Soccer team in a huddle

Workforce Diversity and Inclusion is a Local Imperative

July 1, 2016 by John Tully 43

Technology today helps making connections faster and easier. In many ways, “virtual” has become the standard for communication.

But I’m convinced that the value of a handshake and a direct relationship has never been more important than it is today. There is no substitute, especially in business, for making connections personal.

As an executive at SAP, I oversee our business in the South. Whether with a customer, partner, or employee, nothing replaces a live interaction to create a long-term relationship and lasting bond. Our team has built a business strategy on this highly personal, local approach and it’s that strategy that has served our customers and teams well. Our philosophy is, if we each become an active, integral part of our respective communities we will be better prepared to fully understand and address the needs of our customers. It also means that our workforce has to represent the diversity and uniqueness of our communities.

Recently, SAP announced that it is one of the first companies to sign the White House Tech Inclusion Pledge. I am very proud to work for a company that has consistently and clearly stated its Diversity and Inclusion goals, and developed industry-leading programs to ensure we are moving the needle against these objectives.

The SAP Veterans to Work program at the St. Michael’s Learning Academy (SMLA) in Fort Hood, TX, is just one example of a program in the South that’s making a big impact. In partnership with SMLA, SAP provides an opportunity for active veterans to be SAP-trained and certified so that when they leave the military they have developed in-demand, marketable skills.

Through the SAP University Alliances program, we partner with local universities to support the development of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) curriculum. Our SAP leaders are in front of students lecturing in the classroom, offering mentorships, and working with teachers to inspire careers in technology. We are helping build a pipeline of talent for our industry regardless of race, religion, origin or sexual orientation.

I am very proud of these programs, but there is more we can do. SAP’s role in the White House Tech Inclusion Pledge sends a clear message that we are upping the ante and taking on the challenge to lead. As leaders, we must each be committed to building and sustaining a diverse workforce that is representative of our local communities. It’s the right thing to do, but it’s also good for business, allowing each of us to get closer to the customer while creating a healthy, dynamic work environment for our employees.

When we make inclusion and diversity personal, I believe our teams, communities and respective businesses all benefit from the results.

This story originally appeared on Life at SAP on the SAP Community Network.

Top image via Shutterstock

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