People, Planet and Profit – The true indicators of performance?

Sustainability principals have become an important indicator for the performance of a company. At the same time it is a competitive factor and a corporate goal. Our expert Paige Wei-Cox is analysing SAP’s commitment to sustainability. How can technology help to improve companies’ sustainability and environmental bottom line?

Paige Wei-Cox is the Global Vice President and Head of Digital Supply Chain Networks development organisation at SAP SE, with responsibility for driving cloud network and IoT solutions of Logistic Business Network, Global Track & Trace, Connected Worker Safety. Paige oversees both the strategic business and day to day operations of the development units in Germany, India, and China.

In her 18 years career with SAP, Paige held various management positions in the US and Germany, driving product development and application innovations as well as manufacturing and R&D strategy such as Industry 4.0 and digital supply chain.  Paige was also part of the key leadership team for SAP’s China Growth plan since 2014.

What is SAP’s commitment to sustainability?

Today SAP and other market leaders define success more broadly than just strong top and bottom line figures. The triple bottom line, People. Planet and Profit has become a true indicator of an organisations performance. Apart from financial performance, they look at their impact on the world – socially (People), environmentally (Planet), and economically (Profit). As Alexandra van der Ploeg has outlined in detail in her blog post “Sustainable Development in a Connected World”, many companies are committed to the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), where they spearhead a modern organisational culture and mindset. From SAP’s perspective, these principles and the promise to our customers to run their business more sustainably, establishes a common basis for a future in which we utilise our resources in a way that they are not depleted or damaged.

SAP is a leader in “Green Operations”, from Green Data Centers running on 100% renewable energy to reducing Carbon Emissions from flights and other transport modes through the use of technology to collaborate. I cannot state it better than what has been published in our latest earnings report

“In 2017, SAP announced a commitment to making our operations carbon neutral by 2025. This is the next logical step in our long-term greenhouse gas (GHG) avoidance strategy, which also includes an undertaking to reduce GHG emissions to levels of the year 2000 by 2020. This year, we met our 2020 target and are now well on track to becoming carbon neutral.”

I believe that this speaks to itself on the SAP commitment to sustainability and how this has now become the norm within the organisations culture.

How does the SAP commitment to sustainability affect your area, and you, as a female leader?

At SAP, sustainability is not only part of the corporate culture, but also our purpose and how we want to contribute to the customers. I believe that it is the responsibility of all leaders, male or female, to fully implement and adopt sustainability initiatives.

We provide an environment where our employees are encouraged to take part in our sustainability initiatives. Areas like car share, incentives for electric vehicles, cycle to work options amongst others are all key for our employees, both for sustainability and health. We also ensure employees can bring and build new ideas for sustainability options.

As Head of our Digital Supply Chain Networks development organisation I come across the many challenges that our customers face in their organisations, including environmental challenges. Many of our customers are trying to incorporate the principles of sustainability and environmental policies as an integral business process. As customers strive to meet the triple bottom line, the social, environmental and financial framework they need to ensure that they adhere to practices that enhance environmental sustainability. This I believe is a partnership between us (as a supplier), and our customer. Working together to achieve a bottom line impact that helps both the financial health of the organisation by creating new “green” initiatives for new products and services, and creating the sustainable future for our employees, customers and their families.

We at SAP as part of the Digital Supply Chain take these needs into account as we build our solutions. CEO’s and senior leaders I talk with have the sustainable supply chain as one of their top agenda topics. I believe that as a core business process, any change we can make in the supply chain, by using technology, from removing CO2 emissions by optimising transportation and removing paper processes in areas like certification. So, while we are digitising the Supply Chain, we are also providing opportunities for our customers to change their existing business practices to those that are sustainable for the environment. The aim is to digitise and enhance the sustainability of the Supply Chain.

How do you see how technology can help business improve their sustainability and environmental bottom line?

For us, it’s not just a technology that we promote. It is technology that can solve our customer’s business problems. We have worked together with our customers to understand how intelligent ERP with Blockchain and AI can increase productivity, reduce their time and efforts and digitise their certification processes. A different level of trust is established between the participants within processes like exchanging substance data and ensuring product compliance while collaborating with your supplier. The use of blockchain technology can tremendously change the whole process in terms of trust and flexibility.

But that is just one example. Utilising Geospatial technologies to visualise and optimise their supply chain transportation options. Provide localised distribution and just in time delivery for products or goods. All of these options can significantly decrease environmental impacts like the reduction of CO2.

Let’s just think about new business models, where companies develop new products based on sensor data that provides them instant insights, for example, on the health of their customers or how they can optimise machine usage. Our purpose driven development is not just a single topic anymore, it effects the whole supply chain and changes the business models and strategy.

How would you summarise SAP’s approach?

SAP is a role model within the topic of sustainability. We are a purpose driven company where we have the chance to leverage new technology to serve this purpose and our customers. SAP follows our overall goal to RUN and INNOVATE with a purpose, helping the world run better and improving people’s lives. How does your organisation lead with putting the planet (Environmental and Sustainable projects) first? Does your organisation measure their performance using the triple bottom line and how as an individual do you contribute?

Do not hesitate to get in touch with me on other emerging questions, for example in which direction future collaboration might evolve.

Will we have simplified and automated network-to-network communication? Will we have self-organising business ecosystems, systems beyond company boundaries developing to high performing value chains?

SAP is the world’s largest business software company. We serve some of the most amazing customers – and we always have exciting projects on the go. Our mission is to Run Simple, and we’re big on using our technological and business know-how to make the world a better place.
Our people are innovators, leaders, and all around great human beings. They come from many different countries, speak many different languages – and bring their own unique experiences to the table. At SAP, you’ll flourish in an environment that encourages free expression, collaboration, individuality, and diversity.
Gender equality is an important part of our mission – and we’re committed to having at least 28% women in leadership by 2020 and 30 percent in 2022.

Reflections on Diversity, Parity and Equality

In the exclusive interview with Martina Macpherson, speaker at the Global Female Leaders 2018, we are celebrating women's achievements but also discussing past developments and key equality issues. How do you achieve constant positive performance with gender diverse teams? And most importantly, how will the female workforce change in future?