Women In SAP
International women’s day is March 8th, and so over the next two weeks IgniteSAP will be discussing the changing role of women in the technology sector and SAP services industry.
This week we will take a look what women should expect from their employers as SAP consultants.
We will discuss some characteristics which should be common to all employers of SAP consultants. These represent the foundation of a healthy and vibrant working environment, but some of these points are more important to female employees.
A Growing Business
The potential employer should be able to demonstrate that it is growing its business and is addressing the changing needs of its customers. SAP, along with all other IT services companies, is changing the way that it provides its products and services to reflect the global transition to cloud infrastructure and services, leveraging automation and AI with stand-alone or embedded products.
It is not necessary to work for the largest IT services industries in order to have a satisfying and well paid career, but strategic partners of SAP ensure their own products and services are aligned with SAP’s changing portfolio, and find it easier to make a business case for their own SAP services.
A growing business will be more inclined to inclusiveness and innovation, and more likely to promote effective employees, regardless of their sex.
Commitment to Diversity and Inclusion
Regardless of whether you are male or female, the best employer will have active initiatives to foster an inclusive and welcoming working environment. These companies should show support for their female employees including mentoring programs, leadership development and peer support groups.
There is a persistent trend for women to be promoted to positions which are perceived as aligned with “soft skills” (mainly interpersonal communication) rather than technical skills, and so are more accepted in managerial positions in departments like HR and customer-facing roles. In the world of SAP services every employee should have an understanding of the technical aspects of their profession to some extent and employers should not assume that a female employee in a technical role is any less proficient than her male peers.
Career Development and Lifelong Learning
Ideal employers will see their team members as their primary assets and act accordingly to provide them with opportunities for personal growth and career development. Regular training is particularly important when working with SAP as the portfolio of products is updated as new innovations are included in releases: in some cases every few months.
Training should not just be limited to product awareness but also include workshops on management skills and interpersonal skills. Lead SAP consultants need awareness of the wider context of business operations and team management to run SAP projects.
Female employees should expect their potential employer to train and promote women to executive roles as much as their male colleagues and so should see women in leading roles in the company.
Flexible Working Practices
Employees do not work in a vacuum and have responsibilities outside of the work environment so the best employers are now taking advantage of the modern IT landscape to make it easier for their teams to work from home and outside of normal office hours if they prefer. This trend is more pronounced in the SAP ecosystem as companies and projects extend beyond single timezones.
This flexibility can be a problem rather than an advantage to those needing to maintain a good work-life balance.
More generally the pandemic has made it more acceptable to employers to have a variety of employment strategies like job sharing and part time workers, as well as an office-based nine-to-five group. Despite this, employers have a tendency to overstate their flexibility so it is important to tie this down in the employer selection process.
Compensation and Benefits
Along with a competitive salary, the best employers offer a package of benefits like pension plans, gym membership, parental leave.
Historically, there has been a tendency for salaries of female employees to undervalue their contribution to the business, and to limit their career progression to management rather than the executive level. Over the last two decades this gap has become less noticeable but it still exists in some areas so look closely at your salary and prepare for the opportunity to negotiate.
Culture and Environment
A culture of teamwork and collaboration is particularly important to the functioning of a successful SAP project and companies offering this service should promote these values in the workplace.
While communication needs to be structured, team members should feel that they have the ability to communicate openly with their peers and managers. Social groups self-organise so that one person tends to take the lead and this is formally structured in a business context, but this should not be to the detriment of the feedback process. Team members, regardless of their position and identity, should feel free to offer their own ideas so that information about the project flows transparently between all.
This encourages a culture of continuous improvement and innovation: leading to better outcomes for businesses and their customers.
Women in IT Services
There is an opportunity for women in the IT services industry to take the disruption of the traditionally male business environment further and faster than other sectors. Women make up more than half of the world population, do better in academic contexts than men, and yet there is a disparity between the needs of the technical professions and the current workforce demographic.
There is a growing need for more skilled SAP consultants as more and more businesses seek to digitise their operations and deploy these to the cloud. Within SAP themselves, despite many admirable initiatives to provide technical education and to promote equality in the corporation, the ratio of employees is still roughly two-thirds male to one-third female, and only about one quarter of SAP executives are female.
Of the many companies providing SAP services: Deloitte, PwC, Capgemini, TCS, KPMG, Valantic and TenthPin, all show evidence of the characteristics listed above so women should be confident that they will be entering an inclusive and supportive working environment if they are employed by them.
However, due to an overarching trend still in existence in the IT services industry their credentials are still somewhat aspirational: they seek to meet these ideals but are yet to achieve true gender equality in the workplace.
There is some way to go before employers of female SAP consultants disrupt the trend of more male than female employees, and while the situation will inevitably improve over time, all companies, employees and customers need to become advocates for a greater number of women being employed in the IT services industry.