Part of the “Purpose-Driven CFO” series
When we hear the term diversity, some assume that it’s about fulfilling 50/50 equality quotas. Some shun diversity because they consider it an overwhelming challenge that seems unobtainable or counterintuitive to a skills-first approach. Those who know me well realize my passion about how I can contribute not only in Australia and New Zealand, but within our business globally. A modern, thriving workforce needs a holistic understanding of diversity – one that encompasses and embraces difference as an abundant resource rather than a requirement.
At SAP, we believe that business without bias drives both profitability and growth. This is reflected in a 4% increase in our profitability and 8% growth over the past 12 months. Diversity in the workplace results in a better understanding of our customers and employees because it allows our teams to work more cohesively as empathy and tolerance become intrinsic values. When diversity in the workforce is considered a business asset instead of a hindrance, finance leaders can utilize the rich perspectives it brings to champion innovation and drive organizational growth and business performance. Our world-renowned Autism at Work program is operating in 12 countries and employs more than 140 colleagues with autism. By embracing these differences, we not only challenge assumptions and inspire change, but spark our innovation as an organization.
Empathy and tolerance will become essential skills as diversity in our society increases and, in some cases, more valuable than traditional hard skills. With a growing workforce population, organizations can have up to five generations on one team. Mentoring programs that pair more experienced employees with their younger colleagues ensure that knowledge and information are shared. Not only does this foster cross-generational collaboration, but it has the added benefit of showing all employees that their unique experiences are valued, while also encouraging the professional development and retention of new employees.
Implementing diversity and inclusion programs ensures that SAP thrives because our employees have expansive intellectual and emotional capacities that allow them to innovate and create for the future. We have chosen to redefine what we consider talent and how we source talent because we know that our investment in people will create better technologies, improve customer experience, and have a significant impact on the innovations we make that improve people’s lives all over the world. Globally, 25% of our management team are women, demonstrating our commitment to gender parity.
While it has been the CFO’s responsibility to manage the scope of organizational operations, such as improving portfolio management and ensuring effective capital allocation, CFOs must also consider better planning for human capital management. These non-financial performance indicators, such as employee retention and business health culture index (BHCI), are front and center when we assess our organization’s value. By prioritizing these factors, we gain an opportunity to acquire fresh ideas, drive value, and engage with technology in a more profound way.
Our purpose as a company is delivered through solutions that consider multitudes of people and how our customers can leverage these to help improve people’s lives. Without a strong commitment to diversity in our own business, we simply wouldn’t be able to maintain this differentiation within our market – which is what ultimately leads to our success.