We believe the diversity of our employees enriches our company, be it with respect to their gender, national or ethnic origin, sexual orientation, religion, or personal life experiences. We advocate for an inclusive culture in which each individual can realize their full potential and bring their own individual perspectives to the table. We are convinced that the diversity of our workforce and our open, international company culture have a positive impact on the business success and innovative strength of our company.
Our approach to diversity and inclusion
We are committed to strengthening and expanding our inclusive culture and the diversity of our workforce. That is why we are pursuing our diversity and inclusion strategy (D&I strategy), which consists of three pillars: Firstly, attracting, developing and retaining the best employees, secondly, serving various customers and markets and thirdly, driving forward innovations through inclusion.
In line with our corporate strategy, our objective is to increase the proportion of women in leadership roles and offer better opportunities to talent from Asia. Additionally, we want to deepen our understanding of this growth market. In 2020, our Diversity Council expanded its focus to include LGBTQI+, disability and ethnicity issues. In North America and Europe, we concentrated on the topic of ethnic origin in 2020 and organized dialogue in various forums.
Moreover, we take action against all forms of discrimination, build teams with a balanced age structure and a diverse base of educational backgrounds and experience and create an international working environment. As part of our D&I strategy, we also encourage our managers to actively promote diversity. Diversity figures are therefore part of the compensation-relevant corporate goals.
We integrate this inclusion concept into all Human Resources programs and processes. Our Competency Model shows how managers and employees can establish an open and inclusive environment. The inclusion concept is thus embedded in our six Leadership Behaviors. This concept explicitly calls for open and supportive collaboration.
We advocate for openness and diversity. For this purpose, we work on recognizing unconscious bias and its impact on everyday work. We use training courses to raise awareness of this among managers and show how these biases can be actively addressed, both in interpersonal relations and decision-making processes.
Our diverse employee networks are a further component for creating an inclusive culture. Several thousand people are members of these networks. We encourage the formation of new networks as the exchange with them helps us to recognize the challenges our employees face in everyday work.
In addition, we also regularly host our Diversity Days and use various occasions, such as International Women’s Day, Pride Month, Coming Out Day, and Black History Month to host further events, where we explain the current developments that are relevant to us. We derive specific measures from the insights gained in order to embed inclusion even more deeply in our company.
Making diversity and inclusion a pillar of the company
Our Chief Diversity Officer is responsible for steering topics of diversity and inclusion. She reports directly to the Vice Chair of the Executive Board and Deputy CEO whose responsibilities include Group Human Resources. The Diversity Council consists of high-ranking executives from all our business sectors and select Group functions. The committee has the following mandate:
- The committee members visibly and actively support our diversity and inclusion agenda as well as the Executive Board and the managing directors in the individual countries.
- The members propose strategic goals, initiate measures and ensure within their respective units that line managers meet their responsibilities.
- The members use the Diversity Council to exchange information, discuss the latest challenges and share best practices.
- The members are accessible to all employees.
- As leaders of our company, the members are role models within their units.
In addition, all business sectors and major Group functions have various working groups at management level, which implement the diversity and inclusion strategy in their area of responsibility.
Our commitment: Industry-wide initiatives and regulations
Our Social and Labor Standards Policy makes it clear that we do not tolerate any form of discrimination, physical or verbal harassment or intolerance. To underscore our commitment to equality, fairness, inclusion, and tolerance in the workplace, we additionally participate in industry-wide initiatives.
- The Women’s Empowerment Principles, an initiative of UN Women and the UN Global Compact network, are to promote gender equality and women’s empowerment in the workplace.
- The “Inclusion Action Plan” of the German Mining, Chemical and Energy Industrial Union (IG BCE) defines concrete measures to create a more inclusive workforce for employees with disabilities. In endorsing this plan, we are meeting the requirements of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
- The Equal Opportunity Charter, with which we promise to do everything in our power to achieve gender equality within our company.
- The German “Diversity Charter”, with which we promise to embed diversity and inclusion in our organization. In 2020, we became a new, official member of the association Charta der Vielfalt e. V.
Meeting statutory requirements
The German Law for the Equal Participation of Women and Men in Leadership Positions in the Public and Private Sector has been in effect in Germany since 2015. Owing to our legal form as a KGaA (corporation with general partners), this law also applies in part to us. Detailed information can be found on our website.
Consisting of 37.5% women (six out of 16 members), our Supervisory Board already meets the stipulations of German legislation on the gender quota. Owing to our legal form as a KGaA (corporation with general partners), we are not required to set targets for our Executive Board. For the two management levels below the Executive Board of Merck KGaA, however, the Executive Board set the following targets in 2016:
- 21% women on the first management level of Merck KGaA below the Executive Board
- 26% women on the second management level below the Executive Board
The deadline set for reaching these targets is December 31, 2021.
