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Management Approach

  • We recognize that sustainability activities of SAP are a sound business case.
  • We hold ourselves accountable through our policies, goals, and audit programs.
  • To help our customers to run more sustainable businesses, we strive to become an exemplar ourselves by transforming our own processes and integrate holistic thinking.

Over the past several years, we made a commitment to move from having a sustainability strategy at SAP to creating a corporate strategy that is sustainable. This goal hinges on integrating sustainability into our core business. To move closer to this integration, we have adjusted our governance structure so that some of the dedicated functions of the sustainability organization now reside within various lines of business. For example, a team of solution experts is working in close cooperation with the sustainability team to develop technology solutions to help our customers manage their sustainability activities across the value chain. To enable this federated approach, each board area at SAP has appointed a dedicated sustainability contact who reports directly to the respective Global Managing Board member.

One of our primary aims is to demonstrate how sustainability not only aligns with our business objectives, but also benefits the top and bottom line of SAP. We also recognize that investors are one of our core stakeholder groups, as they are increasingly focused on how we are addressing major challenges facing business, from climate change to population growth. As a result, the chief financial officer (CFO), who holds the dual role of chief  operating officer (COO), is ultimately responsible for this area. In addition, our CFO/COO is the board sponsor for sustainability.

The chief sustainability officer has several major responsibilities focused on our sustainability performance, our efforts to embed sustainability into our core business, and our external relationships and communication. Under their leadership, our sustainability organization works with leaders across SAP to monitor our environmental, social, and economic performance.

Ensuring That Roles, Responsibility, and Resources Drive Progress

Our extended sustainability team is part of a matrix organization. It is composed of the following:

  • A dedicated sustainability team working to embed sustainability into our corporate strategy and responsible for our internal sustainability performance, contributing to our integrated reporting, and stimulating new sustainability initiatives in other parts of the organization
  • A team of sustainability experts that design and integrate sustainability into new or existing industry or line-of-business solutions
  • Development and solution management professionals creating specific SAP solutions for sustainability
  • Global services and support employees
  • Dedicated sustainability contacts per board area that focus on board area-specific opportunities to embed sustainability into their respective business
  • A Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) team responsible for managing our social investments
  • Human resources specialists addressing topics particular in the areas of health, diversity and inclusion, employee engagement, and leadership development
  • Procurement experts who include sustainability criteria in supplier evaluation
  • IT operations professionals, who cover issues such as working environment and energy consumed by data centers
  • Facility management professionals, who design and manage our facilities based on environmental standards (LEED)
  • Local teams in the SAP Labs locations around the world that oversee a range of sustainability projects
  • Sustainability communications employees
  • Sustainability marketing professionals
  • An investor relations team that informs the investment community about our holistic company approach
  • A network of local sustainability champions who dedicate 10% of their work to drive sustainability in their respective fields

Managing Our Material Aspects

Responsibilities related to material aspects are managed as follows:

  • Human capital management: Overall, global responsibility lies with the Managing Board member responsible for human resources and labor relations. We foster regular dialog among the sustainability organization and employee representatives, specifically German works councils and the European Works Council .
  • Intellectual capital management: Included in the solution and technology portfolio through a central portfolio team. Customer loyalty is measured by a dedicated team reporting to the Executive Board member responsible for sales; account managers are responsible for the relationships with their customers.
  • Security and privacy: Privacy and data protection is managed by an internal Data Protection and Privacy Office that operates in Germany complemented by a global network of local subsidiary data protection officers. Security accountabilities are defined for products and corporate issues; a cybersecurity task force has been established. In addition, the corporate audit department now has a dedicated security audit team.
  • Financial performance: The Executive Board retains ultimate responsibility for revenue growth, profitability, and financial stability of the company.
  • Business conduct: These responsibilities lie with our Global Governance, Risk, and Compliance department, as well as Legal Compliance and Integrity Office (LCIO). The SAP Global Delivery and Export Control Policy clearly defines the management approach and governance ensuring compliance with import and export regulations relevant for SAP solutions and technology.
  • Climate and energy: The responsibility for this topic lies within the sustainability team, managed by our chief sustainability officer. The Global Environmental Policy, which was updated in July 2015, lists our 8 environmental targets, including our carbon emissions target, the purchase of 100% renewable electricity for all facilities and data centers, and the increase of electric vehicles in our company car fleet. SAP reports the greenhouse gas emissions caused by corporate jets under the European Union Emissions Trading System (EU ETS). In addition, the Renewable Energy Sources Act (EEG) is applicable to our German locations where we have installed solar panels.

Defining Our Commitment Through Policies

Our commitment to make SAP a more sustainable company and to manage our impact is defined in our global policies, which can be found online on our Sustainability at SAP section on the public Web site Our policies are applicable to all SAP subsidiaries and are approved by the Executive Board.

