Dr. Peter Graf, Chief Sustainability Officer, Executive VP Sustainability at SAP, visited theCube during its live coverage of Sapphire Now, and discussed sustainability with hosts John Furrier and Jeff Kelly.
Graf began by helping to define the complex term, “sustainability.” It’s not as simple as being environmentally aware, Graf explained, “It’s understanding where economic, environmental, and social interests overlap.” SAP recognizes that simply “going green” isn’t enough of an incentive to propel sustainability strategies in companies. “It’s about business at the end of the day,” and, therefore, SAP’s sustainability strategy includes solutions such as integrated reports.
Taking a different approach on integrated reporting, Graf explained how SAP uses the document as a catalyst to more deeply embed sustainability into how they run their business. The core of the report is the explanation how the company’s non-financial performance, such as energy consumption or carbon emissions, relates to their financial performance. For example, the document reveals how much financial value is represented by each percent of energy retention. “Creating those connections makes sustainability relevant for the business,” Graf stated, “And it’s a great proof point of the value we create, so that customers can use our solutions to do the same.”
Consumers Do Pay Attention
To further illustrate the benefit of thinking sustainably, Graf pointed out that companies that ignore sustainability and sustainable thinking or don’t treat the environment and society with respect feel a backlash because consumers stop supporting their products, or even boycott them. “We’ve seen this with exploding oil rigs, or companies that use child labor. We’ve seen examples of the risk of not running in a sustainable way,” Graf emphasized. “Punishment from the consumers is real. That’s why many companies who are closest to the consumer are the role models [for sustainability].”
Graf also highlighted that modern consumers are demanding more “transparency.” Consumers are asking more questions, placing more value on honesty and responsibility, and, in fact, are playing an increasingly important role in driving sustainable thinking.