There is a continuous need to learn and take ongoing, meaningful action to overcome racism in an effort to achieve social justice. SAP Canada has been committed to improving our relations with Indigenous colleagues and communities by taking the opportunity to reflect upon our history and the informed future we must carve out to better understand and embrace the rich culture of Indigenous Peoples in Canada. We have been building and working on a strategy that is comprehensive, culturally informed, and effective.
As SAP doubles down on our commitment to serve those who are underrepresented in tech, including Indigenous communities, we see quality education and economic opportunity as central to this commitment.
Last year, SAP partnered with the Pro Bono for Economic Equity program to help strengthen Black-owned businesses and social enterprises by providing them with support and expertise from our employees. The result of the U.S. initiative showed that 95% of businesses felt the program met their expectations. Meanwhile, 92% said they felt more prepared to address future challenges for their organization.
The program was so successful in the U.S., SAP expanded it last year to Brazil, South Africa, and the United Kingdom. And this year, we will roll it out in Canada.
Over six weeks, SAP employees will spend one week working full-time with their assigned Indigenous-owned business and five weeks working at least eight hours per week. The program not only allows SAP employees to leverage their professional skills, but will contribute to fostering Canada’s Indigenous economy, worth over CAD$30 billion and expected to triple in size over the next five years. Given the growth projection of the Indigenous economy, Indigenous entrepreneurship is a significant driving force of Canada’s economic recovery and stability.
SAP is committed to helping organizations run better and improving people’s lives. With this initiative, we will help provide Indigenous-owned businesses some of the tools they need to become the best run version of themselves. SAP Canada has begun the volunteer recruitment and training process and is looking for Canadian Indigenous-owned businesses to sign up and participate in the program.
But don’t take our word for it. Participants of the Pro Bono for Economic Equity program last year were quoted as saying, “I looked into how much it would cost to hire consultants, and to be able to get this for free as an early-stage startup was a huge, huge benefit.”
And our employees also found it incredibly rewarding: “We’re not just talking about making a difference, we’re doing something to directly address systemic inequity. My connection…continues to this day and created connections for me across SAP that push me to be a better person, personally and professionally.”
As co-executive sponsors of the SAP Canada Indigenous Inclusion Steering Committee, we are very proud of our team for focusing on volunteering their time and expertise and providing the gift of service as part of this program, furthering our social justice ambitions and impact.
Agnes Garaba is chief operating officer for SAP Labs Canada.
Brian Moore is chief operating officer for SAP Canada.