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A sense of “belonging” is good for business

A 2016 Bersin study* reveals that diversity and inclusion practices are the biggest differentiating factors in business today – with diverse organizations faster to respond to change, more able to innovate, and better able to develop their employees and leaders. In fact, the study states that “building an inclusive culture” is now the #1 predictive strategy for global financial performance.”

An inclusive workplace provides a major advantage for organizations in today’s fiercely competitive market for top talent, and best-in-class companies welcome diverse individuals at every level of their organzations – diverse in terms of gender, nationality, generation, professional background, ethnicity, sexual orientation, physical capability, academic background, and experience.

But simply hiring a heterogeneous workforce is not necessarily the same as making everyone feel valued and appreciated. True inclusion is only achieved when people have a sense of “belonging” to an organization.

You can’t fake it. Trying to make your organization appear inclusive when people don’t feel a genuine sense of belonging will work against you — and undermine the very culture you are working to create. There’s no magic bullet, no overnight solution – building a truly impactful, inclusive culture takes hard work, a motivated and engaged workforce, and a long-term commitment at every level of your organization.

At SAP, we don’t profess to have all of the answers, but due to our ongoing dedication to we’ve have achieved in the area of diversity and inclusion – both internally, as well as for our customers.

We are extremely proud of our increasingly gender diverse workforce as we close in on our goal of 25% women in leadership by the end of 2017 (we’re currently at 24.3%). We’re proud to provide best-in-class working experiences for our female employees – including mentoring and leadership training. Our dedication and progress was validated when, in September, we became the first multi-national technology company to receive the Global Economic Dividends for Gender Equality (EDGE) certification.

SAP’s goal of providing an inclusive – and more innovative — environment where people truly feel they belong is embodied by our award-winning “Autism at Work” program. We currently employ over 100 colleagues with autism in a wide variety of positions, with an aim to have a workforce consisting of 1% individuals on the Autism spectrum.The program has already enabled countless success stories like this one featuring Silicon Valley colleague Mark Jessen.

Further, we at SAP are helping to eliminate bias in our own recruiting processes with tools that weed out biased language that could impact the types of applicants we interviea, and enables us to auto-match CVs with job postings. Our technology actively works to root out bias – conscious or unconscious — and allows us to tap into and engage a broader range of talent.

We are also limiting bias in the performance review process by moving toward a culture of continuous, two-way dialogue on performance and away form traditional “one-point-in-“accurate and often-biased rating.

Externally, we have implemented these bias filters and CV auto-matching into our SuccessFactors HCM software, enabling our customers to also take advantage of this important functionality – furthering our commitment to help organizations build a business beyond bias.

As Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer at SAP, I couldn’t be more proud that our software is leading the way in eliminating bias and making organizations more successful. I’m also extremely excited for what the future holds for technology’s fight against bias. As machine learning in particular continues to evolve, unconscious bias will, thankfully, be less and less of a factor when it comes to hiring, retaining, and promoting employees…and that makes for more inclusive workplaces.

Diversity, inclusiveness, and enabling a true sense of belonging are not just cultural “nice to haves.” They are imperative to innovation, customer satisfaction, and employee engament – and have a direct impact on the bottom line. At SAP, we’re proud to be leading by example, and are dedicated to enabling our organization – and our customers – to run better.

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