One Man, Two Words: Equal Opportunity

Cawa Younosi, director of HR at SAP Deutschland SE & Co. KG, is responsible for diversity and inclusion at all of the company’s locations in Germany. For Younosi, the effort to ensure equal opportunity is more than just a job – it’s a calling.

Cawa Younosi, director of HR at SAP Deutschland SE & Co. KG

An attorney by trade who came to SAP in 2009, Younosi is engaged in activities across Germany that seek to promote culture and identity, people with disabilities, a multigenerational workplace, gender equality, and other areas of diversity. The responsibilities his position include effecting HR policies that are especially accommodating to families.

In that respect, Younosi’s latest initiative comes as no surprise: As of 2017, every vacant management post at SAP in Germany will be advertised as a part-time (75 percent) position. Applicants will, however, have the option to work full-time if they so choose. Besides improving equal opportunity for men and women and providing further support to employees who need to balance their family and job-related obligations, SAP is also hoping that this measure makes a career in management more attractive to everyone.

Industry-Leading Advancement of Women

In 2013, SAP announced its intention to ensure that women would occupy 25 percent of its management positions by the end of 2017. Today, in the fourth quarter of 2016, the company has already reached 24.3 percent. This progress can be attributed to global endeavors like the Leadership Excellence Acceleration Program (LEAP) and numerous initiatives at the local level – including the Power2XLEAD program, which Younosi launched in Germany. Efforts of this kind are unique among the companies listed on the country’s leading stock index, DAX. Meanwhile, the success of Power2XLEAD has led to plans for expansion to further areas and countries in 2017.

In today’s battle for talented employees, we as a company can’t afford to leave potential lying around untapped. – Cawa Younosi, HR Director and Head of Diversity & Inclusion / Family & Career (Germany), SAP Deutschland SE & Co. KG

Younosi also led SAP’s effort to revamp the entire recruiting process for all of its management positions. Now, for example, a man and a woman must be on hand to represent company management during every job interview. In addition, women must always be included in the short list of candidates for openings advertised outside the company; for internal positions, SAP has even begun conducting in-house headhunting. If meeting any of these requirements proves unworkable, word is sent to Younosi himself, who then looks into the reasons at hand and explores possible alternatives. That said, promoting more women to management positions is no longer solely the responsibility of the HR department at SAP. Every area of the SAP Executive Board – each of which has a precise overview that indicates what percentage of its managers are female and what its target percentage is – is now accountable for achieving this objective. Younosi backs up his pragmatic approach with measurable KPIs that are incorporated into monthly reports.

Between January and November 2016, 29.4 percent of all open management positions at SAP in Germany were assigned to women. When you consider that women account for just 30 percent of the company’s entire workforce, that’s a very good result. – Cawa Younosi


In October 2016, Younosi initiated the Power2XLEAD program to promote the next generation of female managers at SAP in Germany. Internal candidates are now completing targeted training and being considered for open management positions. Upon taking on one of these roles, these women continue to receive support, including in the form of coaching or mentoring. “We don’t just cut them loose after they make it to the management level,” Younosi affirms. A follow-up program – Aspiring Leaders, which will cater to both male and female managers-in-waiting – is already set for launch.

Equal Opportunity for All

Among other factors, Younosi’s own background is likely part of his own motivation to advocate for equal rights. When he was just 14 years old, he fled to Germany without his parents and dealt with all of the resulting consequences. Today, Younosi is passionate about fighting for equal opportunity for all people in all their many facets, including ethnic and cultural heritage, age, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, physical and mental abilities, and different living and employment situations.

“For me, it’s mainly about establishing basic conditions that give everyone the same chance to succeed,” he says.