Sustainability: Leo’s Legacy
I wrote a post over on my RedMonk blog, but I figured some of the content was probably most relevant to the SCN community. So here it is:
“Before Leo took the CEO role SAP had a fairly traditional approach to Corporate Social Responsibility and Citizenship. They had one of the best guys in the space – James Farrar – making contacts, winning friends, and helping steer corporate ships to better outcomes. I met Transparency International through James. Indeed- James helped me understand that CSR is relevant to business, rather than just being a less than benign form of PR. But CSR still felt a little homespun at the company.
Until Leo pulled the trigger, that is. He created the role of Chief Sustainability Officer and gave it to one of SAP’s rising stars, Peter Graf. Here is Graf getting excited about cutting paper use. Sustainability at SAP had to be sustainable, which meant making it a product-driven activity that was going to help the top and bottom line. Apotheker made sustainability a watch word of his tenure – presenting his ideas at CeBIT for example.
I am currently chairing of a group of external stakeholders advising SAP on its Sustainability Reporting and Strategy. I am not being paid directly for my role, but I do have a client relationship with the sustainability business unit. The stakeholder panel is pretty stellar – Bill “Cradle to Cradle” McDonough is one of the advisers! The project’s sponsor, who we were set to report to next Month – none other than Leo Apotheker. Leo takes a personal interest in sustainability. He wasn’t interested in a corporate fig leaf, but growing a big tree with deep roots.
SAP’s Sustainability product strategy is in increasingly good shape. The firm has built and bought new technology to fill out its portfolio, linking Governance, Risk And Compliance with environmental concerns such as Health and Safety and Chemicals Reporting. My colleague Tom Raftery writes up SAP’s Sustainability KPI tool here.
Leo’s legacy is that he took Sustainability seriously and made it part of SAP’s spine, rather than being a fingers and toes activity. I just wanted to take this opportunity to thank Leo for continuing to stress the importance of sustainability even as the economy collapsed.