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Personal Insights

Month of Service (13/15) – 10 Years of Sustainability Champions in SAP Locations All Over the World

This October, SAP Global Month of Service goes into its 15th round! Are you ready?
Kicking off the celebration early, we are proud to be sharing a selection of 15 inspiring volunteer experiences over the coming weeks leading up to the beginning of October.
SAP Global Month of Service, it is our company’s largest volunteer initiative. In 2018, employees volunteered in more than 900 projects in communities around the world. And it doesn’t stop with Month of Service! Our employees are leading meaningful volunteer events year-round, when and where the need arises.

This week,  Luisa Dieterle has talked to some of our Sustainability Champions at SAP, who have been leading impactful initiatives all over the globe for years. Diving into their personal journeys within the Sustainability Champions Network, Luisa shares inspiring insights of how SAP employees are creating positive social, environmental and economic change by following their own passion.


2019 marks the 10-year-anniversary of SAP’s Sustainability Journey, and right from the start of this journey, the company has sought out the commitment of SAP employees to help drive the change towards a best-run, sustainable company. In 2009, the SAP Sustainability Champions Network (SCN) was launched as an internal global network that promotes and spreads sustainability, shares ideas on how to create positive social, environmental and economic impact and exchanges best practices. The network of Sustainability Champions has since grown to 218 members worldwide who dedicate about 10% of their working hours towards promoting sustainability at SAP. Those champions regularly cooperate with colleagues from related networks such as CSR Volunteer Ambassadors, Diversity Champions and Health Ambassadors – united by SAP’s vision and purpose to help the world run better and improve people’s lives.

Cristina Antelo and Amanda Maguire were two of the first ones to join the network, and they are still part of it today, leading many initiatives in their respective locations.

Small Actions Done Every Day Make a Real Difference
Amanda, who is based in London, was already personally interested in sustainability when she joined SAP. Because of that she got a “Green Team UK” started, consisting of her and two other Sustainability Champions, as well as many local volunteers supporting SAP’s global sustainability goals. They strive to improve awareness and enforce SAP’s Global Environmental Policy with activities such as dumpster dives to learn how much single-use plastic has been trashed, as well as the introduction of reusable coffee mugs to SAP employees as a solution to the single-use plastics problem. Sometimes, however, it can be a challenge to motivate people to change and, in many cases, this is because they think they either must do all or nothing.
But Amanda is trying to get the message across: “No you don’t have to do everything, but that doesn’t mean don’t bother at all!” Even if people take part in an event once a year, that still is a valuable contribution. Another important point for Amanda is that being part of the network is linked to personal responsibility:

“You could say that one who is up on stage and makes some big speech or runs some big event is the visible and significant one, but I’m a great advocate for the idea that small actions done every day are actually the thing that change ourselves, make a real difference and have other people notice as well.”

Walking the talk, she always brings her reusable cup and reusable water bottle, so colleagues and customers can see that change is possible and easy to adopt, too.

“It’s Amazing How It Has Evolved.”
Cristina from Enterprise Support in Spain still remembers the early days of the Sustainability Champions Network. “We started off with quick wins such as the campaign to print less. The more recent projects champions are working on have an even bigger impact because they have moved closer to SAP’s core business.”
One of her favorite projects is the “Improve your employability with SAP” program – a skills-based volunteer initiative helping long-term unemployed people to gain SAP skills and soft skills by offering internships and technology training, so they can rejoin the labor market. During the first year after the training, Cristina follows up regularly with the participants, and states, that about 75% of the formerly unemployed people have now rejoined the labor market over the last years, and many of them are now working within the SAP ecosystem. She believes that this activity “helps to break the crystal glass” because it supports “people to get jobs they would not have gotten without this specific and tailor-made training.”
But not only the participants taking part in the program are improving their skills. Cristina believes that planning and taking part in volunteering activities within the network also improves her own personal and professional skillset. What motivates her is not only the fact that she can work on something that is her passion, but also having the possibility to speak to people from different board areas and manager levels, grow her network internally and externally and work on her personal project management skills. This allows her to not only grow individually but also professionally while engaging for sustainability.

Gain New Insights and Improve the World
When Zachary Markin, from SAP’s Chicago office, joined the SCN, he mainly did so because, like Amanda, he already was passionate for sustainability in his everyday life, and he wanted to “take advantage of the opportunity SAP offer[ed] to contribute on a larger scale.” Since then, he has used the SCN platform to organize several meaningful events. For last year’s Month of Service and Spring into Service, Zach led his Chicago colleagues on volunteer outings to Misericordia, which offers a community of care that maximizes potential for persons with mild to profound developmental disabilities.
However, volunteering as a Sustainability Champion can be challenging in some SAP locations where there is only a small number of Sustainability Champions. So whenever a cause is close to Zach’s heart, he needs to take the initiative himself to trigger action. Furthermore, Zach states that it can be challenging to “align all [the] different [SAP] office locations to work together toward a common goal”, so a lot of collaboration is needed. But the “can-do” attitude among the Sustainability Champions prevails and the responses from Zach’s colleagues in general are very positive. “They are inquisitive and eager to learn more about my experiences”, he says.

Even though it may be challenging sometimes, one thing unites all employees in their efforts: their ambition to help the world run better and improve people’s lives. According to Zach, the best tip to employees who would like to engage in an employee engagement group is: “Find a cause that is close to your heart and/or your home and get involved.” Because after all, corporate volunteering is a “fun way to work alongside your colleagues”, gain new insights, enrich your everyday work life and improve the world as a side-effect!


You would like to learn more about SAP’s Corporate Social Responsibility strategy and programs? Check out our 2018 Ebook or visit sap.com.

You can find out more about SAP’s Sustainability Impact and Operations, by visiting our Website.

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