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, different sexual orientations and an array of professional backgrounds. We believe that a diverse workforce – paired with a respectful corporate culture – strengthens our ability to innovate and contributes significantly to our business success. With this in mind, we work hard to foster a culture of diversity and inclusion.
Our approach to diversity and equal opportunity
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 greater opportunities for women, cultivate an international working environment and form teams with a balanced age structure. To this end, we offer our employees global development opportunities and are working to increase the percentage of leaders from international growth markets across the Group to leverage their knowledge of local markets. To support these efforts, in 2017 we developed a detailed diversity policy for the Executive Board and Supervisory Board of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany. The policy is published in our management report.
The strategic competencies that guide our employees and leaders in their tasks are set out in our Competency Model, a fundamental element of HR processes such as recruitment, feedback and training for supervisors and leaders. We have software in place that allows our leaders to quickly and reliably analyze their personnel and team data. Select data on topics such as diversity are also presented in this report.
Women in leadership roles: Requirements and targets
Our target for 2021 is to maintain a 30% representation of women in leadership roles, and we are working to further increase the representation of women in leadership positions and business units where they are still underrepresented. To achieve this objective, in 2017 we formed special teams that are responsible for developing goals and measures at a departmental level to help us move female candidates into positions in different areas and hierarchies. At the end of 2017, women occupied 30.3% of leadership roles Group-wide. Although these figures are increasing steadily across the company, this is not the case within certain business units, Group functions and hierarchical levels.
How we're making diversity a pillar of the company
Our Chief Diversity Officer is responsible for overseeing our Group’s diversity strategy and reports directly to Belén Garijo, the Executive Board member whose responsibilities include Group Human Resources. Consisting of executives from all our business sectors and select Group functions, our Diversity Council performs four key tasks:
- It is responsible for implementing our strategy for greater diversity.
- It evaluates and further develops proposals to increase diversity submitted by our business sectors and functions as well as employee-organized networks.
- The council members ensure implementation of the Diversity Strategy in their respective areas, monitoring the progress of the initiatives.
- Members act as direct points of contact for the employees in their respective areas.
Group Human Resources (HR) has also implemented a number of programs and processes in order to further enhance diversity within the company.
Our commitment: Industry-wide initiatives and regulations
In an effort to promote further diversity and underscore our commitment to fairness, inclusion and tolerance in the workplace, we support industry-wide initiatives:
- In 2017, we adopted the new Inclusion Action Plan of the German Mining, Chemical and Energy Industrial Union (IG BCE), which sets out concrete measures and provides guidance for creating 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.
- In 2015, we furthermore signed the IG BCE Equal Opportunity Charter, thereby promising to do everything in our power to achieve gender equality within the company.
- In 2013, we endorsed the German industry-wide “Charta der Vielfalt” (Diversity Charter).
- In 2011, we joined other DAX® 30 companies in signing a declaration committing to advance women in leadership roles.
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.
Consisting of 37.5% women (6 out of 16 members), our Supervisory Board already meets the stipulations of the 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, however, the Executive Board set the following targets in 2016:
- 21% women on the first management level below Executive Board
- 26% women on the second management level below Executive Board.
- We’ve set a deadline of December 31, 2021 for reaching these targets.
Increasing diversity awareness
We seek to raise awareness for diversity and inclusion among our employees. In a bid to educate people on unconscious bias, in 2017 we conducted pilot projects Group-wide involving a variety of training seminars and webinars. 192 employees took part. These seminars help participants recognize unconscious thought patterns and stereotypes, thereby preventing any unfair treatment resulting from such a mindset. In addition to raising diversity awareness, we also support our business units in their efforts to advance a greater number of women into leadership roles. Launched in 2017, our Gender Balance Toolkit enables them to identify gaps in recruitment processes and develop a custom-tailored course of action to increase the percentage of female employees in their ranks. In 2017, we also started looking into ways to leverage the Healthy Women, Healthy Economies toolkit, whose guidelines help identify methods of promoting worker health.
