A “Living Window” into Sustainability at SAP

Feature Article | March 26, 2012 by Brian Wasson

Sustainability reports have traditionally been the exclusive domain of pundits looking to pore over raw data on an organization’s economic, environmental, and social impact. Recently, though, many businesses have realized their sustainability performance is increasingly of interest to the average person and that it needs to be presented in a relevant and accessible format.

SAP has been a leader in the movement toward more user-friendly sustainability reports for several years, rolling-out a series of ever-more-engaging reports since its first report in 2007. The new, fifth-annual version of the SAP Sustainability Report shows how personal and corporate engagement can make a difference in helping the world run better. It offers visitors inspiring stories of business transformation, highly interactive data charts, the ability to provide comments within the report, and easy integration with social media sites to allow readers to share their views.

Targeted at customers, partners, employees, shareholders, and the general public, the report covers SAP’s innovations in software solutions for energy management and sustainable operations, its own transformation into a more sustainable company, and its social investment strategy. It also showcases real-life stories about the company’s internal focus on sustainability and how it has helped customers run their businesses more sustainably and profitably. The report includes both financial and non-financial information as SAP continues its move towards more integrated reporting.

“As a company founded and thriving on innovation, our goal is to help organizations find better ways of optimizing their use of resources. By doing so, we become a catalyst for more sustainable and profitable business practices. Our new report highlights the progress we have made on this journey of helping the world run better and improving people’s lives,” said Peter Graf, SAP Chief Sustainability Officer. “While much work remains, we are proud of how SAP and our customers are becoming better-run businesses by not simply embracing a sustainability strategy, but rather by making their overall strategies more sustainable.”

Creating a Living Report

Many, if not most, corporate sustainability reports are static documents that present an annual snapshot of progress from a single perspective. SAP takes sustainability reporting to the next level with its latest report, offering a “living window” into the company’s sustainability progress – available throughout the year and continuously updated. To promote transparency, the report has built-in reader feedback tools that allow visitors to engage in an ongoing, two-way conversation, directly within the report or by using common social media tools (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.) to share ideas and inspiration.

In order to get the up-to-date data needed to keep the online report current, SAP measures, monitors, and reports its sustainability performance using data sourced from its own solutions, including the SAP® Carbon Impact OnDemand, the SAP® BusinessObjects™ Sustainability Performance Management application and SAP BusinessObjects Explorer™ software.

Results Matter

While it’s tempting to see SAP’s Sustainability Report as just a slick online brochure, Rami Branitzky, SAP Senior Vice President of Sustainability, says that it’s much more than that. “Our user-friendly interface is backed by rigorous standards of data collection and transparency, specifically the enhanced Scope 3 greenhouse gas emissions protocol,” said Branitzky. “It has also achieved a “GRI A+” rating from the Global Reporting Initiative, the most widely used standardized sustainability reporting framework in the world.”

The report clearly articulates the worldwide impact of SAP’s energy and environmental management strategies, sustainable supply chain, operational risk management, sustainable workforce, and sustainability reporting and analytics solutions. It details how SAP improved its carbon efficiency for the fifth consecutive year, avoiding extra costs of €190 million since 2008. Also highlighted is the increase of SAP’s internal employee engagement by nine percent in just one year and how SAP’s social investment strategy impacted one million lives in 2011. Looking forward, the report introduces a global target to increase the ratio of women in management positions to 25 percent by 2017, up from 18.7 percent in 2011.

“Applying the ‘business case of sustainability’ to ourselves, the report shows that SAP delivered impressive results in 2011. We have become a market leader in software for energy management and more sustainable operations, avoided significant costs by operating more effectively ourselves, and have executed on an inspiring social investment strategy,” said Graf. “We’re proud of the positive recognition we’ve received for our efforts from the Dow Jones Sustainability Indexes, the Carbon Disclosure Project, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and others, and look forward to the ideas and inspiration to come from the readers of our report.”

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