Judith Williams` Diversity & Inclusion Initiatives at SAP: Attempting to Change the World?

Judith Williams` Diversity & Inclusion Initiatives at SAP: Attempting to Change the World?
Case Code: HROB236
Case Length: 14 Pages
Period: 2018-2021
Pub Date: 2022
Teaching Note: Available
Price: Rs.400
Organization: SAP SE
Industry: Technology & Communications
Countries: United States
Themes: Diversity and Inclusion, Gender and Diversity Management, HR Planning,Managing Diversity
Judith Williams` Diversity & Inclusion Initiatives at SAP: Attempting to Change the World?
Abstract Case Intro 1 Case Intro 2 Excerpts


Williams’ Tryst With D&I

A graduate of Harvard College, Williams was an M.A and Ph.D. in Drama from Stanford University. Her research was related to ideas of gender, race, and national identity in theater and popular culture in the US and Brazil. She spent almost five years of her early career in teaching positions at Tufts University, the University of Kansas, and the University of Massachusetts..

Williams’ Role at SAP and her Issues with D&I Practices

In 2018, Williams joined SAP. She reported directly to Stefan Ries, Member of the Executive Board and Chief Human Resources Officer (CHRO), SAP. Speaking about Williams’s appointment, Bill McDermott, CEO of SAP said, “I couldn’t be prouder to welcome a proven leader like Judith to help us be the most inclusive company in the technology industry.”..

Bringing Culture Change With Data and AI

Williams acknowledged that bringing about a cultural change in a global company such as SAP with over 100,000 employees – with just 25% of them based in North America – was not an easy task. She said that she had to attempt a ‘mindset shift’, wherein the company had to be moved from activity measures to outcome measures..

Re-Setting Diversity Goals

In the two years since Williams joined SAP, the company was acknowledged for its efforts to recruit and promote a diverse workforce. In early 2020, SAP was named the Best Employer for Diversity by Forbes , up by eight positions from the previous year. The same year, SAP was selected – for the second year in a row – for inclusion in the Bloomberg Gender-Equality Index (GEI), which recognized companies committed to transparency in gender reporting and advancing women’s equality..

Addressing D&I Issues in SAP’s Recruitment

Williams acknowledged that making the underrepresented talent aware of the company’s recruitment efforts was a challenging task. She had to accept that, unlike other leading IT companies..

SAP’s Triple-Double Initiative

Industry observers stated that the employee turnover for people of color was higher than for other groups. They stated that certain barriers kept underrepresented talent from succeeding within any company..

Inclusive Entrepreneurship through SAP.iO

Williams believed that not only was there a need to provide opportunities for diverse people to work at SAP but that there was also a need to support them in their endeavors to build new technologies. She pointed out that the largest tech companies had started as startups and had grown steadily, without sparing any thought to D&I..

What benefits did D&I bring?

Analysts observed that as the US population continued to diversify, organizations would recognize diversity as a business imperative. Williams stated that the public at large had begun holding organizations accountable for remedying any disparities concerning D&I. According to management advisory firm Deloitte’s 2019 Millennial Survey, a majority of millennials stated that they placed heavy emphasis on gender and ethnic diversity when considering a potential employer..

Outlook For D&I in SAP And The Society As A Whole

Williams believed that once the D&I initiatives were implemented, the organization’s focus should shift to creating a sense of belonging. She thought that there was a need to devise ways to make employees feel like they were part of a psychologically safe community, which was a crucial element of a healthy..


Exhibit I: 10 Biggest Software Companies, 2022 (all figures in US$)
Exhibit II: Financial Performance of SAP (in millions of €) (2019-21)
Exhibit III: Black Employees in Big Tech Companies

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