We may hesitate to admit we are naïve at times, but it is difficult not to when we look back on the versions of ourselves in February 2020 that were living joyfully unaware of what was on the horizon. Strategic plans had been confirmed, blueprints drafted, assumptions made. And as with most years prior, here in SAP Global Corporate Social Responsibility we knew how we wanted to scale and activate our programs in the year to come.
Then, a devastating pandemic hit the world and everyone’s soon-to-be least favorite word hit the air over and over again: unprecedented. It threw us all in a fix at first and, for a brief while, we waited for a return to normalcy. In time it became clear that all of those plans we had made would need to pivot and evolve – but now was not the time to pull back. As the impact of COVID-19 spread and the inequalities of our world served only to exacerbate its impact, our team challenged one another to think differently about how we were best served to support our ecosystem of partners and to execute our portfolio of programs.
Our response? Hold fast to our strategy and our mission, stay true, and renew our commitment to powering opportunity through digital inclusion. The COVID-19 crisis is multidimensional and discriminatory in many ways. It is also a very real and very deep education crisis, and with extreme poverty on the rise for the first time in two decades, it will continue to influence vulnerable populations for years to come.
The naivety of early 2020 gave way to necessity which, in time, gave way to enthusiastic transformation. Together with our partners, we quickly adapted program content and execution for virtual environments, offered immediate relief for efforts to slow and stop the pandemic, and expanded our view of how to best engage SAP’s employee base.
Our 2020 CSR eBook is a collection of spotlights and stories that we share with pride in celebration of the impact we were able to achieve in the year that was. It is our celebration of the 8.3 million lives impacted through our investments and the over 130,000 hours dedicated by more than 20,000 SAP employees.
It was mutual trust and shared conviction around social impact that enabled this journey, and we are exceedingly proud of our entire CSR community and the role they played. To all of our partners, volunteer leaders, and every employee who lent their time and talents as a volunteer or opened themselves up to learning during an October Month of Service virtual session: You were instrumental in helping us adapt our work and redefine success. Your continued dedication, perseverance, and passion inspired us.
Our 2020 CSR eBook is dedicated to you. Thank you for making our work possible.
With 2020 behind us, we are forging ahead into the new year and into our renewed commitment to power opportunity through digital inclusion. In the coming months, we hope to bring our ecosystem together through hosting virtual forums for our partners. Our goal is to bolster and strengthen the network of incredible change-makers and impact-drivers that we are lucky enough to work with around the world and sketch a path forward together.
Alexandra van der Ploeg is head of Corporate Social Responsibility at SAP.
This article first appeared on the SAP Global News Center.