Cloud software company SAP was recently championed by UK-based LGBT advocacy group Stonewall as one of its Top Global Employers. It’s an honour it shares with just 12 other global companies.
Lynn Pasterny, Global Workplace Programmes Manager, Stonewall UK, told GSN: ‘SAP is at the forefront of driving global LGBT inclusion in the workplace. At a time when global LGBT rights are under threat, we’re proud to work alongside our Top Global Employers like SAP, who operate in some extremely difficult contexts, to make sure all people are protected and welcome at work, wherever they are.’
Being named as one of the world’s top employers by an organization such as Stonewall is something the thrills many at SAP, but in particular Miguel Castro.
The 40-year-old Spaniard is a Senior Director with the company, and is its Lead for Culture & Identity, Global Diversity and Inclusion Office. He’s currently based at its offices in Madrid.
In short, he oversees everything relating to the brand’s cultural identity, which includes LGBT inclusion. He’s the main contact for all of SAP’s employee networks worldwide, including [email protected]
Externally to SAP, he’s also the President of Spanish LGBT Business Network, REDI, and a member of the global leadership council at the Netherlands-based Workplace Pride.
‘For us, it’s a great recognition,’ he says of the Stonewall placing. SAP has previously been recognized by on workplaces indexes in individual countries: it scores the top mark of 100 on HRC’s Corporate Equality Index in the US, for example. But the Stonewall honor looks at its activities globally.
SAP, which specializes in cloud and business technology, began life in Germany but now has over 94,000 employees and operates in 174 countries around the world. And according to Castro, the application and investigative process carried out by Stonewall is rigorous.
‘It’s a great benchmarking tool,’ he says. ‘It actually took us quite some time to analyse everything we’re doing, and to be able to provide ourselves with the dates and facts behind it. It’s also great recognition, and it shows us we’re going in the right direction. It’s something we’re really proud of.’
‘It was the first year we submitted the application, so it was “Wow – what a way to start!”’
‘Not just about focussing on our company alone’
What is it that SAP’s doing to edge ahead of rivals in its inclusion practices? Castro highlights the fact it was one of the first corporates in the world to endorse the United Nations’ recently-launched Global LGBTI Standards of Conduct.
Launched in September 2017, these were UN standards issued to businesses on how to treat LGBT employees. SAP lined up alongside the likes of Coca Cola, EY, Gap, Microsoft and Spotify to be one of the first 15 companies to pledge their support.
Castro says promoting diversity and inclusion means embedding it at every level of a business, from the top down. It’s ensuring all team members can communicate about LGBT inclusion both inside and outside of the company, and that managers are trained in inclusive leadership.
‘We are quite good at making sure our efforts do not only focus on our employees, but on also helping our customers. Our largest customer event is called SAPPHIRE. It took place in Orlando, Florida. We hosted a session together with Accenture’s CIO (Chief Information Officer) about how technology can drive business beyond bias, with LGBT inclusion in mind. It’s not just about focussing on our company alone, and Stonewall recognized that.’
Just under 10% of SAP workforce are part of its LGBT and allies network
Looking at how the company specifically supports its LGBT team members, Castro says its employee network has more than 8,000 members worldwide – both LGBT people and allies. That’s just under 10% of its workforce. It allocates a dedicated budget to the network’s work, such as helping people to participate in Pride events.
‘We’ve also been working with the transgender community for a long time. We had our first transition in 2005, and when we had second transition a year later, which led to us developing our gender transition guidelines. That was something we did more than ten years ago.
‘We provide gender neutral facilities in different locations. We think it’s important to have gender neutral facilities like changing rooms. And we started to look at the places where public health care doesn’t cover gender transition, so we have enhanced our transgender healthcare benefits in places like the US and Canada.’
SAP works with OUTstanding’s mentoring programme all over the world to help develop LGBT talent. It encourages senior LGBT figures in the company to become out role models attending Pride events and similar initiatives. This included Pride Month activities in India over the summer – ahead of the country’s Supreme Court decision to legalize gay sex.
Developing leadership talent
It is therefore no surprise that the Top 100 Out LGBT Executive list that was recently published in Germany includes three SAP senior leaders. One of them, Ernesto Marinelli, Senior Vice President, Head of Human Resources for Europe, Middle East, Africa and Greater China, placed third among the top 10.
SAP is also an active participant in RAHM, the Global LGBT Leadership Contest & Community. The annual event took place this year in Berlin and in London.
‘It’s a contest for LGBT people in which they are given the possibility to show their leadership skills. Around 100 contestant participate, with one emerging as the winner. It’s a cool event, and it shows our commitment to both the LGBT community and our commitment to leadership development.’
‘Diversity is a fact of humanity’
SAP is thrilled to have achieved its Stonewall recognition, but it also knows that when it comes to diversity and inclusion, there’s no resting on one’s laurels. Taking part in LGBT workplace indexes ensures it’s continually looking at its policies and procedures, and asking if it can do better.
It’s also a message it wants to emphasize with those it works with, in whichever country they are based.
‘Diversity is a fact of humanity,’ says Castro. ‘We are all diverse and the LGBT community exists all over the world. Inclusion is good for business. And at the end of the day, LGBT rights are human rights.
‘We do not allow any discrimination because of being LGBT, and neither do we allow that from our vendors when it comes to their own employees. It’s something that we have in our supplier code of conduct and that our suppliers have to agree with wherever they are in the world.’
SAP is a client of Gay Star News