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Diversity, equity & inclusion

TAG overview

We believe that creating and maintaining a diverse workforce helps us drive innovation, exceed customer expectations and remain economically and socially sustainable. Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DE&I) also supports our goals of attracting and retaining talent who enrich our culture and help us create new solutions to tomorrow’s challenges.

Our approach to creating a culture of belonging

We are committed to promoting a strong sense of inclusion and belonging among our employees. Therefore, we approach Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DE&I) with the same purpose as our other global business objectives and aspirations. While we have always been a diverse organization – we currently span 65 countries and have about 63,000 employees from 141 nationalities – we recognize that our success depends on our ability to foster equity and inclusion. In addition, our DE&I approach fuels our efforts to make positive impacts in the communities where we live and work. We expect our leaders and managers to be mindful and considerate in how they attract, hire, retain, and promote their people. We aim to help every employee maximize their potential, regardless of their gender identity, culture, ethnicity, race, religion or creed, sexual orientation, nationality, socioeconomic and family status, language, disability status, age, mindset, faiths, military service, or political conviction.

We strive to create equitable outcomes and identify and eliminate any barriers that may hinder our employees’ contributions or their access to opportunities or career advancement. Ultimately, we believe diversity inspires progress and strengthens our ability to innovate in all areas of our business.

It is the uniqueness of our people that brings science, curiosity and our High-Impact Culture to life. That is why we nurture an environment with a collective sense of belonging so that all our team members feel valued and appreciated. An inclusive approach improves the overall performance of the company and generates more positive outcomes for customers, patients and partners.

Roles and responsibilities

The Chief Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Officer is responsible for our global DE&I strategy and for steering its related activities. In this role, she reports directly to the Chair of the Executive Board, whose Board responsibilities include Group Human Resources.

In addition, we have established a centralized Diversity Council comprising high-ranking executives from all our business sectors and selected Group functions. The Diversity Council’s responsibilities include:

  • Supporting equity and inclusion across our organization and its activities.
  • Serving as ambassadors and advisors to the Executive Board and managing directors in country organizations.
  • Proposing strategic goals, initiating measures and encouraging managers to meet their responsibilities in their respective units.
  • Exchanging information, sharing best practices and aligning on next steps.
  • Working across businesses, functions and countries to integrate DE&I within our daily work to benefit our employees and customers.

In turn, the members of the Global Diversity Council chair Diversity, Inclusion, Community, and Equity & Engagement Councils in their respective businesses.

Our commitment: International policies and principles

Our Social and Labor Standards Policy categorically states that our company does 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 also participate in industry-wide initiatives:

  • The Women’s Empowerment Principles, an initiative of UN Women and the UN Global Compact network, help to promote gender equality and women’s empowerment in the workplace. In 2023, we also participated in the Target Gender Equality Programme of the UN Global Compact, which supports companies in achieving gender balance in business.
  • The Inclusion Action Plan of the German Mining, Chemical and Energy Industrial Union (IG BCE) defines concrete measures to create a more inclusive environment for employees with disabilities. In endorsing this plan, we meet the standards of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
  • The Equal Opportunity Charter, through which we pledge to do everything in our power to achieve gender equality within our company.
  • We are one of more than 5,000 signatories of the German Diversity Charter and a member of the German Diversity Charter association, a corporate initiative that promotes diversity in companies and institutions.
  • We are signatory to the CEO Letter on Disability Inclusion to support and promote the inclusion of people with disabilities.

In addition, we are a signatory to the Business Coalition for the Equality Act, an alliance of leading companies in the United States. We are also active in a number of external associations and public-private partnerships supporting equality, such as Healthy Women, Healthy Economies, ClosinGap (Spain), Women Empowerment Council (China), SEMI industry association (dedicated DE&I initiative), Embracing Carers™, and Disability:IN, promoting the full inclusion of people with disabilities.

Meeting statutory requirements

The German Act on the Equal Participation of Women and Men in Leadership Positions in the Public Sector and the Private Sector has been in force in Germany since 2015. Due to our legal status as a KGaA (a corporation with general partners), this law also applies to us in part.

With a 37.5% share of women (6 out of 16 members), our Supervisory Board already meets the requirements of German gender quota legislation. As a KGaA, we are not required to set targets for our Executive Board, which currently has a 40% share of women (2 out of 5). Detailed information can be found in the Statement on Corporate Governance in our Annual Report.

Strategy implementation

In 2023, we continued driving our global DE&I strategy. We accelerated the impact of our national DE&I advocates in our 18 major countries and developed tailored roadmaps for each market. We also published our Premier DE&I Report, providing detailed evidence of our strategy implementation and initiatives.

