked the unveiling of a grant management dashboard which provides in country grant managers with the opportunity to drill down and track performance measures such as funds distribution.

Group_Beginning_Of_End_7370 (smaller).jpg

As the day progressed and the (RED) team shared stories of success it became clear that many of their most valuable lessons learned reflect universal themes that ALL companies large and small, public and private, should consider to ensure success. They outlined a few takeaways from 2014:

  • When we all go together, we all benefit
  • How to stay relevant? Do the unexpected
  • Getting better at closing the loop is crucial, share
    impact with those who have it
  • Social is now savvy and ever-evolving

These are common refrains we hear sung at SAP over and over, as we look to simplify internally and help our customers run simple across the globe.

Of all the inspiring and impressive statistics shared during yesterday’s meeting ($300M raised to date by (RED) for The Global Fund, more than $25M raised in Q4 2014 alone, etc.), the most uplifting takeaway for me was learning that in recent years, the fight for an AIDS-free generation has finally reached a tipping point. The number of individuals newly receiving treatment for HIV/AIDS is now higher than the number of individuals newly infected with the disease each year. An incredible feat, to say the least.

The (RED) team also outlined their insights for the year ahead, and I was struck by their consideration for networks. They believe that the power of networks lies less in how MANY and more in “how STRONG.” There is a much greater focus today on the elasticity of networks and the reverberation effect that strong content can have when shared. Along those same lines, they pointed to a conjecture from Mary Meeker (dubbed “the Queen of the Internet”) that the 2015 tech world will be all about "troves of findable and shareable data." Their goal is to leverage those indicators in a smart and wise way in order to better connect with their millennial and Gen Y audiences. Sound familiar? It’s their nod to the Internet of Things.

Before CEO, Deborah Dugan, and Chief Partnerships Officer, Jennifer Lotito, closed out the Summit with a moment of thanks and celebration for the $300M (RED) has raised to date for The Global Fund, we were treated to a compelling presentation from Jeremy Heimans, the co-founder and CEO of Purpose.com.

Jeremy spoke about the dramatic shifts the world is seeing in how people perceive their own sense of power, noting that both the framework for power models and the values that drive them are radically different than they were even 5 years ago. With compelling examples like “old power is held like a currency, new power flows like a current” and “old power downloads, new power uploads” it became clear rather quickly that Jeremy was onto something significant.

What I realized as I listened to him illustrate these shifting attitudes is that SAP, even as a 43 years young enterprise application software company, is in many ways already placing a disruptive lens over the old power dynamics so prevalent in the world of technology. We do so in the very way we do business every single day.

It was a true pleasure to spend the day with the (RED) team and their partners. The enthusiasm in the room was palpable and I believe it was fueled by pride in knowing that we all have this incredible thing in common – a formidable organization whose singular goal is to help deliver the first
AIDS free generation in 30 years


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