Starting any new job can be a nerve-racking experience, and naturally all kinds of questions will be firing around your mind before you start. What are the people like? How is the culture? How much responsibility will I have? Can I make my mark?
Leila Romane joined SAP eight months ago and almost immediately realised that SAP was very different to the norm.
‘One of the first things that struck me was seeing people bring their kids into the office. Struggles with childcare happen, sometimes they’re wholly unavoidable. So, seeing that SAP is sympathetic and accommodating to this was a real eye-opener to the culture of the business.’
And it’s not just lip-service. At SAP UK & Ireland recently joined, Jens Amail, MD, organised an away day for families of employees.
For Leila, it’s heartening that SAP acknowledges that those in the business have a life outside work and encourages balance.
‘There’s something to be said for spending time with people outside of work with their families and partners. You get to know them in a very different way, not just as colleagues but as people. That really helps the dynamic in the office.’
Leila says the company fully supports and appreciates the benefits of embracing a diverse workforce. It has employee networks for women, LGBT+ people and allies, and has just set-up a group for black and minority ethnic (BAME) staff in the UK.
Moreover, it leads by example; SAP’s LGBT+ network participated in this year’s Pride in London parade in July. Romane herself is active in SAP’s Women’s Business Network.
Business Beyond Bias
As an organization, SAP is committed to creating an inclusive, fun work environment for all. To this end, it’s launched its Business Beyond Bias’s initiative in a bid to promote and foster a culture of inclusivity.
Business Beyond Bias is a company-wide leadership initiative to tackle and eliminate the issue of unconscious bias. It includes addressing the organisation’s policy and procedures while encouraging the establishment of network groups.
‘The programme is focused on gender equality, functional diversity, the LGBT+ community and more. We’ve got a programme centred around getting those on the autism spectrum into work. Moreover, we’ve been doing a lot around mental health for mental health awareness week. Essentially the initiative is in place to promote inclusivity in all its guises.’
SAP’s approach has been widely recognised, you only have to look at the business’s recent awards: Great Places to Work 2018; Glassdoor Best Places to Work 2018; Top Employer 2018; and EDGE Certified (Gender Equality) 2018.
‘This is about me helping other people grow and develop’
It’s not difficult to see just why Leila is so happy in her role at SAP. So, what advice does she have for others navigating their careers?
‘Be authentic. Always be yourself. You don’t have to fit into a mould. Don’t try to be something that you’re not. That’s always put me in good stead.!
‘Another thing I would say for anyone setting out is try to find two or three good coaches/mentors.’
This may be particularly pertinent advice in light of a recent survey by a leading recruiter that found almost three-quarters of Brits don’t have a career mentor. A fifth of those polled said they had no idea how to find one. Leila now realises their importance.
‘When I was young, I was asked to ensure I had a mentor, and I wondered, “What’s this going to give me?” But I’ve since had a couple of mentors. One has been consistent and I’ve seen for the past 15 years. It works well for me because they were very different to how I am. In between that, I’ve had others every few years just to balance out the one I consistently had, again offering a balanced view.
‘And lastly, bring other people with you. It’s not just about me looking upwards. This is about me helping other people grow and develop, and bringing those people with me.’