In 2017, for the sixth year running, we dedicated the entire month of September to the topic of diversity and inclusion. Under the banner of “Different Perspectives“, we hosted a variety of activities around the globe. The approximately 11,100 employees participating across 32 countries showed how important the issue is. Our Diversity Council sponsored the campaign, supporting it through media articles and by participating in roundtables and employee events.
Networks to bolster diversity
Creating an inclusive work environment that promotes mutual respect is a particular focus of our diversity strategy. We support specific employee networks in order to foster exchange among like-minded individuals. Apart from our internal women’s network in various countries, we also promote networks that further the interests of the LGBTIQ (Lesbain, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, Intersex, Queer) community, Afro-American employees, and international staff.
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 to benefit 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, we invited leaders from all networks Group-wide to a first-ever leadership summit in 2017.
Through our Rainbow Network for homosexual, bisexual and transsexual employees, in 2017 we supported Christopher Street Day in Frankfurt and Darmstadt (Germany). As well as taking part, we were the official corporate sponsor of the event in Darmstadt. Since 2016, the Rainbow Network has also been active in the United States and Canada.
Our 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.
Tapping into external networks
We are 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 in this network because it gives them access to mentoring programs as well as the opportunity to attend various seminars and conferences at our global headquarters in Darmstadt (Germany), as well as in Lyon (France), or Boston, MA (USA). In autumn 2017, several of our employees participated in the HBA’s European conference in London (United Kingdom) as well as its annual conference in Philadelphia, PA (USA), not to mention regional events held in cities such as Darmstadt. Furthermore, three of our female employees are board members of HBA Europe.
As well as supporting the HBA, we were also a primary sponsor of the 2017 Women’s International Networking (WIN) Conference in Oslo (Norway), which was attended by 15 of our employees, some of whom gave talks. The network connects women in leadership roles with the aim of helping them gain more influence. As a member of the Center for Talent Innovation, we benefit from their research on diversity and inclusion. In 2017, two of our female employees participated in the Task Force Summit held in New York City (USA).
Taking action against discrimination
As stipulated in our Code of Conduct, we do not tolerate any form of 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 Compliance. Alternatively, employees can call our SpeakUp Line anonymously from anywhere Group-wide. Group Compliance is responsible for investigating alleged cases, a process coordinated by the Group Compliance Case 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 across the company. In 2017, no suspected cases of discrimination were reported via the SpeakUp Line or other channels.
Successfully integrating international employees
Our company is becoming increasingly international. We currently employ people from a total of 131 nations, 23% of whom are German citizens. Our leadership (Role 4+) includes representatives of 65 nationalities. In 2017, 64% of leadership positions were held by non-German employees. As of the end of 2017, 8% of our employees were working outside their home countries.
To best facilitate this international collaboration, we offer intercultural seminars for all employees along with suitable online tools. For instance, our Cultural Navigator helps prepare our staff for international projects and business trips abroad. We also provide the majority of our company-related documents in English, and support employees posted to other countries through language courses and international networks to help them adjust more quickly to their new country. For instance, around 600 expatriate employees are members of the International Community, which meets regularly in Darmstadt.
Addressing demographic change
Another issue we’re tackling is demographic change. We expect the average age of our workforce to continue to rise in the coming years. In Germany, we are responding to this trend with various initiatives including our corporate health management program. Take for instance BELS, the tool for strain evaluation that we use to design ergonomic work spaces that boost performance. BELS takes demographic change into consideration by assessing a range of stressors through the lens of age. This approach allows us to adapt our workplaces to suit the needs of older individuals. In addition to modifying physical working environments, in 2015 we developed new shift models and introduced a prevention program for shift workers. In 2017, our company health insurance fund partnered with our health management organization to conduct a year-long campaign entitled “Time for me - Building resources“. Under this campaign, we hosted health and safety days that were attended by over 1,200 employees.