Reflecting on Representation: SAP North America’s Commitment to Culture and Identity

At SAP, diversity and inclusion — and specifically culture and identity — are about honoring the many voices who bring diversity of thought to inspire our innovation.

SAP is made up of more than 88,500 employees representing over 150 nationalities, and it is the unique perspective of each person that makes us a dynamic organization and enables us to better serve our increasingly diverse customer base.

We recognize that a commitment to diversity and inclusion needs to be multi-faceted, which is why SAP focuses on four specific areas we see as critical to our sustainable, long-term success: Gender Intelligence, Cross-Generational Intelligence, Differently Abled People, and Culture and Identity.

We are very proud of what we have accomplished at SAP North America, including our efforts to increase women in leadership positions. In 2017, we reached our goal in North America to have 30 percent women in leadership roles, and we are committed to continue growing that number in the region. The growth of women in leadership all the way up to our two board appointees has elevated the culture at SAP and further underscores our commitment to an inclusive corporate environment. However, as important as it is to celebrate our progress it’s equally important that we recognize there is still a lot of work to be done.

In the technology industry in the U.S., there are many groups represented at significantly lower rates in the workforce. African Americans and Latinos are vastly underemployed compared to other ethnicities, according to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

In 2016, as part of the White House Tech Inclusion Pledge, SAP promised in the spirit of transparency to annually publish data and progress metrics on the diversity of our technology workforce. To honor that commitment, today we are addressing the low representation of underrepresented minorities at SAP and among tech companies in general. While we are not behind most peers, as an established leader we have a responsibility to serve as an example and we are committed to setting an industry-wide precedent for the growth of underrepresented minorities.

To do this, SAP is working with organizations like Culture Shift Labs, The GEM Consortium, National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering, and Project 99 to address professional development and inclusiveness of African American, Latino, Pacific Islander, and Native American talent. SAP is working closely with Delaware State University on Project Propel, an initiative dedicated to enabling historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) and other minority-serving institutions across the U.S. to build the next generation of technology talent. We also recently sponsored HUE Tech Summit for Women of Color and are sponsoring an upcoming National Black MBA Association Women’s Symposium later this month.

Additionally, in partnership with Stanford University’s School of Engineering, the “SAP Engineering Scholars” program supports summer research fellowships for underrepresented talents and our “Design for Educators” initiative uses design thinking to align talent development with the needs of the industry. Both programs are successfully entering their second year. Internally, we implemented workshops to educate colleagues of all ethnicities on gaining strategies for collaboration and development, embracing our differences, and living our SAP values. Building bridges, not silos, across every area of our workforce will ensure that we continue to foster the inclusive culture that we remain committed to at SAP.

We will continue to share more information on our progress as we endeavor to build a workforce that reflects the communities where our customers and partners live and work. In sharing our journey, we hope to realize our vision of creating a truly inclusive environment for all. We hope to change mindsets and to set new standards for our industry and others as we reach more diversity and inclusion milestones. We look forward to sharing our progress.

DJ Paoni is president of SAP North America.