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Author's profile photo Kim Lessley

Diversity and Inclusion Reflections from SuccessConnect 2020

If you didn’t get a chance to attend one of our two virtual SuccessConnect events in October, there is still time. Register to watch on demand to learn more about SAP SuccessFactors’ Human Experience Management (HXM) vision and strategy, product highlights, and thought leadership, and hear how the SAP SuccessFactors HXM Suite is helping business leaders and everyday employees within customers like Microsoft, Bentley Motors, Corning and Cargill.

SuccessConnect programming included lively customer roundtables to discuss important topics and exchange ideas. These included three roundtables focused on supporting diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I) with technology, and one on race in corporate America and associated leadership challenges. Below are some of the findings from these roundtables.

Diversity, equity and inclusion maturity progression

Organizations early in their DE&I journey tend to focus on diversity; they try to ensure they have a good representation of employees from various identities and backgrounds. They are also more tactical in their approach, where programs are more piecemeal, siloed and not directly tied to business needs. Examples include holding diversity job fairs, establishing affinity groups and holding monthly celebrations or events embracing diverse groups. While these are undoubtably important, they should be tied together in a cohesive strategy.

As organizations mature in their DE&I journey, they start to integrate diversity and inclusion programs, practices and infrastructure more in the talent lifecycle and tie them to specific business outcomes. The focus shifts to equity and inclusion with the understanding that unless individuals feel like they belong in the organization and they are being treated fairly, they will not thrive and will eventually disengage and leave.

Biggest challenges

We asked participants to specify the biggest challenges blocking their organizations from making truly meaningful progress in DE&I efforts. The top responses could be grouped into three main themes of accountability, commitment and culture.

  • Accountability – this included ensuring that diversity measures are tracked and transparently reported so that stakeholders (leadership, employees, customers, shareholders, etc.) understand what progress is being made toward goals.
  • Commitment – gaining executive alignment, senior management buy in, along with the necessary investment of time, resources and money.
  • Culture – inclusion and belonging are dependent on an organization’s culture, which means needing to consider leadership behaviors, change management, eliminating bias, and breaking old habits.



Biggest challenge in driving meaningful change for DE&I

Focus of diversity and inclusion efforts

Up to now, most organizations have focused their diversity and inclusion work on the start of the employee lifecycle to ensure a diverse set of applicants apply for jobs and are brought into the organization. This makes sense in that you can’t be a diverse organization if you don’t have a diverse employee population. Studies have shown, however, that as employees progress through their careers, the gap of pay and progression widens between majority populations and underrepresented groups. This demonstrates the need to focus more on who is developed, recognized, rewarded and promoted.

A quick poll of attendees asked to choose only one area of focus for DE&I efforts bore this out. The most popular choice of where to focus was on who is promoted, while there were still many votes for the beginning of employee lifecycle to ensure a diverse set of applicants apply for jobs and are hired.

Where to focus DE&I efforts first

Accountability and measurement

In order to make meaningful change in an organization, you need to be able to measure and understand your workforce, e.g. who applies, who is hired, who is developed, who is recognized and rewarded, who is promoted, and who leaves and when. This helps focus your efforts and keep you accountable.

At SAP, for example, we’ve been on a journey to increase the representation, not only of women but also other underrepresented groups in the workforce. We’re at about 33 percent women in our workforce and that’s great in comparison with peers in our industry, but that’s not enough for SAP. We want to be a leader and will continue to drive towards greater diversity overall. We set a commitment to achieve 30 percent women in leadership by 2022 and we are well on our way with just over 27 percent.

We asked participants to rate which DE&I metrics are most important to measure and which ones they are actually measuring. It was interesting to see that many organizations are not measuring a lot of these metrics. On the other hand, it was unsurprising to see recruiting metrics as the most often cited as measured as well as that promotions were voted most important to track – especially in light of the importance this group places on focusing on who is promoted. It was also not surprising that customer and supplier diversity were ranked as low as they were, considering SuccessConnect attracts a majority HR attendees. However, we at SAP believe that procurement with purpose and ensuring diverse suppliers is more and more important.

Most important DE&I metrics  

I am proud of the event we put on and felt it really showcased who SuccessFactors is as a company – the high-quality products we bring to market, the engaging, authentic, quirky people behind the products and our smart, passionate customers.

Learn more about how the SAP SuccessFactors HXM Suite supports diversity, equity and inclusion.

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