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Making the Software Industry A Little More Inclusive

This blog post is co-authored by SAP Executive Board member Thomas Saueressig

In the software industry, for years, we have thoughtlessly used terminology such as “master and slave” and “whitelist and blacklist” to define processes and classify data. Some might say that these terms have no significance since they aren’t describing people and hence, there is no racist intent. But language has a huge impact on values and cultural norms. Language expresses and reinforces culture. Language encourages us to develop behavioral habits and patterns of thinking that shape our experience.

As part of our commitment to social justice and equality, we acknowledge and take action towards offensive and insensitive language used in the software industry. Unconscious bias, such as using certain terminology, contributes to everyday discrimination and indignities and leads to negative emotions and psychological stress for Black people and other people of color. Therefore, we have decided to replace insensitive terms with inclusive language that is free from expressions or words that reflect prejudice.

It was important for us to take a holistic approach to this project. The new terminology we are introducing today is not an exercise in word-for-word replacements, but rather a thoughtful discussion based on research and best practices at SAP and across the industry. We looked carefully at the use of the terms in English and German across our entire product portfolio, as sensitive and mindful terminology doesn’t always transfer. Moving forward, thanks to a true, cross company effort, we will not only have a technically accurate nomenclature but a terminology that is inclusive and descriptive.

The new terms with guidance from SAP terminology experts, as well as applicable references in German, are available now, here on the SAP Help Portal.

Addressing insensitive language is only one aspect of inclusion. We must all understand the important role each of us plays in fighting discrimination, including taking a stand against racism to drive change inside and outside of our organizations. Together we can ensure that equality becomes a reality.

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  • A great idea. And a difficult switch for the thinking.

    Example “Unconscious bias, such as using certain terminology, contributes to everyday discrimination and indignities and leads to negative emotions and psychological stress for Black people and other people of color. ”

    “Black people and other people of color.” White is a color too. But the meening of this sentance is every colors except white ! We could think we are not equal.

    Words transport a culture with them. When SAP change in 2004 it’s HR solution’s name from “Human Resources” to “Human Capital Management” it told things. It didn’t put the employee in the center of the focus !

    We must continue together.