Progress on our 2030 aspirations

In 2021, we pledged to our people, partners, patients, and industry to intensify our DE&I efforts and set robust aspirations. In 2023, we demonstrated that we are on track to meeting our 2030 goals.

Gender equity: We developed measures to achieve a more balanced gender structure at various hierarchical levels of our business. We are making consistent progress and have increased the share of women in leadership (roles 4+) to 39% (2022: 38%) and senior management positions (roles 6+) to 29% (2022: 27%) while maintaining a 44% proportion of women in our global workforce (2022: 43%). This means our share of women in leadership has increased by 12 percentage points since 2015. Building on these efforts, we aim to achieve gender parity in leadership positions by 2030. Moreover, we are committed to fair and equitable pay for all employees. Our Executive Board comprises two female members (our CEO and CFO) and three male members, bringing the share of women to 40% (2022: 20%).

Women in leadership

Women in leadership roles (Bar chart)
Women in leadership

Culture and ethnicity: With 23% (2022: 24%) of our employees based in the United States and 27% (2022: 27%) of net sales coming from the United States it is crucial that we become an employer of choice among underrepresented racial and ethnic groups in this market. Therefore, we plan to increase the share of employees in U.S. leadership (roles 4+) who are members of underrepresented racial and ethnic groups from 23% (2022: 21%) to 30% by 2030.

Share of underrepresented racial and ethnical groups in US leadership

US leadership by ethnicity (Bar chart)
Share of underrepresented racial and ethnical groups in US leadership​

Additionally, due to our current performance in Asia, Latin America and the Middle East and Africa (MEA), accounting for 39% (2022: 40%) of our Group sales, we aim to increase the global share of nationals from Asia, Latin America and MEA in leadership positions (roles 4+) from 17% (2022: 16%) to 30% by 2030.

Global share of nationals from Asia, Latin America, Middle East & Africa in leadership

Participants in Inclusive Leadership Workshop (Bar chart)
Global share of nationals from Asia, Latin America, Middle East & Africa in leadership​

In 2023, we developed an Action Plan on Culture, Nationality and Ethnicity as well as a toolkit for leaders and HR to accelerate our progress as regards these aspects.

Inclusion: Beyond our aspiration to foster specific types of diversity and equity, we are accelerating our efforts to create a genuinely inclusive culture for all employees. To achieve this, we rolled out training courses to help leaders reflect on how they can lead more inclusively. All leaders will be encouraged to complete these courses over the coming years. At the end of 2023, 92% (2022: 64%) of our leaders had participated in this training program.

Participants in Inclusive Leadership Workshop

Participants in Inclusive Leadership Workshop​

Diversity figures are part of our compensation-related corporate goals. We use a prediction algorithm developed in-house to support the modeling and tracking of our key indicators for DE&I.

Committed to fair and equitable pay

Our commitment to pay equity is a crucial aspect of our DE&I strategy. To create transparency around unexplained pay gaps and identify their underlying root causes, we started a gender pay equity analysis in 2021. In the first step, we analyzed ten of our largest countries, covering approximately 80% of our total workforce. In 2023, we extended the analysis to all countries, except North America which is planned in 2024. The identified adjusted gender pay gap continues to be less than 1.5%, which is below benchmarks in the industry. We have developed a plan for a recurring analysis to continuously monitor pay data and to take effective actions as needed. These include individual adjustments based on the results of the analysis, as well as educating our HR community on the topic and taking other steps to ensure we make equitable and unbiased pay decisions.

Cultivating inclusion every day

We provide a framework for education in the areas of diversity, equity and inclusion, combined with empowerment to support inclusive leadership strategies. To maximize our leaders’ effectiveness in building diverse and inclusive teams, we offer the Inclusive Leadership Workshop as part of our inclusion key indicators. The workshop combines global leadership interactions, peer coaching, continuous self-reflection, and leadership accountability. It is mandatory for all our leaders.

We also offer various learning opportunities featuring training and listening sessions on how to be a more inclusive colleague, such as our unconscious bias training sessions. Highlights include our regular “CAREful Conversations” (an ongoing, carefully curated speaker and discussion series intended to inform and inspire) and “Moving Minds” (events and activities throughout November to embrace DE&I across our organization). With the introduction of the psychological safety module, we help our employees understand the importance of creating a safe working environment and fostering a culture where everyone’s voice is heard. We also launched four new self-directed training offerings, focusing on a range of inclusion topics. In addition, the inclusion index on our Employee Engagement Survey helps us better understand specific areas of opportunity and gain employee insights to create a more inclusive workplace. More information on how we approach employee engagement can be found under Corporate culture.

