In the competition for talents, ZEISS positions itself as an attractive employer and benefits from its reputation as a global and innovative foundation-owned company with a strong focus on its corporate values. It has been firmly anchored in the company’s corporate culture since ZEISS was founded.

Achieving precision, innovation and unparalleled quality requires motivated and qualified employees. In light of demographic change and the increasing shortage of skilled workers, the diversity and equal opportunities championed at the company will prove to be key competitive advantages. ZEISS is proactively facing these challenges with a global recruiting strategy – fully in line with the ZEISS Agenda 2020. The goal is to make the company more customer-oriented, more competitive and more digital while also strengthening global collaboration as a team. Further important aspects regarding ZEISS’ responsibility toward its employees are operational co-determination and employee development. The former goes beyond the statutory provisions in Germany.

Employee Involvement

The more involved employees feel at the company, the more motivated they will be. In Germany, co-determination is the tool used for involving employees. Yet as a company that operates across the globe, it is important to ZEISS that its core values and concepts be put into practice at all sites worldwide.

Guidelines, Structures and Processes
Corporate Human Resources works with HR managers and division representatives to define standards and procedures for strategic and overarching areas of activity and implements them within the scope of the department’s functional management worldwide. This department is the Group Works Council’s main partner for dialogue and negotiation, and is the point of contact for all of the companies’ human resources departments.

Operational co-determination is well-established at ZEISS, and the principles of the Foundation Statute are enshrined at the sites in Germany. Statutory matters and issues regulated by collective wage agreements are negotiated with the respective employee representatives. In addition, ZEISS regularly discusses planned changes and initiatives with the committees made up of employee representatives. In accordance with the provisions of the German Co-Determination Act, half the members of the Supervisory Board of Carl Zeiss AG represent the sole shareholder – the Carl Zeiss Foundation – while the other half represent the employees. The Executive Board regularly reports to the Supervisory Board regarding current issues and planned operational changes. The European locations of Carl Zeiss Vision International GmbH send employee representatives to the European Works Council (EWC).

Pulse Check, a global employee survey conducted on a regular basis, gives all staff the chance to provide feedback on the corporate culture anonymously. Pulse Check results provide information on the current status of the corporate culture, as well as on the progress that has already been made and what priorities should be set in the future. The survey addresses the attractiveness of ZEISS as an employer, the prevalence of the values SERVE – EMPOWER – ACT – WIN in daily activities, and other current cultural issues within the context of the company's strategy, the ZEISS Agenda 2020. The most recent Pulse Check was held between the end of January and mid-February 2018. The results were presented to the Executive Board and discussed with ZEISS employees. The survey will be run for the eighth time in 2020.

Objectives and Results
In order to meet our goal of becoming an attractive employer, ZEISS emphasizes the importance of a good relationship to its employees and takes different measures to maintain this on an ongoing basis. So far, it has been successful: more than 80 percent of its employees said they enjoy working at ZEISS in the 2018 Pulse Check survey. 75 percent said they would recommend ZEISS as an employer. Both values had improved since the previous survey. New potential improvements were also identified alongside this positive development – such as enhanced cross-divisional collaboration. In order to continue building on the positive trends and make improvements, ZEISS implemented further measures in the reporting period. Numerous Dialogue Tours were held across the globe in which the Executive Board discussed the corporate strategy with employees.

By launching the ZEISS Agenda 2020 initiative, the company has established a clear strategy for the years ahead. In order to successfully implement it, the strategy must go hand in hand with the development of the corporate culture. A reliable tool is the Cultural Journey. Launched in 2008, it involves employees in shaping change processes. Employees addressed the necessary changes in various formats, such as Team Summits. They spoke about aspects such as how to improve global collaboration and prepare the company for the digital future.

Training and Education

ZEISS offers plenty of training opportunities and works with various universities. In the reporting year, a total of 159 young people began a vocational training program or a combined degree-and-vocational-training program at the German locations in Göttingen, Jena, Oberkochen and Wetzlar. They are either being trained in the fields of industrial mechanics, precision optics, mechatronics and industrial business management, or are completing a combined degree which marries theoretical knowledge with real-world application. With its sophisticated dual education system, ZEISS is contributing to the development of society, especially at its German sites.

Both young and more seasoned professionals have the chance to take part in a host of development programs and international networking events. This prepares them for new challenges and ultimately increases ZEISS’ appeal as an employer – which plays an extremely important role in combating the lack of skilled workers. With a wide range of training and education programs – for example, in the form of web-based seminars – ZEISS also offers professional development opportunities for employees worldwide.

Advanced training includes a focus on the development of managers. In addition to a mandatory program to prepare them for their first leadership experience, ZEISS also promotes job rotation for its employees. Postings abroad within the company are enabled through a variety of different programs. Various offerings to identify and develop talents support employees in their professional careers, with special attention paid to their particular skills and their development. This way, ZEISS not only enables promising careers for managers, but also offers attractive career paths for R&D and Innovation specialists, and for service employees.

