Skip to Content

Human Rights and Labor Standards

  • SAP respects, supports, and upholds global standards regarding human rights.
  • The SAP Global Human Rights Commitment Statement focuses on three main areas: our employees, our ecosystem of partners and suppliers, and our solutions.
  • We enforce our standards through targeted training, an auditing process, and grievance procedures.

Upholding Standards for Our Employees, Our Ecosystem, and Our Solutions


As a signatory of the United Nations Global Compact since 2000, we believe that business has a responsibility to respect human rights throughout all business operations. Upholding high standards protects our reputation, supports diversity, helps to attract and keep top talent, and fosters our innovation as our employees work in fair, ethical conditions.

We respect and support the values of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises and the International Labor Organization (ILO) Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work by integrating human rights considerations into our standard business practices. In working to ensure that our commitment to human rights translates into practice, we take guidance from the United Nations “Protect, Respect, and Remedy” framework.

We adopted a SAP Global Human Rights Commitment Statement that details our respect, support, and activities based on the international standards mentioned above. This commitment statement is based on, and is an extension of, the SAP Code of Business Conduct and has been approved by our Executive Board. It is applicable to all our operations and subsidiaries globally and will be reviewed on a regular base. We are committed to regularly updating the commitment statement and implemented some changes in 2015. As a result, the statement now includes stronger guidance for employee behavior and accountability for each topic, as well as clear references to our other guidelines (SAP Global Health and Safety Management Policy; SAP Data Protection and Privacy Policy, among others).

We based this commitment statement on a global impact assessment that entailed interviewing stakeholders to assess the issues of greatest importance to SAP. For example, we found that child labor, freedom of association, and forced labor are less material issues for us as a business software provider. We do not manufacture products using vendor factories and contracted labor, and our employees are highly specialized and skilled, with an expectation of a competitive salary and benefits. Nevertheless, we are enforcing human rights and labor standards with our supply chain partners through our SAP Global Human Rights Commitment Statement and SAP Supplier Code of Conduct. We also believe that our employees are in a strong position to voice their opinions, making freedom of association a less relevant issue. For example, in our People Survey conducted in 2015, 76% of employees characterize the climate within SAP as one of trust. At the same time, however, we have identified complex, constantly evolving human rights risks and opportunities that the software industry as a whole faces, from accessibility to security and privacy.

To that end, our commitment statement focuses on three main areas where SAP has the greatest impact: our employees, our ecosystem of partners and suppliers, and our solutions.

Enforcing Our Standards Through an Audit Process and Grievance Procedures

Our sustainability organization is responsible and accountable for orchestrating our approach to respecting human rights and integrating human rights considerations into our business. The team works with colleagues from human resources (HR), procurement, and product development to create a comprehensive approach. To assess whether our human rights measures are sufficient, we consider external benchmarks, performance ratings, audit results, and stakeholder feedback. In addition, in 2012, we launched a global internal audit program to verify that our subsidiaries adhere to our standards. Since then, we conduct regular audits to check internal compliance with this policy. In 2015, we conducted a labor audit in our locations SAP China Labs and AGS operations in Shanghai and Beijing. There were no material findings within the audit. However, areas for improvement were identified and include establishing an employee council, enhancing air quality inside the buildings, and increasing awareness of team-building events.

Respecting the Rights of Our Employees and Providing Them with a Voice

Our most material human rights and labor standards relate to our employees, and we maintain detailed policies in this area. For example, we have a long-standing policy of non-discrimination in all aspects of our dealings with employees. We are also committed to providing a work environment free from unlawful harassment. Employees who feel they are being subjected to conduct that violates this policy are encouraged to report the conduct to their managers, HR officers, or a compliance office. In the United States, reports regarding harassment and discrimination must be escalated to the Legal Compliance and Integrity Office (LCIO). Prompt, thorough, and objective investigations are conducted upon receiving complaints, and if it is determined that prohibited discrimination, harassment, or other conduct has occurred, we take appropriate remedial action.

Our global ombudsperson also plays a crucial role in representing the voice of employees. An independent and neutral authority, the ombudsperson is the main contact person for our global employee base to address issues and settle disputes. This work includes the investigation of employee complaints and the mediation of fair settlements. All employees can reach out to the ombudsperson on a confidential basis. The ombudsperson also helps the Executive Board analyze HR-related complaints and consider ways to address potential issues before they occur.

Employees have access to other channels to raise concerns about the workplace, including colleagues who are trained to be part of our internal mediation pool. Our LCIO oversees our antibribery and antitrust policies, along with other issues related to our business conduct. In addition to such grievance procedures, we work to uphold high standards by providing training to our employees on human rights issues that are most relevant to our business – namely, security, privacy, and antidiscrimination.

Collaborating with Our Works Councils to Ensure Fair Labor Practices

As published in the SAP Human Rights Commitment Statement, we strive for constructive labor relations across the world, working within each country’s requirements.

For example, since 2006, our employees in Germany are represented by works councils. The councils consist of elected union members and non-union members. The councils have the right to be consulted by SAP management on topics that define the work environment and work processes. These include HR initiatives, talent development, payment and benefits, equal opportunities, changes in work or IT processes, privacy protection, and health and safety protection.

Other works councils exist in Belgium, France, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Slovenia, Spain, and the United Kingdom. In addition, since 2012, we have a European Works Council (now SAP SE Works Council Europe) representing employees from all SAP subsidiaries in Europe. This body must be informed or, in special cases, consulted, on important transnational issues.

Collective bargaining agreements with unions are only made in countries where legally required. Overall, about 50% of employees are represented by works councils, an independent trade union, or are covered by collective bargaining agreements.

SAP management is committed to collaborate and communicate with councils’ representatives on corporate management decisions. While we do not have a global minimum notice period in place for making operational changes, we do provide timely information and consult with employee representatives whenever and wherever required.

Addressing Human Rights and Labor Standards in Our Supply Chain and Solutions

We expect all our business partners to respect human rights and to avoid complicity in human rights abuses. Our SAP Supplier Code of Conduct and our SAP Partner Code of Conduct require suppliers and partners, respectively, to uphold human and labor rights and to provide a safe and healthy work environment to employees. In addition, we work collaboratively with our suppliers on the implementation of these codes, which may include on-site audits to assess performance.

As a business software company, we are committed to respecting and protecting human rights throughout the lifecycle of our products and services from design through development to use. We uphold internal standards for the protection of personal information and privacy rights as defined in the SAP Global Product Development Policy, the SAP Quality Policy, and related SAP Product Standards as well as in the SAP Data Protection and Privacy Policy. In addition, to support inclusion efforts worldwide, we follow the recommendations of the current versions of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines and Section 508 of the United States Access Board when designing our products and services.

    Back to top