Connecting Economic, Social, and Environmental Performance at SAP

Each year around Earth Day, the world seems to pay extra-special attention to some of the world’s most complex problems – clean water and sanitation, clean energy, responsible consumption, and climate action, to name a few.

While these issues are extremely important, environmental sustainability cannot be considered in isolation just one day a year. At SAP, we believe that social, economic, and environmental performance are interrelated, with each creating tangible impacts on the others. 

Founded in 1972 by five entrepreneurs, the company now serves more than 425,000 customers in 180 countries. Through these customers, SAP is connected to 77 percent of the world’s transaction revenue, 78 percent of the world’s food, and 58 percent of United Nations (UN) member governments.

As Alexandra van der Ploeg, global head of Corporate Social Responsibility at SAP, shared with the PYXERA Global Engagement Forum on Solving Solvable Problems, “We’re playing a major role in shaping the modern economy. Few multinational organizations are better positioned to influence how business is optimized for good.” This includes both SAP and corporations’ ability to protect the planet that sustains us while growing their business at the same time.

These facts are powerful. What lies beneath the numbers is SAP’s purpose and commitment to help the world run better and improve people’s lives – at scale. Together, with our employees, technology, and global ecosystem of customers and partners, we are committed to transform industries, grow economies, and lift up societies while sustaining our environment. This isn’t something we think about one day a year; it’s something we act on every day of the year.

Sustainability Turns 10 and SAP Issues Latest Integrated Report

This year marks the 10th anniversary of sustainable impact at SAP. Close to this anniversary also lies the publication of our recent integrated report, which combines SAP’s financial performance with our environmental and social performance. Measured by indicators such as the Employee Engagement Index (EEI), Employee Retention, Business Health Culture Index (BHCI), and reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, this year’s report documents that our social and environmental indicators remain as key performance indicators (KPIs) for SAP overall. These non-financial indicators show a connection to SAP’s financial profit. For example, if our employee retention grows by one percent, this will have an effect of €55 to €65 million on our operational profit. Reporting in an integrated way helps us and our investors understand the importance and impact of sustainability on SAP as a company, and the importance of the health where our employees and customers live and operate.

Read on to learn more about the connectivity of our financial and non-financial indicators in the 2018 SAP Integrated Report.

What Will You Find in This Year’s Report?

In the spirit of Earth Day, let’s look at our environmental performance. In 2017, SAP set a goal to become carbon neutral by 2025. In 2018, we took another important step to achieve this goal by reducing our carbon footprint from 325 kilotons COin 2017 to 310 kilotons COin 2018. At the same time, our employee headcount grew by approximately nine percent.

So how can SAP reach its aim to become carbon neutral? In general, by following our carbon reduction strategy: avoid, reduce, and then compensate. This means, for example, investing in virtual collaboration and communication technologies to avoid business flights, while investing in carbon offsets in the cases where we cannot avoid air travel. For example, we provide carpooling solutions, such as the ride-sharing app TwoGo, for employees who are commuting to our offices. When it comes to electricity consumption, we invest in high-quality renewable electricity for 100 percent of our offices and data centers. We select our offset investments considering the World Wide Fund for Nature’s (WWF) GOLD Standard, which gives us precise information about not only the project’s carbon footprint, but also its regional social and environmental impact. Read more about these topics in the report chapters on Energy & Emissions and Waste & Water.

Our social performance includes topics such as integrating human rights considerations into our daily business. In our Global Human Rights Commitment Statement as well as the report chapter Human Rights, we explain how we aim to fulfill the guidelines of the UN Global Compact. However, we not only ensure fair and equal work conditions for our own employees at SAP; our code of conduct also requires our business partners and suppliers to hold up high human rights standards. At a global perspective, SAP supports customers to improve transparency along global supply chains through our SAP Ariba Supplier Risk solution. We aim to reduce slavery risks and risks of human rights abuses in the procurement sector on the long run. We also stress the importance of including all people in the digital economy through our Learning for Life program. Read more in the Social Highlights section.

The SAP Integrated Report is 269 pages and highlights that ninety-three percent of employees support SAP’s effort to pursue sustainability. Through corporate social responsibility initiatives, SAP colleagues volunteered a quarter of a million hours and reached more than 2.8 million youth through education and workforce readiness initiatives. While growing the entire size of the company by 10 percent, we beat our ambition to shrink our carbon footprint by nearly five percent. The bottom line is that we don’t just talk about  economic, social, and environmental connectivity, we report on it.


How Can You Contribute to Sustainability?

Everyone has the power to drive change in the world. We invite you to be part of SAP’s sustainability journey. Click below to share your personal commitment to a sustainable future alongside SAP’s commitment to the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) with your networks and add hashtag #sap4good.

Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | LinkedIn

The more we spread the word and inspire others to join in, the better. Let’s collectively reach 5,000 posts by the end of Earth Day on April 22 and SAP will plant 5,000 trees.


Jennifer Beason is head of Marketing and Communications for SAP Corporate Social Responsibility.
Diana Pauly is a senior sustainability specialist for SAP Sustainability.