Rooting out unconscious bias
We want to raise awareness of unconscious bias among our managers and employees. That is why we offer Group-wide training courses on this topic. When filling job vacancies worldwide, the online tool “Job Analyzer” supports gender-neutral communication with applicants. This is intended to reduce unconscious bias in the hiring process.
Taking action against discrimination
We do not tolerate any discrimination in our company. This is stipulated with binding effect in our Code of Conduct and our Social and Labor Standards Policy. If employees feel discriminated against, harassed or not tolerated, they can report the issue via various channels: Their first points of contact are either their supervisor or one of the two Group functions Human Resources (HR) or Compliance. Alternatively, employees throughout the Group can call our SpeakUp Line anonymously. As part of our “Group Compliance Case Committee”, our Group HR function coordinates suspected cases relating to HR. In 2020, 16 suspected cases of discrimination were reported via SpeakUp Line and other channels. Of these reports, two incidents were confirmed.
Fostering diverse talent
HR supports our business units in fostering talent of various origins and increasing the proportion of women in leadership roles. At the end of 2020, 35% of the managers in the Group were women, which means we exceeded our 2021 target of maintaining a 30% representation of women in these positions.
In 2020, we developed Group-wide goals and measures to achieve a more balanced gender structure in various hierarchical levels of our business sectors. For example, we offered numerous mentoring, sponsoring and talent programs for women and other target groups, such as ethnic minorities. In doing so, we want to make these target groups more visible when filling vacancies. Mentoring programs help participants to exchange views on solutions for current challenges. Sponsoring programs go beyond this. Here, participants benefit from an experienced people manager who coaches them and prepares them for the next career step.
We are convinced that our talent programs and open discussions about unconscious bias contribute to further increasing the diversity of the workforce in our company. In 2020, we reviewed our Group-wide recruitment processes to identify the measures and products that make our processes even more inclusive.
Our employees have the option of working flexibly – this also contributes to more equal opportunities. During the Covid-19 pandemic, we expanded our flexible job offers. Additionally, we offer our employees information, e.g. about virtual working or mental health, in order to support them in various personal circumstances. Moreover, we supported research on gender-based violence.
Networks strengthen diversity
We support numerous local and global employee networks, including our internal women’s networks and networks that advocate for the LGBTQI+ community, employees of various ethnic origins and international employees. Networks for people with disabilities and veterans are in development.
Involvement in area-specific or interdisciplinary networks is an opportunity for all employees to acquire leadership competencies. At the same time, they bring their experience into our company. We therefore ensure that the various groups are listened to and incorporated.
Tapping into external networks
For more than ten years now, our company has been a corporate partner of the Healthcare Businesswomen’s Association (HBA). We are represented both in global and European advisory boards. The HBA advocates for women in the healthcare industry – almost exclusively through volunteer work. We explicitly support employees who want to volunteer for the HBA. In 2020, employees in Germany, the Netherlands, Switzerland, and the United States volunteered for the HBA – some as members of the European Regional Council, some as European Regional Chairpersons and some has heads of a regional HBA group. Moreover, we sponsor the events of the HBA.
Integrating international employees
Our company is becoming increasingly international. We currently employ people from a total of 141 nations. Our leadership (Role 4+) includes representatives of 75 nationalities. In 2020, 66% of leadership positions were held by non-German employees. As of the end of 2020, 9% of our workforce worked outside their home countries.
To best facilitate this international collaboration, we offer intercultural training for all employees along with suitable digital tools. For instance, our Cultural Navigator helps prepare our staff for international projects and business trips abroad. To help employees transferred abroad to adjust more quickly, we offer language training and international networks. For instance, more than 700 expatriate employees are members of the International Community, which meets regularly in Darmstadt.
Our business language is English. To ensure that the members of our workforce understand our communications, we also provide a great deal of information in the respective local languages of our employees.
Good ranking in diversity and equality indices
The American Human Rights Campaign Foundation rated our LGBTQI+ activities throughout 2020. We scored 100% in the “Corporate Equality Index” (CEI), which measured the equality and inclusion of our LGBTQI+ employees.
In the Financial Times ranking, we were selected as one of the leading 100 (out of over 15,000) companies when it comes to the topic of diversity.
We ranked third in the 2020 “BCG Gender Diversity Study” by the Boston Consulting Group and the Technical University of Munich. This study rated management board and supervisory board gender diversity among Germany’s largest publicly listed companies.
These rankings show us that we are on the right track when it comes to successfully living diversity and an inclusive work environment.