We are pursuing a Group-wide, global diversity strategy. Within the Group, diversity stands for a culture of inclusion, mutual esteem, and respect. To demonstrate this open and dynamic company culture, we promote diversity, equal opportunity, and inclusion throughout the Group – and do so at all levels, including the Executive Board and Supervisory Board.
We believe that a diverse workforce boosts the innovative strength of the Group and contributes materially to our business success. That is why we are furthering a culture of diversity independent of factors such as age, gender, disability, ethnic or cultural background, religion, industry experience, and educational background. As part of our global diversity strategy, we have developed a diversity policy to strategically steer the topics of diversity and inclusion in our corporate bodies; this focuses on the following key criteria:
Our Group-wide diversity strategy encompasses both voluntary as well as legally defined objectives that we continuously and sustainably work to achieve (see also the “Diversity and Inclusion” section of the Non-Financial Statement and the Sustainability Report for 2022). In this context, it should be noted that, with respect to the Executive Board of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, many rules can only be applied correspondingly. This is because the Executive Board comprises personally liable general partners of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, and is not a management board with employed members of a corporate body (for details, please also see the “Joint Report of the Executive Board and the Supervisory Board”).
In addition to the aspects presented below, reference is made to the objectives of the Supervisory Board with respect to its composition and the profile of skills and expertise of the Supervisory Board (see the information on the “Objectives of the Supervisory Board with respect to its composition and profile of skills and expertise”). The statements made therein form part of the diversity policy for the Supervisory Board presented here.
Our boards are to have a balanced age structure. This permits future-oriented and consistent succession planning and is a key element of sustainable company management and monitoring. Maximum age limits apply to both boards. A maximum age of 70 applies to members of the Executive Board, while the standard age limit for Supervisory Board members is 75. Our diversity policy aims for an age range of at least ten years between the youngest and the oldest member of the respective board.
With an age range of over 35 years, the current composition of the Supervisory Board satisfies this objective. The age range of the Executive Board is currently eight years.
Gender diversity also plays a crucial role, since it enables us to benefit from a larger talent pool and allows us to develop a better understanding of important customer groups as a company.
Additionally, our company continues to pursue representation of both genders as an objective for the Executive Board. The Board of Partners of E. Merck KG, Darmstadt, Germany, appointed Belén Garijo, former CEO of Healthcare and Vice Chair of the Executive Board, as the new Chair of the Executive Board effective May 1, 2021, making it the first time a woman has been appointed to these positions. The statutory target of 30% pursuant to section 96 (2) AktG already applies to the Supervisory Board of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, and is currently met.
Internationality and global mindset
As a science and technology company with global operations and major markets on five continents with more than 64,000 employees1 at locations in 662 countries, internationality and the associated global mindset is one of our key success factors. According to our diversity policy, the Executive Board’s internationality derives from leadership experience or national origin, relative to our key sales markets or those locations that are organizationally and culturally relevant to our employee development efforts. For both criteria, Europe, North America, and Asia-Pacific are currently the key regions.
The Executive Board meets this objective with management experience in these regions, e.g., in the following countries: Denmark, Spain, the United States, Singapore, and Malaysia. In addition, more than one-third of the Executive Board members are not German citizens.
The key prerequisites for high-performance leadership teams are the diversity of the individual competency profiles and a balance between an internal and external management perspective. Therefore, the Executive Board as a whole must have in-depth knowledge and experience in the following key areas of importance to the company: strategy and planning, finance and accounting, sales and operations, human resources, legal and compliance, and information technology, as well as ecological and social sustainability. In addition, it is important for the composition of the Executive Board to ensure a good balance of members from within and outside the company. Our diversity policy seeks to derive inspiration and innovation from outside the company and to identify the latest trends of relevance to the core businesses of the company, while ensuring sustainability and continuity in line with our corporate culture.
The current Executive Board fulfills both of the aforementioned objectives: All required aspects of the competency profile are covered by at least one member of the Executive Board. Likewise, two members of the Executive Board possess multiple years of experience working within the Group prior to their appointment to the Executive Board.
To efficiently lead and manage the Group, the Executive Board must have in-depth knowledge of the key industries and business sectors in which the company operates. For each of the areas Life Science, Healthcare, and Electronics, there should be at least one member of the Executive Board with in-depth expertise in accordance with the diversity concept.
The Executive Board covers the full range of the necessary industry experience.
In order to translate the tremendous innovative potential of a science and technology company into sustainable business success, interdisciplinary educational backgrounds are a key element of our diversity policy both for the Executive Board and for the Supervisory Board. The current composition of both boards illustrates this interdisciplinary aspect to a very high degree.
The members of the Executive Board contribute knowledge of various fields including economic sciences, medicine (pharmacology, physical education), information technology, and electrical engineering. In addition, the majority of members of the Executive Board hold a university and doctorate degree.
Moreover, the members of the Supervisory Board have a background in one or more of the following fields of specialization: chemistry, pharmaceutics, mathematics, law, human medicine, business administration and economics, physics, education, and computer sciences, among others.
Seven Supervisory Board members are university graduates and hold doctorates.
1 The Group also has employees at sites that are not fully consolidated subsidiaries. These figures refer to all people directly employed by the Group and therefore may deviate from figures in the financial section of this report.
2 Each country with at least one active employee is included as a separate country.