Guidelines, Structures and Processes
Through the promotion and further development of its employees, ZEISS is laying the foundations for attracting qualified and motivated talents, and ensuring they continue working at the company for many years to come. To support the ongoing education of all employees, an online learning platform was established, providing access to a wide variety of educational formats – from classroom-based learning to courses that are entirely online. Known as the Group Learning Program, it has been available since fiscal year 2016/17 – initially only to German-speaking locations – and offers more than 150 different training modules. Globally, the program has been enhanced with numerous e-books that are available for download on the learning platform. Internal qualification offerings and measures are consolidated on the Group Learning Platform and rolled out worldwide.

Corporate Human Resources (CHR) is responsible for training and education, talent management and management development. The department works closely with the local human resources departments within functional teams, service areas and projects.

Measures and Results
At the end of the reporting period, ZEISS employed a total of 517 vocational trainees and students in a combined vocational-training-and-degree program in Germany (previous year: 464). To ensure that young talents remain interested in ZEISS in the years ahead, the company stays in touch with approximately 10 percent of its best interns through a retention program. Ultimately, approximately 600 young people completed a technical or business-related internship at the company’s German locations or wrote their thesis at ZEISS. In addition, roughly 250 high school students had the opportunity to explore their future career options as part of a high school internship.

As a global technology leader, ZEISS needs employees who are willing to move around the world. At the present time, 68 employees from Germany are working in 21 different countries worldwide. 16 employees from abroad have also been assigned to work in Germany at the present time. There are also many third-country assignments. They all use the opportunity that ZEISS offers to work abroad as part of a globally defined and structured process for limited-time assignments. They thus support the Group’s cohesion while significantly expanding their professional and personal horizons.

Key Figures

Use of the ZEISS Learning Platform in fiscal year 2018/19
23,916 active users (of which 12,158 in Germany)*

who have completed at least one online course

145,342 online courses

completed globally


of eBooks

Learning figures for Germany

Fiscal year (FY)





Total no. of courses completed

Share of men
Share of women

74 %
26 %





Total no. of participant-days***

Share of men
Share of women

76 %
24 %





* In fiscal year 2017/18, the ZEISS Learning Platform was rolled out worldwide and expanded through the addition of online courses. In the Sustainability Report for 2017/18, the number of online courses completed in Germany was stated incorrectly. The reported figures can thus not be compared with the current data (GRI 102-48).

** In the Sustainability Report for 2017/18, instead of the number of users in Germany, the number of active users worldwide, including customers and suppliers, was erroneously given. Starting in fiscal year 2018/19, this figure applies solely to ZEISS employees (GRI 102-48).

*** Based on the estimated length of the training course (one participant-day corresponds to 7.5 training hours) and not including travel or preparation time.

Diversity and Equal Opportunity

With over 31,000 employees in almost 50 countries, diversity is part and parcel of everyday life at ZEISS. The company is shaped by a diverse array of skills, mentalities, leadership and work styles, cultural backgrounds and lifestyles. This is a great advantage because diverse teams are more creative and solution-oriented, which helps them innovate. Thus, diversity strengthens the company’s ability to innovate and plays a key role in the implementation of the ZEISS Agenda 2020.

At the same time, diversity in all its forms is the key to the global success of an international company like ZEISS – because employees know the markets, understand customers’ different needs and know how to respond to business partners’ cultural practices and customs. This greatly contributes to local acceptance and trust in the company.

Experiencing Diversity

To make adjusting to a new cultural environment easier, ZEISS initiated the International Club in 2012, which now has more than 200 members. It helps international employees better integrate at the German locations in Oberkochen and Aalen. Regular events help the new arrivals build their own social network and become familiar with their new surroundings. At Language Lunches, the participants have the opportunity to speak their native language and meet their coworkers from other departments. The Language Lunches are now held at the Oberkochen location in six different languages: French, Italian, Dutch, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish. 

Guidelines, Structures and Processes
Both the Foundation Statute and the ZEISS Code of Conduct prohibit all forms of discrimination, whether due to “ethnic or social origin, skin color, gender, age, familial status, disability, religion, nationality, sexual identity or any other features” (ZEISS Code of Conduct). ZEISS further bolstered its commitment to diversity by signing the Diversity Charter in July 2017. The goal of this business initiative under the patronage of German Chancellor Angela Merkel is to promote the acceptance, appreciation and inclusion of diversity in the German work environment.

When it comes to its strategy for promoting diversity, ZEISS focuses on five aspects in particular:

  1. Professional background: Being open to different careers and educational backgrounds.
  2. Internationality: Employees from different cultures with different nationalities deserve to work in an atmosphere of mutual respect and esteem.
  3. Generations: The work environment needs to be organized so that different generations can work together successfully.
  4. Gender: Everyone should receive the same opportunities, regardless of gender.
    Workplace culture: An open and flexible workplace culture enables all employees to achieve the right work/life balance.

