What It Takes For A Company To Become an Award-Winning CSR Leader

Alexandra Nemeth

Senior Manager, Content Marketing & Storytelling at MovingWorlds

For more than 20 years, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s Citizens Awards have highlighted how corporations serve as a force for good, expanding opportunity and driving progress.

This year, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation named SAP as Best Corporate Steward, a well-deserved honor recognizing its work facilitating a more inclusive and sustainable economy through both its core business, as well as its innovative social responsibility strategy.

But what exactly is corporate stewardship, and what does it take to be the best? In this post, we’ll look at the different facets of corporate stewardship, and the innovative approaches SAP has taken to become an industry-leading example for others to follow.

Defining Corporate Stewardship

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation defines a corporate steward as “a company that conducts its business in a way that creates “shared value.” This means (1) creating value for shareholders, (2) delivering high-quality products and services to customers, (3) providing a great place to work for employees, (4) supporting the well-being and development of communities near and far, (5) reducing environmental footprint, and (6) helping suppliers to deliver shared value too.”

Embodying corporate stewardship takes more than a single program or initiative – it involves truly embedding social responsibility and innovation into the core of your business. Below, we’ll look at the innovative ways that SAP has done that along each of the 6 dimensions of corporate stewardship, and how your company can, too.

How SAP Creates Shared Value Along the 6 Dimensions of Corporate Stewardship

Screenshot of SAP’s 2021 impact report

Creating Business Value

SAP’s sustainability strategy creates positive economic, environmental, and social impact with a focus on climate action, circular economy, social responsibility, and holistic steering and reporting – making sustainability profitable, and profitability sustainable. As part of that strategy, it has centered its corporate citizenship efforts around accelerating a new type of business entity that is pioneering a green, inclusive society and economic system: the social enterprise. Engaging and empowering social enterprise leaders on the front lines of social innovation fosters a two-way exchange of insights that helps SAP create better products, develop better leaders, build more sustainable value chains, and stay ahead of the sustainable business curve. Responsible companies, like SAP, integrate stewardship in every aspect of their business (here are 10 ways to do that.) 

Delivering High-Quality Products to Customers

As the world’s leading enterprise resource planning (ERP) software vendor, SAP’s technology is used by more than 250 million users worldwide to manage critical business processes. The global reach and market penetration of SAP’s brand and products uniquely position it to shape the future of business, and SAP has taken an active role in terms of modeling sustainability as a primary focus from a product perspective. For example, SAP technology enables business leaders to quantify, analyze, and act on real-time data establishing a sustainability line, in addition to top and bottom lines. SAP has launched a number of solutions to ensure its technology is accessible and inclusive, including SAP Responsible Design and Production, which enables companies to design products sustainably by embracing principles of circularity. 

Providing a Great Place to Work for Employees

Internal employee survey data shows that 94% of SAP employees believe in its corporate purpose to help the world run better and improve people’s lives. To support them, SAP significantly invests in connecting employees to their purpose, growing their skills, and achieving both their personal and professional goals while cultivating an inclusive leadership culture. Last year, more than 20,000 employees volunteered their time and expertise. In fact over the last decade, employees have dedicated 100,000+ hours to pro bono consulting engagements globally through programs like the SAP Social Sabbatical. Leveraging the TRANSFORM Support Hub, SAP has been able to scale programs like its Acceleration Collective to increase sense of purpose, broaden perspectives, and facilitate a two-way exchange of innovation for its global employee base. (For more about the impact of these programs, read the case study here.)

Supporting the Well-being & Development of Communities Near and Far

Financial and non-financial support for social enterprises is an integral part of SAP’s CSR, sustainability, and in turn corporate strategy. SAP enables thousands of employees to lend their expertise to solve social enterprises’ systemic and business challenges through pro-bono consulting via the TRANSFORM Support Hub and partnerships with other impact enablers, like PYXERA Global, unlocking new opportunities for social impact and leadership development at scale. 

SAP enables social enterprises to access new markets via social procurement, and builds infrastructure with a multi-sector ecosystem where it doesn’t exist. Looking ahead, SAP has reinforced its partnership with UNICEF and Generation Unlimited, announcing the SAP Educate to Employ initiative, a program that supports learning-to-earning pathways in the digital and green economies for youth in need. Additionally, to help combat the global refugee crisis, SAP is fulfilling associate and bachelor’s degree scholarships with University of the People, the first nonprofit, tuition-free, American-accredited online university dedicated to global access to higher education.

Reducing Environmental Footprint

SAP is working to become carbon-neutral in its own operations by the end of 2023, two years earlier than planned. One way they do that is also by integrating social enterprises that prioritize environmental impact into their value chain. Beyond reducing its own environmental footprint, SAP also works across company lines to establish globally understood frameworks that can be universally adopted. As a founding member of the Value Balancing Alliance, SAP works alongside a cohort of multinational corporations to integrate and standardize non-financial indicators like carbon emissions, waste, and education into corporate reporting. Its technology solutions, like SAP Cloud for Sustainable Enterprises, also help companies manage their carbon footprint and reduce material waste.

Helping Suppliers Deliver Shared Value

Through its partnership with the TRANSFORM Support Hub, SAP enables current and prospective social enterprise suppliers to access pro bono support, network connections, and other scale-up support. SAP also continues to invest in technology, like its Ariba platform, to help other companies engage in social procurement to incorporate more diverse, sustainable, and social businesses into the global economy.

What sets SAP apart is its holistic and integrated approach to social responsibility – and a key element of that is partnering with impact ecosystem actors, particularly in infrastructure building, to compound the impact of its contributions at scale. To learn more about how SAP partnered with the TRANSFORM Support Hub, powered by MovingWorlds, to scale its ESG, employee engagement, and leadership development efforts, check out our full case study here. If you’re looking for a scalable solution to embed the elements of corporate stewardship into the core of your company, get in touch to see what the TRANSFORM Support Hub can do for you!