A record numbers of SAP employees worldwide pitched in during the company’s Month of Service in 2015.
As she looks back, the enthusiasm in Maite Viusa Gordils’s voice is easy to hear: “Seeing the joy in so many children’s eyes that day was a true delight. Miracle – the child I’m sponsoring – had never been so full of life.”
Maite took part in a Month of Service event at an indoor playground in Schwetzingen, where she and other SAP employees played, laughed, and romped around with children from refugee families. The revelry even inspired a number of her colleagues to stay involved.
“Plenty of them want to make donations and stay in contact with me on these issues,” affirms Maite, who contributes year-round to refugee-related causes. Another SAP employee looking to do his part was Miklos Szorenyi, who took a series of photos at the Schwetzingen event and is now planning a larger photography project on the lives of refugees. Maite will be giving him access to the nearby camp.
Above and Beyond
Just like those in Schwetzingen, SAP employees all over the world pitched in during this year’s Month of Service. Together, they over-achieved on the company’s goal for 2015 and managed to surpass the volunteer effort from 2014. In total, 18,636 volunteers contributed 116,268 hours to 740 social projects. This means that SAP employees got to work on a new project at almost an hourly rate over the course of October.
Alicia Lenze, head of Global Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), is also thrilled with the level of participation this year: “When I look back at everything that’s happened this October, it seems more like a month of living our vision than a Month of Service because there has been so much going on.”
Through all of these efforts, SAP has also demonstrated how serious it is about supporting the UN’s new Sustainable Development Goals through the power of corporate volunteering as a founding partner of the organization IMPACT 2030.
In the spirit of CSR’s strategy to give young people the skills they will need in the digital economy, an array of projects around the world gave SAP employees the chance to apply and pass on their expertise. Many colleagues also lent valuable hands-on support to other efforts designed to achieve practical improvements in the lives of many people in need in their own communities.
EU Code Week, Africa Code Week
In Europe, SAP was involved in EU Code Week, which in 2015 took place for the second time. In more than 120 workshops, SAP employees showed young people in more than 10 countries that programming isn’t actually all that hard. The participants then had the opportunity to apply their new skills in a fun setting.
EU Code Week’s resounding success in 2014 prompted the CSR team in EMEA to implement the concept with more than 100 partners in Africa. During the resulting Africa Code Week, nearly 90,000 children and teens in 17 countries learned the basics of programming.
“We succeeded in giving these young people an idea of the opportunities in IT and the jobs they’ll have access to in the future,” Lenze reports. The coaches involved – including some 1,500 SAP employees who now hope to continue sharing their knowledge – had been training for the event since June. SAP is already planning to expand the Africa Code Week initiative to 30 countries in 2016.
Efforts in response to the current refugee crisis were another area in which SAP employees got heavily involved. Thousands across the globe took part in the #One4 initiative and purchased the song “I Was Me” by Imagine Dragons, with proceeds benefitting the UN Refugee Agency. Employees were also highly successful in motivating their peers to join in through social networks.
During Month of Service, refugee aid was a prominent theme in Germany in particular. In a design thinking workshop at the AppHaus in Heidelberg, SAP colleagues discussed the best ways to leverage their talents and skills to the direct or indirect benefit of the many people fleeing to the country.
China and APJ
China succeeded in reaching the lofty goals it set for 2015, with twice as many volunteers as in 2014. The projects organized in China also concentrated on making use of SAP employees’ special expertise. In Hong Kong, for example, SAP joined forces with The Women Foundation to provide career advice to young women from socially disadvantaged families at a design thinking workshop.
India, meanwhile, recorded the highest employee participation rate not only of any country, but of all the regions involved in racking up more than 40,000 volunteer hours.
This region’s activities also focused on introducing young people to different technologies. At a Family Day in Brazil, for instance, SAP employees’ children and friends between the ages of three and 13 had an awesome time telling stories, acting in plays, learning more about SAP and its technologies through a fun quiz, and using simple programming to make toy robots walk.
In nearly 370 projects, SAP colleagues in the U.S. and Canada got involved in making schools and kindergartens more attractive and working with young people on developing sustainable solutions to specific challenges.
One such example is a social innovation project SAP presented in cooperation with the non-governmental organization GENYOUth in San Francisco: With help from SAP mentors, students vied for the title of “SAP’s Teen Innovator” as they developed business endeavors that would actually be realized in the future. The two best ideas will now receive support to the tune of up to $12,000 each. One of the winning entries chosen by the jury – which included SAP managers and the founders and heads of various start-ups – was “Trash Bash,” which is designed to make waste separation and recycling fun for students.