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It’s been a great year for the SAP LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) community. And as of Wednesday of last week, there’s something new to celebrate. SAP for the third year in a row earned a perfect score of 100 percent for its support for LGBT employees from the Human Rights Campaign, the United States’ largest organization dedicated to LGBT equality.

SAP Silicon Valley Marches in the San Francisco Pride Parade

Each year the Human Rights Campaign conducts a Corporate Equality Index (CEI) survey that evaluates over 1000 businesses. The CEI evaluates companies’ LGBT-related policies and practices including nondiscrimination workplace protections, domestic partner benefits, transgender-inclusive healthcare benefits, competency programs and public engagement with the LGBT community.

This is the third year in a row that SAP’s support of LGBT employees resulted in a 100 percent ranking and designation as a “Best Place to Work for LGBT Equality.”

SAP’s achievements are due to the efforts of Pride@SAP, the company’s global network and advocacy group for LGBT employees. I spoke with David Ramsay, a Program Manager at the SAP Design and Co-Innovation Center. A core member of the Pride@SAP North America chapter, David drives SAP’s engagement with The Human Rights Campaign.

David said that in the early days of the index, SAP lagged behind competitors like Oracle and Microsoft. For example, in 2006 SAP achieved 68 percent vs. 80 and 100 percent for Oracle and Microsoft respectively.

So what accounts for the jump to 100 percent? David thinks it is a combination of factors. First, society moved forward in its acceptance of LGBT people and expectations that employees ensure fair treatment. SAP kept pace with those changing mores; and from a business perspective, the company recognized that it was important to evolve if they wanted to stay competitive for top talent.

Second, beginning in 2010, SAP has been proactively working with the Human Rights Campaign versus letting the organization access publicly available material. Since that point, David has been the liaison between the Human Rights Campaign and SAP’s North America human resources group, which has been hugely supportive of keeping SAP in top standing as an employer of choice.

For example, in 2012 the Human Rights Campaign changed its criteria and wanted companies to provide healthcare support for transgender people as they went through gender reassignment.

David said, “Healthcare benefits for transgender people were the big sticking point. In 2012, SAP felt like we had good enough support but didn’t need to be the best. In 2013, there wasn’t enough demand to justify adding this benefit versus other new benefits.”

“But in 2014 the industry was shifting and there was more awareness in society regarding what it means to be transgender. In addition, SAP’s own commitment to improving people’s lives helped advance LGBT rights and broaden access to benefits for all employees.”

Developing a good relationship with HR, coupled with cultural changes helped break down the last hurdle and David helped human resources make the business case to expand healthcare for transgender employees.

What’s next for Pride@SAP? David is trying to ensure that all SAP suppliers adhere to the same standards for equality as SAP, and that SAP holds them accountable through our global sustainability and corporate social responsibility policies.

David believes that although this is a US-focused award, it has global implications for SAP, “Participating in this index helps us look at our global policy towards LGBT employees. The conversations we (Pride@SAP) have had with human resources help push that dialogue and how we view our policy globally.”

SAP Ranking for LGBT Rights Improves 2002 – 2016

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