Setting Goals to Hold Ourselves Accountable

We are committed to improving our sustainability performance and holding ourselves accountable for our progress. SAP has set annual, medium-term, and long-term targets for a wide range of key performance indicators (KPIs), spanning environmental, social, and financial impacts. An overview of our goals can be found in the Corporate Goals section.

Certifying Our Management Approach

In addition to rigorous measurement of KPIs and transparency in our results, we take additional steps to enhance our management processes. Formalizing our approach to environmental improvements, we have established a global environmental management system according to the ISO 14001 standard.

To date, 33 SAP locations worldwide – in Austria, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Israel, Italy, South Africa, and the United States – have received ISO 14001 certification. We will continue to roll out the program globally. These certifications are published in the Sustainability at SAP – Environmental Management section on our public Web site

Evaluating Our Management Approach

We regularly review whether our strategy, programs, and initiatives are effective. For example, the sustainability team has quarterly review meetings with senior executives. We have also launched global internal audit programs for labor standards and human rights as well as for environmental management. While we view external ratings and rankings as a key reflection of our performance, the ultimate measure of our success is whether we achieve the goals we set for ourselves.

Driving Transformational Change in Our Behavior and Culture

Our efforts to become an exemplar of sustainability mainly focus on two areas to affect change: our processes and our people. Achieving our goals requires challenging and transforming old behaviors and ways of thinking. This journey helps us become more innovative as we tackle problems in new ways and design creative solutions. The engagement of our employees is essential, as their ideas and commitment help drive change throughout SAP. Our strategy combines organizational changes to embed sustainability into our business, as well as educational workshops, campaigns, and other forms of outreach to involve employees. Four key components of these efforts include:

  • A focus on transparency and awareness building
  • The need to make the benefits of change relevant and meaningful for our company and employees through communication, incentives, recognition, and other means
  • The existence of role models within SAP who demonstrate new behaviors and inspire others
  • The management of change by ensuring that the right processes and tools are in place

Employees learn about sustainability through workshops, special events, and other activities aimed at deepening the understanding of our holistic approach to sustainability while connecting to current global trends such as the ratification of the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals in 2015. In addition, deep-dive sessions are offered on areas such as sustainable enterprise mobility, procurement, IT, health, and diversity and inclusion as well as volunteering. We embedded the topic of sustainability into onboarding training for new hires as well as manager training. In addition to our overall sustainability dashboard, every employee can see our environmental performance through specific dashboards detailing impact, such as statistics on printing and commuting. In addition, we also focus our efforts on helping employees understand the relevance of sustainability – not only to their workplaces but also to their daily jobs and our core business – through workshops dedicated to specific organizations and functions within the company.

In 2015, we facilitated open dialog through coffee-corner sessions, virtual all-hands meetings, guided inspirational pavillon tours, and social media. Employees could find out how sustainability is connected to our vision to help the world run better and improve people’s lives. They learned of examples through customer impact stories as well as role model stories by SAP leaders and employees. We measure the success of our initiatives through our annual People Survey. In 2015, 90% of our employees agreed with the statement “It is important for SAP to pursue sustainability” compared to 91% in 2014 (and 77% in 2009). 80% of our employees stated “I actively contribute to SAP’s sustainability goals,” up from 74% in 2014 (and 46% in 2009).

Leading the Change

Our leaders also have a key role to play in helping us become more sustainable. For this reason, we continue to embed sustainability into leadership development programs. This includes demonstrating how actively managing topics such as work/life balance and talent development leads to greater business success in addition to employee engagement and satisfaction. The sustainability dashboard, created originally for senior leaders in 2013, helps our employees explore the connections between non-financial and financial performance with breakdowns and benchmarks. Employees can see how their team’s business travel contributes to our overall carbon footprint, along with financial implications of those results and how they compare to other teams. Compliant with all data privacy regulations, data on employee retention and women in management also helps create transparency on the social performance of our company. Since our last upgrade to the SAP product SAP Smart Business cockpit, executive edition, employees have automatic access to this data.

Network of Sustainability Champions

While sustainability requires strong leadership, it cannot be mandated from the top. Our employees help drive our progress throughout the company. We enlist a global internal network of more than 100 sustainability champions who represent different regions and lines of business at SAP. They dedicate 10% of their work time to promoting sustainability. Not only do they act as role models, but they also tailor sustainability to local and line-of-business needs and interests, and share best practices.

Our sustainability champions are a critical part of our governance strategy, which combines senior and local leadership with employee engagement to drive change at every level of SAP – from our daily operations to our overall vision to help the world run better and improve people’s lives.

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