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SAP Wants to Host Your Next Sustainability Report

Reporting is shaping up to be one of the hot topics of the year, with the upcoming Amsterdam GRI Conference laying the groundwork for the future of the standard, and a number of recent reports and events exploring the importance of CSR reporting as a way to prove your firm is walking your talk and engaging with stakeholders.

So it is perhaps fitting that SAP, the business software giant with an eye increasingly focused on measuring and reporting environmental data, is unveiling its third annual sustainability report this week.

The new report, which will be posted at, highlights a major shift that SAP is undertaking, and one that it hopes its customers and other companies will undergo as well.

"[The days of] putting a PDF on your website and waiting for people to find it and download it are over," Peter Graf, SAP's Chief Sustainability Officer, told members of the media in a preview call this week. "We want to use technology to get stakeholders' feedback and input."

To that end, the company has created an in-depth website to showcase its sustainability data. The report is broken down into four sections -- an overview, its own performance, how its solutions enable sustainability in other companies, and a feedback section -- and has enabled reader comments on each section of the website.

And SAP is going to lengths to promote the idea of conversations and feedback from its stakeholders.

"We believe we're all on a joint journey to sustainability," Scott Bolick, SAP's vice president of Sustainability Strategies, said during the call. "Those conversations with customers and employees generate ideas, and we wanted to create a forum where we could share and capture those ideas."

SAP will judge the reporting project a success if it gets "10 significant ideas from comments" on the report, Bolick explained, adding: "Then we've gotten to the heart of a community dialogue."

Graf told the attendees on the press call that there are five audiences for the report:

  1. SAP customers who need to ensure that SAP complies with their supplier codes of conduct;
  2. Potential employees, especially the younger generation just out of college or graduate school -- Graf said that 10 percent of the readers of last year's sustainability report were seeking employment at SAP;
  3. Companies that want to learn from SAP's example of how to calculate costs and emissions and set goals to reduce them;
  4. Potential customers that are thinking about using SAP's solutions; and
  5. For SAP's employees themselves, who want to see how the company is doing and to know that it is making strides on reducing environmental impacts.

"This whole sustainability move for SAP is pretty much also driven by our own believe that we can't survive if we don't embrace sustainability head-on," Graf said. "Five to 10 years from today we won't be able to sell our products if they don't embrace sustainability, and our people understand that."

Because SAP's reporting website is based on the company's own software platforms, there is obviously a business opportunity for the company. Graf said the company has put a large amount of effort into building the site because of the constant feedback the company got from customers asking if they could do their reporting based on the same model that SAP uses for its own reporting.

To dig in to SAP's sustainability report, and to join in the conversation, visit

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