SAP is celebrating the 10th anniversary of its journey to help improve the economy, society, and the environment. Read on for a retrospective, as well as an outlook on what’s next.
SAP helps customers manage digital change. But today’s challenges go far beyond the confines of business. What will our lives be like as water, oil, and other key commodities become scarcer? More and more people live on this earth and strive for prosperity — how can we help them to address these challenges and reach for their dreams?
Companies like SAP have begun to combine economic performance, environmental protection, and social responsibility to make their businesses more sustainable.
Enabling Customers to Become More Sustainable
In March of 2009, SAP made sustainability a long-term strategic goal in line with its vision and purpose to help the world run better and improve people’s lives.
“From the very beginning, SAP’s key lever was to enable customers to create positive economic, social, and environmental impact through our solutions,” says SAP Chief Sustainability Officer Daniel Schmid. “That is even more true today. During the past decade our reach has expanded from 95,000 to more than 425,000 customers — the potential for us to make a difference is enormous.”
It is not just the additional customers that drives SAP’s impact; it is also the broader solution portfolio. Initially, there were only a few solutions, such as the SAP Environment, Health, and Safety Management application focusing on risk and compliance. Now, purpose-led innovations are evolving across the entire portfolio: SAP solutions help eliminate slavery from supply chains, optimize resource productivity, predict and prevent disasters, eliminate gender inequality, and educate people who have never had the chance to enter a classroom.
Moving forward, an area of focus is SAP’s commitment to a world of zero waste. For example, within our digital supply chain we are working to reduce raw material wastage and moving toward circular value creation. To spur related innovation and action, SAP launched the Circular Economy 2030 challenge with Google Cloud at the World Economic Forum in Davos earlier this year.
Walk the Talk
While SAP’s focus is on innovations that help customers become more sustainable, the company is also committed to lead by example.
For instance, SAP has steadily improved its Business Health Culture Index from 69 percent in 2013 to 78 percent in 2018. The percentage of women in management has increased from 17.6 percent in 2009 to 25.7 percent. The number of hours that employees devote to volunteering has grown from 62,000 to more than 250,000. SAP has also reduced its own CO2 emissions through a range of measures from 9.2 tons per employee in 2009 to 3.3 tons per employee last year. The company aims to become carbon neutral in its own operations by 2025.
SAP is also committed to transparency; it remains the only software company disclosing its sustainability performance in a holistic Integrated Report. Our approach to quantifying the impact of social and environmental performance on our operating result is also a significant differentiator, generating interest from investors and, increasingly, customers.
“When the first SAP Integrated Report was released in 2012, employees asked me whether sustainability was not important anymore because we stopped having a dedicated sustainability report,” Schmid recalls. “I, on the other hand, was so proud that sustainability was not something separate anymore, but really embedded into our overall value creation.”
Championing Change: How Employees Contribute
From the start, SAP has sought out the ideas and commitment of employees to help drive the change toward a best-run, sustainable company. About 20 of the company’s very first sustainability champions from 2009 are still part of a network that has grown to 180 members worldwide today.
Susanne Soring and Volker Schäfer are two of them and have been involved in many initiatives, including SAP’s participation in Earth Hour, which has been extended to more than 145 locations. When asked what keeps them going after 10 years, they say: “At the end of the day, it’s all about doing something meaningful and contributing to helping the world run better and improving people’s lives.”
Fellow champion, Cristina Antelo from SAP Enterprise Support in Spain, remembers the early days: “It’s amazing how it has evolved. We started off with quick wins, such as the campaign to print less. The projects the champions are working on today have an even bigger impact because they have moved closer to SAP’s core business.”
One of Antelo’s favorites is the “Improve your employability with SAP” program, a skills-based volunteer initiative helping the unemployed to gain SAP skills and soft skills and to rejoin the labor market.
The vast majority (93 percent) of SAP employees agreed in the company’s latest people survey that “it is important for SAP to pursue sustainability” (2009: 77 percent), and 83 percent stated that “I actively contribute to sustainability goals at SAP” (2009: 47 percent).
Along its sustainability journey, SAP has recorded numerous achievements, as well as some setbacks. SAP has been eager to share those as well and learn, through its External Sustainability Advisory Panel, its internal Sustainability Council, customer dialogue, employee engagement, two dedicated massive open online courses (MOOCs), and other channels.
The insights gained from these discussions help set future directions and make it clear that more work lies ahead. Accordingly, the activities planned throughout this year under the umbrella of the 10th anniversary, are all aimed at facilitating further dialogue to help shape the agenda for the future – and you are invited to join in!
Be Part of the Journey
We invite you to be part of the journey. As a next step, click below to share your personal commitment to a sustainable future alongside SAP’s commitment to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs) with your networks and add hashtag #sap4good.
The more we spread the word and inspire others to join in, the better. Let’s collectively reach 5,000 posts by Earth Day on April 22 and SAP will plant 5,000 trees.
Spin the Wheel of Purpose
In celebration of the 10th anniversary, SAP has updated the web book “SAP and UN Global Goals” to share new stories about how SAP and its customers are contributing to the 17 UN SDGs.