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Four causes your colleagues want you to know about

by Kristine Erickson

August 21, 2012

Kristine Erickson, Editor, Insider Learning Network - 

This week I found myself revisiting a recent interview with Jarret Pazahanick and invite you to do the same – but not just for the great context Jarret puts on the SuccessFactors acquisition. It’s the personal story that Jarret shares at the end of this conversation that sticks with me:

At the end of the [SuccessConnect] keynote, Lars Dalgaard, the founder of SuccessFactors, went a little off script, talking about... his two and a half year old son. Having two kids myself--a five and a six year old--hearing that just struck really close to home.

When I got back, I wrote an article on the SuccessFactors conference, but that really stood out as something I wanted to do something about. I volunteered to do the leukemia walk that’s coming up here in Texas in early October. I set up a fundraising page for the HR Technology industry, so I hope anyone that's listening considers making a donation for this really worthy cause.”

Details about the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society  & Jarret’s walk are here.

Impressive, huh? I've been struck by a few such initiatives from your colleagues in the SAP world, like...

  • Steve Birdsall, SVP of Rapid Deployment Solutions at SAP, introduced us to the Els for Autism initiative.
    Ernie Els as a professional golfer & 2012 Open champion, but is also a key advocate for autism research: ”It is three years since our seven-year old son Ben was diagnosed with Autism,” Els writes in a moving personal story, and now his Els for Autism initiative looks to combine technology  & research: Els Center for Excellence... will provide a global digital learning platform to provide children on the autism spectrum around the world access to best practices in education and therapy in a state-of-the-art education and research facility..."
    Steve is cochairing one of the regional events for the  Els for Autism Golf Challenge in Princeton, NJ on September 13. For all the details, visit or support a team by donating to a Golf Challenge team or participant.

  • And perhaps you're aware of the It Gets Better project (from Google’s TV ads,  perhaps, if nowhere else?), an anti-bullying project focused on the rise in suicide especially in LGBT teens. But the story of how SAP’s Moya Watson organized an SAP employee video for the project is a powerful one in itself. The project "offers hope by speaking directly to people at-risk of suicide…" and the project took on greater meaning for Watson when she learned of the death of a colleague's son, 18-year-old Jeffrey Fehr, who took his own life, and is the son of SAP employee Steve Fehr.
    Heartbreakingly, Steve and his wife are the first faces you see on the It Gets Better: SAP Employees video.  The video also includes Watson, SAP co-CEO Jim Hagemann Snabe, and Jan Grasshoff, SVP of Talent, Leadership, and Organization, and SAP employees across 5 languages and 6 countries. "Bullying is a global issue, and we are a global company," said Watson in the Huffington Post. Watson's powerful story of the making of this video is in her blog and on SAP's coverage in in Forbes.

  • Finally, we must mention a fan favorite, prolific expert and author, SAP's Ginger Gatling. Ginger is a great example of leading by example - and not only because she can pull together the talent of 20 or so of her colleagues to collaborate in a single book! But Ginger is also donating the proceeds of two of her recent SAP PRESS book projects - Practical Workflow for SAP and Enterprise Information Management with SAP – to Doctors Without Borders, with more than $26,000 raised so far.
    Her tweets celebrated some recent milestones:

We don't always remember to connect the dots between business, family & community, but these are instances where it's happening.

And these are just a few very public examples in the SAP world - I'm sure you have others. In fact, I just bumped into SAPinsider editor Dave Hannon (@Daveatwispubs), who is directing a race this weekend for two  very personal causes: a local charity in memory of a friend's daughter, who recently died, and for the Cystic Fybrosis Foundation -- his co-race director's son has CF.

If you're impressed with what these folks are doing, then please let them know it, or maybe they inspire you to support a cause you believe in. When a colleague "goes off script" or a story told in passing at work hits you close to home, it might be a chance to help make a positive impact far beyond the office walls.

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