Diversity and equal opportunity

We are an international company, with employees who represent a varied cross-section of nationalities, cultures, religions, and age groups, as well as different gender identities and sexual orientations. We believe that a diverse workforce – paired with an inclusive corporate culture – strengthens the innovative power of our Group and contributes significantly to our business success. With this in mind, we work hard to foster a culture of diversity and inclusion.

Our principles

Increasing diversity, providing opportunities

Our goal is to further drive diversity across our workforce and offer all our employees equal opportunities for advancement. In particular, we endeavor to promote women in leadership positions, cultivate an international working environment and form teams with a balanced age structure. We offer our employees global development opportunities. Moreover, we are working to increase the percentage of executives from international growth markets across the Group to leverage their knowledge of local markets.

Diversity: A pillar of the company

Our Chief Diversity Officer is responsible for overseeing our Group’s diversity strategy and reports directly to Kai Beckmann, the Executive Board member whose responsibilities include Group Human Resources. Our Diversity Council consists of executives from all our business sectors and select Group functions, and performs four key functions:

  1. It is responsible for implementing our strategy for greater diversity.
  2. It evaluates and refines proposals to increase diversity submitted by our business sectors.
  3. The council members inform their own business sectors about the work of the council and are responsible for overseeing the respective issues in their areas.
  4. The members are direct points of contact for the employees in their business sector.

In order to further enhance diversity within the company, Group Human Resources (HR) has implemented a number of programs and processes. Our strategic competencies, which guide our employees and managers in their tasks, are set out in our . The Competency Model is a fundamental element of HR processes such as recruitment, feedback processes and training for managers. In 2016, we rolled out software that analyzes our personnel data quickly and reliably. This was the first time we have implemented such a tool, which also provides anonymized information. Select data are presented in this report.

Creating an inclusive work environment that promotes mutual respect is a particular focus of our human resources work. We support specific employee networks in order to foster exchange among like-minded individuals. In addition to our internal women’s networks in various countries, we also partner with networks outside the company that are committed to ensuring women’s advancement in the workplace.

Taking action against discrimination

As stipulated in our Code of Conduct, we do not tolerate discrimination within our company. If an employee feels they have been discriminated against, they can report the issue via various channels. Their first point of contact is their supervisor, but they can also contact Human Resources, Legal or . Alternatively, employees can call our SpeakUp Line anonymously from anywhere Group-wide. Alleged cases fall under the purview of Group Compliance and are handled by the Compliance Committee. In confirmed cases of discrimination, a subcommittee provides a recommendation for disciplinary action that is implemented by our management team. In this way, we ensure that similar cases are dealt with consistently worldwide.

Supporting industry-wide initiatives

In an effort to promote further diversity, we also support industry-wide initiatives. By adopting the German “Charta der Vielfalt” (Diversity Charter) in 2013 and signing the Equal Opportunity Charter of the German Mining, Chemical and Energy Industrial Union (IG BCE) in 2015, we underscored our commitment to fairness and tolerance in the workplace, promising to do everything in our power to achieve gender equality within the company. In 2011, we joined other DAX® 30 companies in signing a declaration committing to advance women in leadership roles.

Women in leadership roles: Requirements and objectives

In 2011, we set the strategic goal of increasing the percentage of management positions held by women to 25%-30%, a target we reached in 2016. Group-wide, women currently occupy 28.8% of leadership roles. The figures are steadily increasing across the company as a whole, but not consistently across business units, Group functions and hierarchical levels. Our target for 2021 is to maintain a 30% representation of women on the managerial level, and we working to further increase the percentage in senior management positions and business units where women are still underrepresented. To achieve this objective, we plan to form special teams that will be responsible for developing goals and measures at departmental level to help us move female candidates into positions in different areas and hierarchies.

In addition to working towards our own goals, the German Law on Equal Participation of Women and Men in Leadership Positions in the Public and Private Sector has been in effect in Germany since September 30, 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.


Global Diversity Days

We seek to raise awareness among our workforce for diversity and inclusion. In 2015, for instance, we expanded our Diversity Day from one day a year to a whole month. Every year in September, we now place diversity center stage. In September 2016, we organized a range of activities around the world under the banner of “The Power of WE – The Power of Diversity”. Overall, employees from 17 countries across six continents took part in a number of events. The members of the Diversity Council also supported the campaign by holding online events that saw participation from more than 580 employees Group-wide.

