Creative and supportive, with a high level of social sensitivity as well as strong communication skills: Women are the key ingredient to run the world effectively! These attributes also apply to business and especially to technology. With their diverse innate abilities, women do not only contribute to a balanced, holistic approach to business today, they also foster innovation and allow business to grow.
History has shown that women have had to face many challenges through the ages. They kept fighting for their rights and held their opposition to discouragement. It was a long journey of hard work to get where we are today. The momentum is in full effect, and we at SAP don’t want this development to stand still now.
Women in Technology – start making an impact
Following this mission a new internal series of events on Women in Technology at SAP started on June 30. The event was kicked off at the SAP AppHaus in Heidelberg by Lone Aggersbjerg, VP Chief Operations of P&I at SAP, who is very passionate about this topic and organizes the event series. The aim of this series is to create a platform within SAP that provides the opportunity to network in an atmosphere that fosters open discussions as well as creativity. The event’s format consists of breakout sessions running in parallel enabling the participants to express their opinions within groups to share their insights and inspiring each other. The first event was organized to exchange ideas and opinions on the topic the “Future of Work.” Interesting questions like, “How are women shaping the technology workplaces of the future?” and “What must we do to ensure our workplaces attract and retain great female technical talents?” were discussed.
70 ambitious women from different areas of SAP came together, highly motivated to make an impact that matters. After being briefed on the event format, the participants were welcomed by Eva Zauke, VP IoT & Digital Supply Chain at SAP. She pointed out the enrichment women constitute for technology and why for them it is important to always communicate about who they are and what they do. Inspired by those thoughts the participants started active discussions within the following breakout sessions and in the end, came up with great conclusions and ideas. In the first event of the series, the participants were offered three different breakout session topics. It was up to them to decide which session to join for the next one and a half hours:
- Future of work – the Human Side of Digital Transformation – led by Sarah Traeutlein, Product Specialist & Executive Assistant at Innovation Center Network – Future of Work at SAP
- Get inspired by the Intrapreneurship Program – led by Josefine Harzmann, Developer at Ruum by SAP
- Turn up the volume – increase your influence with social media – led by Malin Liden, Digital Marketing Senior Manager at SAP
The future of work is now
When Paul Polman, CEO of Unilever, launched the company’s sustainable living plan – a program that, among others, aimed to double sales while halving the environmental impact of the company’s products – in November 2010, people doubted it was possible to combine profitability with environmental and social goals. However, he succeeded and outperformed the competition today. Following this example brings along new challenges and requires change – change in thinking, decision making, leadership, organizational structures, paradigms and much more. In this context, diversity plays a key role as well. The question, the participants dealt with within this breakout session was, to what extent and how diversity affects the future of work and what chances and risks might arise in that regard. The active participation in this discussion and the drive by which ideas and insights were shared was eye opening. Sarah, who led this session is still impressed by the passion of the team members and therefore is convinced that when there is a real purpose in a company, you will manage to reach your goals. What is certain as of now is that there is a lot more to discover in the area of “Future of Work” and many projects and challenges await us.
Only 15 percent of tech start-up founders are female
… and the percentage is even lower in Germany. Meanwhile, Bloomberg states, female-funded or female-led companies achieve an ROI that on average is 35 percent higher than that of men-led companies. But what is it that prevents young talented women from accepting this kind of challenge and becoming a founder? What can we do to overcome the current obstacles? Josefine, who led this breakout session can provide experiences and insights on that – she successfully participated in the SAP intrapreneurship program that helps passionate and creative entrepreneurs with a powerful vision to build a game-changing startup inside of SAP. Under her influence, the project Ruum emerged, that will certainly change the way we all work (see here: www.ruumapp.com). The combination of knowledge, practical experience and vision within this breakout sessions enabled the team to come up with new findings and ideas to shape the future. One of the many key messages that arose was that there is no need to have a fully worked out business plan when it comes to founding a start-up. Having the idea is enough at the beginning – the rest will naturally follow step by step. Be brave and follow your path to make the start-up scene more female.
A lion needs no introduction in the jungle
… but you need one in business! And you know what? No one is going to do this for you. You have to become active yourself.
Women in technology have so much expertise and knowledge to share. But still, they are under-represented at conferences, in panels, interviews and other places where people share their knowledge in public. Is it because they are perceived as knowing less or are less inclined to contribute? Absolutely not! What we need is more visibility. So, turn up the volume and make sure you are seen and heard. According to a saying, if a door is locked, you have to look for the window to climb through. This window is social media. You don’t need an invitation to get access to platforms that allow you to shine the light on your expertise – pave the way yourself and create your brand using social media. As Malin, the lead of this breakout session, states in her must-read blog article, Speaking up is a responsibility – Turn up the volume!, on LinkedIn. By sharing and engaging publicly, we become visible role models for other women, for younger students and professionals who are considering a career in technology. By making yourself visible, you therefore not only push your career but also contribute to strengthening the female community in technology. And this, dear reader, is how we have to drive change in technology as well as in other industries.
Within this breakout session, the members were discussing interactively how to leverage their visibility through cross-linking, what is important when blogging and on which channels to position articles and thoughts to reach the most audience. In the end, the breakout session group came up with many valuable insights and recommendations. One of them was always to focus your efforts to have a clear message and build up a strong brand. It also includes sharing content more consciously – don’t spam by lazily retweeting content or using empty phrases but provide your audience with an added value that at the same time shapes your brand.
Successful start of an impactful event series
The attendees left the SAP AppHaus more confident with a stronger willingness to shape the future of work. Inspired by female role models such as Sinead Kaiya, COO of Products & Innovation at SAP, who is very active and passionate about the topic women in technology, or Maggie Chan Jones, CMO at SAP, who has long been an advocate for female leadership, particularly in technology, the attendees have a clear mission to follow now. They can stand up, be proud, raise voices to be visible and get credit for what they do.
A few days ago, SAP officially announced that it has reached its 2017 goal to increase the number of women in management positions from 18% in 2011 to 25% in 2017. This is a great success showing us that it is worth standing up for this topic and making the female community in tech more visible.
What is your company doing to strengthen the influence and visibility of women? Join us in our mission and share your experiences and thoughts on this.
Together we can make a difference that matters!
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