In the latest episode of the AHA! Moments for Diversity & Inclusion video series, SAP Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer Supriya Jha and SAP Concur Senior Compliance Lead Robyn Arroyo discuss how SAP is a safe environment for LGBTQIA+ employees and how this empowered and encouraged Arroyo to openly transition in the workplace.
Arroyo uses she/her/hers pronouns, identifies as a woman, and regards being transgender as a process and not an identity. As a woman, a Latina, and a member of the security and compliance community at large, SAP Concur, Intelligent Spend Management, and SAP, she discusses how intersectionality – the overlap of distinct identities – is key for understanding that LGBTQIA+ individuals are more than their sexual orientation or gender identity. At SAP, intersectionality is part of our culture and allows Arroyo to bring all these identities together and be her authentic self at work.
The AHA! Moments
For Arroyo, there was not one but two defining AHA! moments in her life when she realized that she can be her authentic self at work – the 2020 U.S. Supreme Court Bostock v. Clayton County ruling and reviewing the SAP gender transition guidelines.
In June 2020, 19 years after the birth of Pride@SAP and nine years after SAP pledged in its Global Human Rights Commitment Statement to prohibit “discrimination and harassment based on personal factors including but not limited to […] gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or expression,” the U.S. Supreme Court ruled it was illegal to fire employees because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.
Prior to this ruling, employees could be fired for being gay, bisexual, or transgender in more than half the states in the U.S. “Seeing that ruling,” recalls Arroyo, “was very encouraging for me to come forth in the workplace to be myself.”
The SAP gender transition guidelines also signaled clearly to her that SAP is a safe place to transition.
For many transgender people, including Arroyo, there comes a point when they start to align their lives and physical identities to their gender identity, generally with the goal of living consistently in their gender identity full time. Employers are key to facilitating this process to make it as smooth as possible. For many SAP employees, teams, and managers, working with a transitioning or transitioned colleague will be a new situation; there may be anxiety about expected behavior or questions and uncertainty about how to support a colleague during the gender transition process.
The Employee View
The SAP gender transition guidelines set out clearly how an employee can start this process – from the notification of gender transition to clarification on appearance. All SAP employees are bound to the SAP dress code and have the right to express themselves according to their gender identity. Issues like restroom and health facilities access based on an employee’s gender identity are also, for example, addressed in the guidelines.
The HR and Manager View
The correct support of HR and the manager of the transitioning employee is a top priority to safeguard employee well-being.
The guidelines explain how HR designates a people relations partner to support the transgender or transitioning employee and explains the manager’s obligation to respect employee privacy. It also provides guidance on how a manager can address concerns of other team members as questions may arise. Managers are urged to be open, to listen, and to work closely with the people relations partner.
HR is also responsible for changing names and pronouns on all non-regulatory documentation such as e-mail, access badge, and so on.
No More Deadnaming
Deadnaming happens when a person’s previous name, which does not correspond to their gender identity, is used. Using this previous name stops others from seeing and getting a sense of the person’s true identity.
Arroyo explains that updating her name, pronouns, and gender marker in company applications, such as SAP SuccessFactors solutions, e-mail, MS Teams, and other communication systems, was extremely important to convey to others who she is. Although this was not a simple process because of the coordination required between the IT and HR departments, these updates are crucial to successfully transitioning at SAP.
Updating her name to Robyn was a critical component in coming out at SAP. It allowed her to be her authentic self and, as she says with a broad smile, “When I saw my name, I saw myself. And when others see my name, they know who I am.”
The Crucial Role of Pride@SAP
Employee Network Groups (ENGs) are voluntary, employee-led diversity and inclusion initiatives that are formally supported by SAP. Pride@SAP was the first one, founded more than 20 years ago in 2001.
Sponsored by Member of the Executive Board of SAP SE and Chief Marketing & Solutions Officer Julia White, Pride@SAP is dedicated to supporting the LGBTQ+ community and its allies. It operates in 40 chapters globally and plays a crucial role in delivering on SAP’s commitment to LGBTQ+ inclusion.
In 2022, awards celebrating and acknowledging this unwavering and long-term commitment included:
- SAP America Inc: Best Place to Work for LGBTQ+ Equality from the Human Rights Campaign Corporate Equality Index
- SAP Brazil: Top score for initiatives to build an inclusive workplace for LGBTQIA+ diversity and inclusion employers’ from the Human Rights Campaign and Mais Diversidade
- SAP Japan: Gold Certification in PRIDE Index from Work with Pride
Pride@SAP also drives LGBTQ+ education awareness programs as part of the inclusive mindset challenge – a set of bite-sized challenges dedicated to making SAP a space of inclusion and belonging. To mark Pride month, mindset challenges on intersectionality within the LGBTQ+ community, homophobia, transphobia, and biphobia are being released.