Networks to bolster diversity

Our company is a corporate partner of the Healthcare Businesswomen’s Association (HBA), a non-profit organization committed to furthering the advancement and impact of women in the healthcare industry. We encourage our female employees to get involved because it gives them the opportunity to attend various seminars and conferences in Darmstadt (Germany), Lyon (France) or Boston, MA (USA), as well as to take part in mentoring programs. In autumn 2016, some of our employees participated in the HBA’s European conference in Leiden (Netherlands) as well as its annual conference in St. Louis, MO (USA). Furthermore, two of our female employees are board members of HBA Europe.

Through our Rainbow Network for homosexual, bisexual and transsexual employees, we supported Christopher Street Day 2016 in Frankfurt and Darmstadt, Germany. As well as taking part, we were the official corporate sponsor of the event in Darmstadt. In 2016, the Rainbow Network was also launched in the United States.

The U.S.-based Black Leadership Network is dedicated to advancing and developing African American employees, offering its members advanced training and continuing education programs, tailored career advice and networking opportunities.

Owing to the acquisitions we have made in recent years, there has been a steady increase in the number of our employee networks. Going forward, we intend to better leverage the potential of these networks for our business activities. Networks with similar objectives are to be merged and expanded internationally. Moreover, we want to help establish leadership structures within these networks and define their goals. To this end, in 2016 we held the first round of workshops with network representatives.

Successful international collaboration

Our company is becoming increasingly international. We currently employ people from a total of 129 nations, 23.1% of whom are German citizens. Our managerial staff ( 14+) includes representatives of 70 nationalities. In the 2015-2016 period, 65% of management positions were held by non-German employees. At the end of 2016, 17% of our employees were working outside their home countries, versus 6% in 2014.

To best facilitate this international collaboration, we offer intercultural seminars for all employees and are also increasing the availability of company documents in English. We support employees posted to other countries through language courses and international networks to help them settle more quickly into their new country. For instance, around 200 expatriate employees are members of the International Community, which gets together regularly in Darmstadt.

No cases of discrimination

In 2015 and 2016, no suspected cases of discrimination were reported via the SpeakUp Line or other channels.  

On the path to equality

Consisting of 37.5% women (6 out of 16 members), our Supervisory Board already meets the stipulations of the new German legislation on the women’s 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, in 2015 we set an initial goal of maintaining the then figure of 21% at both levels until the end of 2016. In late 2016, women numbered 16% on the first management level and 24% on the second, which means the target defined for the first management level was not met. Here, the lower representation of women was mainly attributable to personnel changes made to the Executive Board itself and the resulting changes to the first management level. Organizational changes (transfer of two female executives abroad) and fluctuation (one female executive employee left the company) also had an impact on the number and percentage of women at this management level. By contrast, owing to the successful recruitment and promotion of women employees, we exceeded our target of 21% for the second management level by reaching 24% female representation. This development creates a strong basis for future appointments to the first management level. Our new targets for these two management levels are to increase the ratio of women on the first level to 21% and on the second level to 26% by the end of 2021.

Addressing demographic change

Another issue we’re addressing is demographic change. We expect the average age of our workforce to continue rising in the coming years. In Germany, we are responding to this trend with various initiatives including our health management program. Within this program, for instance, we are adapting workplaces to the needs of older people. In 2015 we developed new shift models and introduced preventive health measures for shift workers. Moreover, at our site in Darmstadt we offer special courses for employees over the age of 40, such as the seminar “Staying on the ball – Learning at 40+”. In 2015, we took another step toward sensitizing our employees to the limits of their own physical and mental resources by participating in a research project focusing on mindfulness jointly run by the Kalapa Leadership Academy and Coburg University of Applied Sciences.

Using our new personnel data evaluation software, we intend to analyze the age structure of our workforce in the United States and Asia and subsequently adapt our local initiatives to address demographic change.

Our Competency Model
This model describes the behaviors needed to drive our strategic orientation and success. These behaviors therefore provide key guidance for all learning and development activities.
Adherence to laws and regulations as well as to voluntary codices that are internal to the Group. Compliance is a component of diligent corporate governance.
Global Grade
Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany uses a market-oriented method to rate positions within the company. The Group has 23 Global Grades that enable a consistent rating system for positions across the organization.