Social Engagement

According to the Carl Zeiss Foundation’s statutes, a central aspiration of ZEISS is to promote scientific and technological progress in the field of optics in order to improve living conditions worldwide.

Thanks to this aspiration, ZEISS plays an active role in society, with a focus on health, education and science, a commitment to social and cultural issues, and the environment – and that includes beyond the company’s own sites. Based on its responsibility as a foundation company, ZEISS actively contributes to social advancement at its locations. ZEISS’s partners directly benefit from cooperating with the company. In addition, ZEISS makes both financial and in-kind donations for scientific, cultural, social, and environmental purposes. The company’s dividends also allow the Foundation to live up to its defined non-profit purpose.

With the Carl Zeiss Foundation as the sole owner, ZEISS can plan for the long term, systematically implement its strategies, and as a result act as a stabilizing factor at its sites. Thanks to the company’s dynamic growth, the number of jobs offered around the world continues to grow. As a global technology leader, ZEISS stands for innovation and the spirit of research at its sites and, as such, creates a climate that gives its customers and partners the ability to perform at their peak to improve the lives of countless people.

Structure

As the sole shareholder of Carl Zeiss AG and SCHOTT AG, the Carl Zeiss Foundation carries out non-profit activities. In 1889, physicist and entrepreneur Ernst Abbe established it as the sole shareholder of Carl Zeiss AG and SCHOTT AG. This special ownership structure ensures stability and creates long-term prospects.

The objectives of the Foundation stipulated by Abbe remain valid to this day:

  • Safeguarding the future and responsible management of the two foundation companies
  • Fulfilling its special responsibility toward employees
  • Meeting its responsibility toward society through the commitment of its member companies to non-profit activities in their surrounding regions
  • Promoting Science

With this unique corporate model, the Carl Zeiss Foundation and its two member companies wrote industrial and social history. The Foundation uses the dividends generated by Carl Zeiss AG and SCHOTT AG to promote science – in particular the natural and engineering sciences, mathematics and information technology at universities in the German federal states of Baden-Württemberg, Rhineland-Palatinate and Thuringia.

The Promotion Fund in Germany

A clear process for making donations has been defined within the ZEISS Group, and the guidelines are laid out in an internal policy. The Carl Zeiss Promotion Fund and the Education and Science Fund are additional means of supporting societal advancement. In addition, the business groups and subsidiaries in Germany and abroad conduct their own activities. This allows them to best pursue their own interests in projects eligible to receive funding and take regional aspects into account.
Further information on sponsorship activities at ZEISS. 

Employee Engagement

There are also initiatives that have been launched at individual sites as well as in other areas as a result of employee civic engagement on the part of individual employees. While these activities are usually not directly funded by ZEISS, they do receive considerable recognition from the company and the employees’ supervisors, e.g. in the form of time and the opportunity to organize using the company’s internal structure. In September 2015, ZEISS was honored by the German state of Baden-Württemberg’s Ministry for the Interior as a “volunteer-friendly employer in the field of civil protection” (Ehrenamtsfreundlicher Arbeitgeber im Bevölkerungsschutz).

Sponsorship Areas

Scientific Research and Education

With the Education and Science Fund the company established in 2013, ZEISS aspires to foster future generations of natural scientists, from today’s preschool children to doctoral candidates. Here, the spotlight is on initiatives to promote education among young people, primarily high school students who have not yet selected a degree program, and their scientific skills, as well as projects and initiatives at universities and research institutes. The focus is on the fields of natural science and engineering, particularly optics and photonics.

Healthcare

ZEISS raises the bar in healthcare by offering solutions for ophthalmology and medical technology, and helps drive medical progress by supplying microscopy products. The aim is to help improve the lives of patients everywhere. Furthermore, the company 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’s long-term commitment to improving global health is the Back to Bush program it launched in 2007, which gives disadvantaged areas, particularly in Australia’s and Oceania’s outback regions, access to better surgical equipment.

Scholarship recipients of the International Council of Ophthalmology (ICO)
ZEISS has been supporting the scholarship program of the ICO Foundation since 2012. The scholarships enable young ophthalmologists from developing and emerging nations to spend time working at hospitals in Germany, Austria and Switzerland, where they can expand their knowledge of modern ophthalmology and later apply it in their home countries. The ICO has conferred 840 scholarships since 2000. Since 2012, ZEISS has financed six of the scholarship students.  

Commitment to better eyesight
Saving sight in the Amazonas: Due to the intense tropical sunlight, the number of cataract cases is particularly high in Brazil’s Amazon. Modern medical technology from ZEISS enables eye exams and operations in these remote regions.

Saving Sight in the Amazonas 

© ©CBM/Fundación Visión

Long-standing Partnership with Christoffel Mission for the Blind

The Christoffel Mission for the Blind (CBM) is an international Christian aid organization that aims to improve quality of life for the poor and people with disabilities. Together with ZEISS, the organization enables doctors to treat people in even the poorest regions of the world.

As a project partner, ZEISS has supported the CBM for many years at events and through material donations for eye care projects in Africa, Asia and South America. For example, ZEISS and the CBM, along with local partner Fundación Visión, have set up a new training center dedicated to cataract surgery in Asunción (Paraguay). The collaboration means that state-of-the-art ophthalmic techniques will be established in countries like Paraguay.

The Week of Sight, an annual event co-organized by the CBM, raises awareness for the importance of good vision and the causes of preventable blindness. ZEISS has supported this week-long campaign since 2002.

Nature Conservation

ZEISS is committed to the conservation of flora and fauna. The binoculars and spotting scopes from ZEISS allow people to get closer to nature and already have an excellent reputation among nature lovers around the globe. The ZEISS products allow people to experience nature up close. ZEISS works with professional associations to support many conservation activities and educational programs for children and adults. In addition, ZEISS also funds research programs aimed at protecting endangered animal species.

Champions of the Flyway
Each year, participants from several countries head out at midnight in southern Israel to gather information on as many bird species as possible in just 24 hours. Through the Champions of the Flyway campaign, the ornithologists aim to draw international visitors’ attention to the illegal capture of migratory birds and collect donations for a BirdLife project aimed at protecting them. ZEISS makes an annual donation to the project. Additionally, ZEISS annually supports teams participating in the birding competition, which are starting fundraising activities prior to the event.

BirdLife International
BirdLife International is an international partnership of national bird conservation groups with a total of 13 million members. ZEISS is the official sponsor of the scientific work for BirdLife’s Red List, which comprises information on all endangered bird species and the level of the threat to them. The information is provided to the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) and included in their Red List of endangered plant and animal species. The findings form the basis for the different conservation activities.

Naturschutzbund Deutschland e. V. (NABU, Germany)
NABU, the German nature conservation association of BirdLife International, aims to get people interested in nature conservation through collective action. The protection of birds and endangered animal species is one of NABU’s central activities. ZEISS is a long-standing supporter of the association and is also a partner of the NABU projects “Hour of the garden birds” and “Hour of the winter birds.” Nature enthusiasts across Germany are urged to observe birds for a set period of time, either in their garden or from their balcony, and notify NABU of their findings. The more information NABU has about the bird populations in cities, towns, gardens and parks, the better it can fight to protect the birds.

Social and Cultural Promotion/Regional Society

Stable growth and expansion of international activities lead to investments in the development of innovation, production, and service structures at ZEISS. This creates new jobs and vocational training positions and also generates contracts for local suppliers in fields other than high technology. In the previous fiscal year, ZEISS invested 154 million euros worldwide in the expansion and modernization of its sites. The company’s development and production services for customers in the individual regions in turn enables an increase in scientific, technological, social, medical and environmental services.  

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