HomeEmployee ExperienceCultureSAP Ariba Live 2019: Amal Clooney, Michele Mees and more

SAP Ariba Live 2019: Amal Clooney, Michele Mees and more

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SAP Ariba Live 2019 hit Barcelona last week, playing host to Amal Clooney, Michele Mees and a cavalcade of incredible discussions around sustainability and its importance in culture and talent attraction. Read the HRD Connect report here.

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How can our businesses be a force for good in the world, and how can doing so boost success?

SAP Ariba Live 2019, taking place beach-side in beautiful Barcelona, played host to a powerful array of diverse speakers discussing sustainability and organisational culture across three packed days.

Photo: SAP SE

The conference kicked off with a Sustainability Summit, focused on how businesses can become more environmentally and socially responsible, and why doing so is not only a matter of social good, but also one of business success.

Saffia Minney, MBE FRSA, entrepreneur and founder of People Tree, told a packed crowd in Barcelona’s Soho House what sustainable, environmentally conscious supply chains can do for organisational culture, and how this impacts talent attraction and retention.

“We know that consumers want it, and we know that employees in our organisations want it”, Minney said.

Minney discussed ways to include this attitude in company culture through rewards and benefits, such as encouraging employees travelling for work to take trains instead of planes, and giving the extra time taken to travel as paid leave.

Indeed, it seems that an organisations identity is a crucial factor in attracting the right people, fully engaging them in the organisational journey, and retaining them for the long haul

Minney also emphasised the importance of using emotion in business strategy, urging leaders to “Push sadness and fear into action”.

The Sustainability Summit also included a session with representatives from DocuSign, IAG and Givewith entitled ‘The Case for Purpose’.

“Business responsibility is now part of the business agenda”, Sebastian Ociepka, Head of Business Intelligence & Systems, IAG, said in his opening remarks. “But how can we make sustainability part of our day-to-day work?”

All three companies gave examples of ways that purpose has become part of their business strategy. KC Hamels, Senior Director, DocuSign, revealed that the company has allowed clients to find out how many trees they have saved by using their service, as an integral part of solidifying their business culture and identification.

This is a crucial part of DocuSign’s talent attraction and retainment strategy, especially when it comes to recruiting millennials.

“They really care about what we stand for as an organisation, and whether we walk the walk”, said KC Hamels, emphasising that providing data to prove their commitment to sustainability has made a major impact on their workforce.

Pat McCarthy, Senior Vice President and General Manager, Global, SAP Ariba and SAP Fieldglass, concluded the Summit with some simple advice for business leaders.

“Doing good is good business”, McCarthy said, in addition to urging the audience to pay external workforces well and on time.

Next came the first General Session of the Summit, hosted by Tifenn Dano Kwan CMO, SAP Ariba and SAP Fieldglass, and featuring talks from Jennifer Morgan, President of SAP’s Cloud Business Group, Lisa Gonzalez Smith, Head of Purchasing, Ford Motor Company and, finally, celebrated human rights lawyer Amal Clooney.

Amal Clooney speaks to Tifenn Dano Kwan at SAP Ariba Live, Barcelona.

Amal Clooney spoke of the numerous cases she has fought in the name of equality and freedom, while urging business leaders to commit to creating change in the world.

“The days are gone when businesses aren’t on the frontline”, Amal Clooney said, “They are held accountable through their employees … If businesses don’t act, they will be judged by their communities.”

Clooney gave examples of why doing good is also a key factor in business success.

“Empowering women in your organisations will grow business”, said Clooney, “and doing good will attract the young”.

“If businesses believe that doing good can be profitable then doing good will be sustainable, and if it’s profitable it will be long-lasting.”

Despite discussing difficult and upsetting topics, Clooney’s speech was a positive one, telling the audience that, even in the darkest moments she faces in her work, she sees “the resilience of the human spirit.”

Wednesday saw a host of Q&As and Breakout Sessions on the future of work, including a session on spanning the generation gap, hosted by Melissa Drew, Senior Manager, Deloitte Consulting, and another entitled ‘Mind Your Bias: It’s Showing – A Shift from Advocacy to Action’ hosted by Etosha K. Thurman, Head of Global Business Network, SAP Ariba.

There was also a Diversity Leadership Lunch, which included a session with Michele Mees, TED-Ex speaker and author of ‘The Balanced Leader’. Mees discussed the ways in which leaders can strive for a more inclusive workplace by leveraging both their “male and female” inner selves.

Photo: SAP SE

“Take it to heart”, Michele Mees told an audience of business leaders.

“Make sure your whole person is involved. If you only use your head, you will find arguments against it.”

“You put so much energy and passion into your work. It’s essential that you put this energy into something that will make the world a better place.”

Mees answered challenging questions from the audience, and asked every audience member to take part in a personality test that assessed their emotional balance in the workplace and decision-making skills.

Following a fantastic Celebration Night, which took place across three venues on Barcelona’s sublime beachfront, SAP Ariba Live concluded with a final General Session, introduced by SAP Ariba CPO James Lee accompanying a live flamenco performance, and featuring an insightful session on the future of AI and Emotional Intelligence software with Rana el Kaliouby, CEO and Co-Founder of Affectiva.

Photo: SAP SE

It was an inspiring few days, hammering home the truth that, if organisations are to succeed in creating a culture that attracts and retains the right people, sustainability must be at the heart of the business agenda.


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