To actively promote diversity, an organizational structure was established for managing diversity in fiscal year 2017/18 and was retained in fiscal year 2018/19. Corporate Human Resources is taking the lead; it has the support of multiple committees and reports to the Executive Board. In the 2018/19 reporting year, the focus was on onboarding and, in particular, on continuing to improve the integration of international employees in Germany, as well as promoting global networking and knowledge-sharing among employees worldwide. A working group that oversees the implementation of these projects meets at regular intervals. Its members are representatives from different business units and regions. Executives and management are obliged to model integrity through their own behavior, inform employees about the rules, monitor compliance with these rules and rectify any violations. Local human resources departments assist CHR with clarifying and resolving any violations.

Objectives and Results
The primary diversity objectives are to better integrate international employees at the German locations and to promote differences in the following five dimensions: professional background, generations, gender, internationality and workplace culture. In order to create a corporate culture that promotes, recognizes and values diversity, information was published on the intranet and made available globally in 2017.

During the Diversity Days 2019, numerous activities were rolled out in many countries to raise awareness for diversity at ZEISS. In addition, in fiscal year 2018/19 ZEISS started, continued or expanded the following initiatives in Germany:

  • Cooperation network for international employees and their families
  • Mentoring program for women at Aalen University, Ernst Abbe University in Jena, and the University of Jena, to promote equal opportunities
  • A cooperation network for childcare and care for relatives to enable a better work/life balance
  • A network for new employees that transcends divisional and departmental boundaries and promotes knowledge-sharing, and helps them settle into life at ZEISS

Employees were enthusiastic about taking part in the events and were interested in promoting diversity. This underscores how relevant the topic is for the corporate culture and that the initiatives are having a positive impact.

In fiscal year 2018/19, Carl Zeiss AG was named a “family- friendly company” for the second time due to its exceptionally family-conscious, systematic HR policy. This accolade was bestowed by the Baden-Württemberg State Council for Family Affairs and by the employers involved in the familyNET project.

Occupational Health and Safety

For ZEISS, guaranteeing a healthy work environment and a safe workplace is a fundamental obligation toward its employees. This also applies to employees from non-ZEISS companies acting on behalf of ZEISS. ZEISS promotes its employees’ health and performance through comprehensive safety measures and occupational health examinations. In doing so, the company reduces compliance risks and ensures productivity.

Guidelines, Structures and Processes
Safety in the workplace and protecting the health of all employees are principles enshrined in both the Foundation Statute and the ZEISS Code of Conduct. The Chief Financial Officer, a member of the Executive Board, is responsible for occupational health and safety. In all ZEISS business units, the respective heads are responsible for occupational health and safety and, as such, for the development, implementation, auditing and continuous improvement of health and safety performance, as well as for implementing Group-wide policies. The responsibilities of all ZEISS employees and managers with regard to occupational health and safety are outlined in a Corporate Standard Operating Procedure.

A Global Coordinator for Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) has been appointed. All ZEISS Group entities are obligated to appoint an OHS Officer in writing. The duties of the OHS Officer can differ as a result of local legislation, but always include advising management and assessing workplace risks. Furthermore, all ZEISS employees are called on to actively promote occupational safety and report risks to their supervisors or the respective OHS Officer. The company units organize their own training programs on occupational health and safety, which are the responsibility of the respective managers.

Every month, 57 units with over 24,400 employees supply statistics on the frequency and severity of workplace accidents. The OHS coordinator reviews the statistics together with the head of the particular business unit and the employee who submitted the figures. Monitoring plausibility improves the reporting quality and more firmly anchors the topic of occupational health and safety within the company. The frequency and severity of workplace accidents among employees who primarily work in administration and sales outside of Germany are currently not included in the data because of their lower estimated risk potential. ZEISS promotes occupational health management primarily in Germany, but there are also individual initiatives at international sites. Insofar as health management contributes to a modern workplace and good working conditions, it is also an important factor when recruiting young talents.

Objectives and Results
The main objective of the ZEISS Group is to reduce the frequency and severity of workplace accidents. The Executive Board set the goal of achieving a Lost Time Injury Frequency Rate (LTIFR) of less than 2.25 for all the ZEISS Group’s production units by the end of 2023. In fiscal year 2018/19, the LTIFR was 3.82* (2017/18: 3.96), and there were no fatal workplace accidents. Most of the accidents that occurred within the ZEISS Group in Germany were caused by personal conduct such as not following work instructions or not paying attention. ZEISS responds to this challenge primarily by organizing training for managers and by running information campaigns for its employees.

The Occupational Health and Safety goals for the ZEISS Group were supplemented in fiscal year 2018/19. The aim is to further standardize internal processes and ensure their consistency. In order to achieve this goal, in fiscal year 2018/19 ZEISS began implementing a holistic software solution for the Occupational Health and Safety Management System. ZEISS is using a standardized solution to do this.

Further information is available in the current Sustainability Report.

If you have any questions or comments on sustainability at ZEISS, please write to us at: respons ibility @zeiss .com