Since we work in an international environment, we support our employees with intercultural training and digital tools such as our Cultural Navigator. We also offer language training and international networks to assist employees in international assignments and projects. For example, more than 1,200 employees are members of the International Community, which meets regularly at our global headquarters in Darmstadt.

We strive to maximize our support for employees who are caregivers and parents, from daycare centers in Darmstadt and Mumbai to emergency childcare services in the United States and Germany, as well as dedicated networks and leave options for those with caregiver responsibilities for elderly or sick relatives. On top of a paid maternity leave of no less than eight weeks across the globe, we offer further paid parental leave options for both primary and secondary caregivers in numerous countries.

We introduced a new fertility benefit in 2023 to provide financial support for fertility treatments. The benefit offer applies to all employees irrespective of their marital status, gender identity or sexual orientation, as well as their partners. Across our U.S. business, we have also launched LGBTQIA+ support, including medical plans and fertility coverage. More information on our benefits landscape can be found under Career with us.

In 2023, we also emphasized making our sites more accessible and accommodating. We introduced a toolkit that provides our site managers with guidelines and practical examples on how to ensure our workplaces are more accessible and inclusive for all. These measures include but are not limited to offering multi-level accessibility at our buildings and events, accommodating individuals with both visible and unseen disabilities and providing gender-neutral restrooms and changing rooms as well as nursing rooms. In addition, we cater to digital accessibility with an AI-powered web accessibility tool on our external websites and provide inclusive IT tips for our employees worldwide.

Helping diverse talent flourish

To broaden diversity within our organization, we have continued to create a strong internal female talent pipeline, promote more women into leadership positions, and actively source external female candidates. Additionally, we focus on internal development and external sourcing of international and underrepresented ethnic candidates. We have also identified opportunities in each business sector to provide extra recruiting support and leverage existing and new talent to reach more diverse audiences.

We have taken a range of steps to enhance diversity within internal mobility. For example, we delivered enablement sessions to our Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) to inspire our employees to lead their career development. We also further equipped our Executive Recruiting team with standards to take a more active role in hiring our organization’s next generation of diverse leaders. In addition, we ran DE&I Awareness & Best Practice Sharing workshops for our internal Talent Acquisition community.

In 2023, we also conducted voluntary self-identification campaigns in specific regions to better understand our internal demographics. These campaigns encouraged employees to voluntarily provide information about their ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity, and disability or veteran status.

To promote diversity while hiring internal roles, we continued our various mentoring, sponsorship and talent programs. We are also exploring new partnership opportunities to reach more diverse STEM candidates externally. Our programs include McKinsey Connected Leaders Academy (Career development for aspiring leaders from underrepresented ethnic groups), GEM (mentoring and internship opportunities for underrepresented ethnic group candidates in science, engineering and technology) and LOC M Scholars (providing tuition support for family members of existing employees from underrepresented ethnic groups). We also added information about our ERG community to our onboarding process to support new hires by informing them about the various employee groups and networks we manage around the world.

A sense of belonging: our employee networks

Our internal DE&I employee groups and networks have over 28,000 members in total (since a person can be active in more than one group, the number of people may differ from the number of members). These members have created a strong base that fosters a sense of belonging for community members and their allies. Our more than 60 groups and networks include Women in Leadership, our Black Leadership Network, Rainbow networks, and I’M Able. We are also strongly represented at our local sites in a number of women-oriented organizations operating globally.

In 2023, we updated the ERG governance framework. We also provided additional resources to the ERG community with a global summit and the launch of a central information portal on our intranet.

Our networks drive inclusion

Our networks drive inclusion (Graphic)

Our networks drive inclusion

Well-Being communities

Focus on improving and preserving well-being by increasing awareness and creating professional opportunities in healthcare systems worldwide.

Disability Communities

A community of people with disabilities and allies who break stigmas and support business leaders on disability equality journeys while sharing resources and learnings.

Culture & Ethnicity Networks

Help propose solutions to support the attraction, retention and development of employees of color as well as other cultural and ethnic minorities.

Women Networks

Create an inclusive workplace that values, develops and advocates for the promotion of qualified women to achieve gender balance and long-term collective success.

Generational Networks

Raise awareness, drive development and foster a culture where everyone has equal career opportunities regardless of their age or career status.

International Community

A community of international, open-minded people dedicated to DE&I and elevating our company to new levels of inclusion by representing our values and responding to the needs of newcomers and expats. The network exchanges resources and knowledge to support a soft landing at local sites in Germany, and Switzerland.

