International Women’s Day: Be Bold for Change

Around the world, March 8th is recognized as International Women’s Day, a day to celebrate the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women – but also a time to call for greater gender parity. This year’s theme is “Be Bold for Change.”

Why should you care about gender equity? Well, putting aside any personal convictions or feelings, it just makes smart business sense. A September 2015 McKinsey survey estimates that $12 trillion could be added to the global economy if gender equity was achieved. And gender diverse management teams generate 48 percent higher operating margins.

SAP is committed to greater diversity at every level of the organization

The lack of diversity in the technology industry is of particular concern. A recent New York Times article found that women make up only 20 percent of the total workforce in Silicon Valley. And, according to an August 2015 Forbes article, The Lack of Diversity in Technology is a Cultural Issue, “The reality is that gender and racial bias is so ubiquitous in the technology industry that it forces talented female and minority employees to leave. Companies can hire more minorities and women, but without addressing this critical issue, they will not experience improvement in diversity.”

Diversity is proven to drive innovation, improve customer satisfaction and improve employee engagement.

SAP is committed to greater diversity at every level of the organization. The company has a Board-stated commitment to increase the percentage of women in management to 25 percent by the end of 2017. As of year end 2016, women made up 32.6 percent of the SAP global workforce – and the percentage of women in management positions has increased from 18 percent in 2010 to 24.5 percent. We are supporting and implementing numerous programs to ensure that we achieve our goal and, while we know we have work to do, we are proud of the progress we have made.

So, what else is SAP doing to create a more gender diverse culture? Well, in September of 2016, we became the first multinational technology company to be awarded the global Economic Dividends for Gender Equality (EDGE) certificate, following achievement of certification in the US in January 2016. And at the World Economic Forum in 2017, SAP CEO Bill McDermott encouraged colleagues around the world to pursue EDGE certification.

In addition, SAP is driving best-practice and knowledge sharing via the Women’s Professional Growth Series, an extremely successful webcast series which has reached over 11,500 people in more than 40 countries as of year end 2016. The series also now includes a quarterly externally-facing webcast to reach not only SAP employees, but customers, partners, and potential employees, as well. SAP also provides specific “Gender Intelligence” training as part of its seven-module “Focus on Insight” learning curriculum that is available to all 84,000 SAP employees.

Not least, SAP has an incredibly active employee community called the Business Women’s Network (BWN). With more than 8,000 members and 50 chapters globally, the SAP Business Women’s Network is the largest employee-driven network at SAP. It aims to help women advance their careers by building strong relationships, sharing professional insights, developing skills, and seizing career advancing opportunities to drive SAP’s success. The BWN’s ambition is to increase the visibility of female leaders at SAP, showcase business impact, and help achieve SAP’s sustainability goals.

Today, International Women’s Day-related events are being held in numerous SAP locations – Berlin, Newtown Square, Montreal, the Netherlands, Mexico, Singapore, Silicon Valley, New York, Walldorf, Korea, Chile, and Sydney. There will also be countless articles and blogs posted that recognize and celebrate International Women’s Day. We hope that you’ll pause for a moment and recognize the many benefits that come with gender equity… for SAP, for the tech industry, and for the world.

Join the conversation: #BeBoldForChange #BeBoldAtSAP #DiversityAtSAP

Anka Wittenberg is Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer at SAP.