Social Engagement

Derived from its responsibility as a foundation-owned company, ZEISS promotes scientific and technological progress in its four segments and advocates for better living conditions worldwide.

More than 130 years ago, the Carl Zeiss Foundation statutes established a clear course. In addition to business growth and accepting responsibility for the company's employees, they stipulate high standards for social engagement and the continued promotion of science and education as a corporate responsibility. ZEISS thus has the express company mission of using its core business to improve the lives of people everywhere.

Tasked with this duty, ZEISS assumes an active role in society and makes an important contribution to sustainable development at its sites. ZEISS works with cooperation partners and makes financial and in-kind donations to scientific, cultural, social and environmental causes.

Sponsorship areas

Social engagement at the ZEISS Group promotes research and education, healthcare, nature conservation and societal topics.

Scientific Research and Education

ZEISS in Germany uses the Education and Science Fund established in 2012 under the umbrella of the ZEISS Promotion Fund to sponsor newcomers in the natural sciences. The spotlight is on education initiatives for young people – primarily high school students who have not yet chosen a degree program and college graduates who have not yet entered the world of work – and on encouraging them to develop their scientific skills and take part in projects and initiatives at universities and research institutes. The focus is on the natural sciences and engineering, particularly optics and photonics.


ZEISS is raising the bar in healthcare by offering solutions for ophthalmology and medical technology and helps to drive medical progress with microscopy products. Its mission is to help improve the lives of patients everywhere. Further, ZEISS makes financial and in-kind donations in the form of ZEISS products and solutions through a variety of different projects in order to give people around the globe access to high-quality medical care. One example of ZEISS' long-term commitment to improving global health is the Back to Bush program that was launched in 2007, which gives people living in disadvantaged areas, particularly the outback regions of Australia and Oceania, access to better surgical equipment.

Aloka Vision Programme
Since 2015, ZEISS has been teaming up with non-governmental organizations, foundations and small local businesses to deliver basic eye care to remote parts of rural India. Thanks to these partnerships, user-friendly digital platforms and an optimized supply chain, the Aloka Vision Program has made it possible to perform several thousand eye exams a month and supply glasses or eye care to patients as needed. In addition to setting up a basic infrastructure, it is essential to train small business owners and educate the population. After all, eyeglasses for the correction of defective vision are still often considered a luxury or even unnecessary. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the lockdown in India, all of these activities were put on hold. NGOs and ZEISS focused on the essentials: providing food to families who lost their source of income due to the lockdown and simultaneously occurring natural disasters. But the Aloka Vision Program has now adapted its processes to comply with the relevant hygiene practices and ZEISS has resumed the initiative.

Eye Exams for Children with Albinism
People with albinism not only have less melanin in their skin, but also often suffer from visual impairment, limited spatial vision and are near- or far-sighted. This prompted ZEISS to partner with the Ruta de la Luz Foundation to improve eye care for children with albinism in Kabanga (Tanzania). For two years, optometrists have been examining such children free of charge and providing them with eyeglasses to improve their vision and completely protect their eyes against harmful UV radiation. Around 650 eye exams have already been performed, and glasses with special filters supplied for light-sensitive eyes.

Training Centers in India and Uganda
In emerging countries, people often lack access to adequate medical care. One example is cataracts, which can be treated but affect around one-third of blind people worldwide. That is why in remote regions in particular, the training and continuing education of ophthalmologists and medical personnel are a key aspect of the fight against preventable blindness. Together with the Christoffel Mission for the Blind (CBM) and a local partner, the Poona Blind Men's Association, ZEISS opened a new training center for treating cataracts in Pune, India, in 2019. The center's mission is to train ophthalmologists and medical personnel throughout the country in phacoemulsification, a modern surgical technique. Twenty doctors were already trained in the new training center in 2019. In Kyamulibwa (Uganda), ZEISS and the Development Service for German Eyecare Professionals (Entwicklungsdienst Deutscher Augenoptiker, EDA) have also opened a training center. Eight local experts have been successfully trained there since August 2019.

Assisting with Intubation for COVID-19 Patients
Since the start of the pandemic, the ZEISS Medical Technology segment has been working on solutions that shield medical staff from infections. The ZEISS NURA video laryngoscope, for example, enables healthcare professionals to maintain a greater distance between themselves and patients, thereby reducing the risk of infection.

Nature Conservation

For ZEISS, protecting plant and animal species is particularly important. Binoculars and spotting scopes from ZEISS have an excellent reputation among nature lovers around the globe and they enable people to get closer to nature. In collaboration with professional associations, the company supports numerous nature conservation activities, educational programs for children and adults, and research programs to protect endangered animal species.

BirdLife International
ZEISS sponsors BirdLife International's scientific work on the Red List of Birds. The partnership among multiple bird conservation organizations with a total of 13 million members uses the list to record all endangered bird species, including their conservation status. The figures are reported to the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) and used as the basis for effective conservation efforts.

Outstanding Protection of Animals
Since 2015, ZEISS has supported Rhino Conservation Awards, which were also presented in four categories on World Ranger Day in 2020. The focus was originally on the conservation of endangered species and not just on protecting rhinos. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the awards ceremony was held online and  on various social media channels. The awards have been presented annually in South Africa since 2012 and aim to raise awareness for conservation. They honor those who actively campaign for the conservation of endangered animal species. The winners in 2020 include Samuel Loware from the Uganda Wildlife Authority and Don English from the South African National Parks. Mr. Loware has used effective surveillance and data capture to ensure that the giraffe and lion populations in Kidepo Valley National Park grow and Mr. English plays a leading role in the fight against rhino poachers in the Kruger National Park.

Regional involvement

ZEISS' strong position and a portfolio targeted to mega trends have ensured stability during the COVID-19 pandemic and continue to lead to investment in innovations and digitalization, and expansion of a modern infrastructure. This creates new jobs and vocational training positions, and also generates contracts for local suppliers in fields other than high technology. The company's development and production services for customers in the individual regions therefore enable scientific, technological, social, medical and environmental services to grow.

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