Rainbow Networks

Promote a safe, inclusive and engaging work environment and foster a community where everyone, regardless of their sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression, has the same rights and opportunities at all levels of our company.

Veterans Networks

Support strategic diversity and inclusion efforts to attract, retain and develop military veterans in North America.

Inclusion Networks

Focus on local needs specific to their respective groups, putting the spotlight on topics such as “Flexibility” and “Responsibility within the Community”, among others.

Supporting DE&I in the communities around us

In 2023, we continued our partnership with CNote, a women-led impact investment platform, to improve economic growth and opportunity in the U.S. communities in which we operate. We made a US$ 20 million commitment to CNote, providing capital to support BIPOC-owned and women-led small businesses in those communities via microfinance loans. This approach utilizes cash on hand that is held in our company’s traditional bank accounts and instead deploys the cash to Community Development Financial Institutions that have a long track record of financial stability and serve low-income women and people of color entrepreneurs, fund affordable housing, and support other forms of economic inclusion.

In 2023, we expanded our commitment to supplier diversity to all of our three businesses in the United States, including all indirect spend categories. Our Supplier Diversity Program extends to historically underrepresented groups, including underrepresented ethnicities, women, LGBTQIA+ people, and veterans. We are committed to advancing DE&I at all levels of our organization and plan to expand the program to include direct categories and regions outside the United States, starting in 2024.

I’M IN is our external-facing DE&I initiative to amplify the voices of underrepresented populations and improve the healthcare ecosystem. Since 2019, we have collaborated with healthcare practitioners through educational events, enabling them to explore untapped topics of health inequity in multiple sclerosis (MS) care and learn how inclusion positively impacts the patient experience. In 2022, we established the I’M IN Neurodisparity Fellowship, dedicated to reducing disparities in neurological care for MS patients. We subsequently expanded the I’M IN fellowships to more therapeutic areas where our business is active, including oncology and reproductive health.

Additionally, we have established a diversity in clinical trials project, as we understand the need for a diverse patient population in clinical trials and throughout the drug development life cycle. To maintain inclusivity, we focus on four key pillars that identify key tactical and targeted efforts. We have collated these and other examples in an internal DE&I in the business playbook, encouraging our teams to consider inclusive approaches in R&D, product development, procurement, marketing, sales, and partnerships.

Ensuring fair treatment for all

We do not tolerate any form of discrimination in our company, as stipulated with binding effect in our Code of Conduct and Social and Labor Standards Policy. In January 2024, we published a new position paper on disability inclusion to complement our existing papers on DE&I, non-discrimination and non-harassment. In addition, we have established various reporting channels to ensure employees have a clear point of contact should they experience harassment or discrimination in the workplace or any other violations of our standards. Their first points of contact are their supervisors, HR or compliance teams, and they can also make anonymous calls to our compliance hotline. In the reporting year, our HR Business Partners involved in HR-related compliance case investigations participated in a training and upskilling program to equip them with enhanced employee relations and investigation skills. In 2023, 30 (2022: 20) alleged cases of discrimination or harassment were reported via the compliance hotline and other channels, seven (2022: seven) of which were confirmed on our global reporting platform and appropriate action was taken.

Solid ranking in diversity, equity and inclusion indices

We continue making progress on integrating diversity, equity and inclusion within our business:

  • We achieved a 100% score on the Corporate Equality Index (CEI) for the fifth consecutive year, and thus received the "Equality 100 Award".
  • We scored sixth in the German Diversity Index 2023 published by BeyondGenderAgenda. The index reflects the transparency of diversity commitments made by DAX 40 German blue-chip companies in their annual and sustainability reports for 2022.
  • We were awarded the Gold Seal in the Uhlala Group’s Pride Index 2023
  • We were recognized as a Best Place to Work for Disability Inclusion by Disability:IN.
  • In China, we were recognized as a Top 10 Employer in the "2023 DEI Employer Awards"
This abbreviation stands for Black, Indigenous, and people of color. Pronounced “bye-pock,” this is a term specific to the United States, intended to center the experiences of Black and Indigenous groups and demonstrate solidarity between communities of color.
This abbreviation stands for the National Consortium for Graduate Degrees for Minorities in Engineering and Science, Inc. This initiative offers MS (Master of Science) and Ph.D. (Doctor of Philosophy) level students an access to Engineering and Science firms and Universities in the US.
This abbreviation stands for Leaders of Color.
Managing director
This individual is ultimately responsible for ensuring that our subsidiaries, including R&D and manufacturing centers, comply with all applicable laws and regulations, including applicable internal guidelines.
This abbreviation stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics.

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