Diversity and equal opportunities

GRI 405 and GRI 406

Fresenius respects and promotes a culture of diversity. We are convinced, that the combination of different perspectives, opinions, cultural backgrounds, and experiences enables us to tap the potential that makes us successful as a global company. The knowledge and social skills of our employees and their different ethnic, social, and religious backgrounds help us to develop a particular sensitivity for the local needs of our customers and patients. For further information on our diversity concept for the Management Board and the Supervisory Board, please see our Corporate Governance Declaration and Report in the Chapter Employees of our Annual Report.

Our approach

At Fresenius we support equal opportunities for all and consciously oppose discrimination of all kinds. No one may be discriminated against on the basis of skin color, ancestry, faith, political views, age, sex, sexual orientation, physical condition, appearance or other personal characteristics. We work in an atmosphere of mutual respect. Our dealings with each other are open, fair and appreciative. We do not tolerate insults, humiliation or harassment. Our managers have a special responsibility in this respect and act as role models. These values are laid down in the Fresenius Code of Conduct, which is binding for all employees. This lays the foundation of our cooperation and corporate culture.

Diversity lived in the business segments
GRI 405-1

Fresenius promotes international and interdisciplinary cooperation as well as diversity in our business segments and regions. The diversity of our markets and locations is also reflected in the workforce of the four business segments. In our home market in Germany, we have employees of more than 150 nationalities. All business segments attach great importance to equal opportunities for all employees in the workplace as well as in the application, selection and development procedures, and implement diversity concepts adapted to the requirements of the respective business models and regions.

In 2019, Fresenius Medical Care started a new global initiative as part of its Global Sustainability Program. The company focuses on identifying and implementing effective ways to enhance the benefits from a diverse workforce. In 2020, Fresenius Medical Care's objective was to gain a global overview of the current situation and define the scope of global initiatives for inclusion and diversity. In 2021, the company is planning to further develop its global initiatives and enhance its communication activities. For example, Fresenius Medical Care is planning to initiate a global communication and awareness campaign, as well as dedicated leadership and employee focus sessions on diversity.

Inclusion and diversity in leadership is an important factor for the development of our business. Fresenius Medical Care’s management team reflects the company's international footprint in various markets. Of the more than 1,150 senior leaders of the Company who take part in our Long-Term Incentive Plan (LTIP), 85% are non-German.

Fresenius Kabi emphasizes equal opportunities for all employees in daily work as well as in recruiting, application and development processes. Numerous projects are placed in an intercultural environment. In many areas of the company, transnational teams are working on solutions to the manifold challenges in the health care sector. As the basis for the shared understanding of collaboration, Fresenius Kabi has defined company values that have been introduced worldwide. The company values of Fresenius Kabi – customer focus, quality, integrity, collaboration, creativity and passion and commitment – form the basis for day to day actions of all Fresenius Kabi employees.

At Fresenius Helios, the aspiration to be non-discriminatory and provide equal opportunities extends not only to employees but also to patients. Fresenius Spain's management, for instance, is committed to using gender equality tools – for example, through integrative language and training, or in procedures such as personnel selection processes and internal promotions, as well as in cases of sexual harassment or gender discrimination. Helios Spain, meanwhile, is currently in the process of negotiating equality plans for all companies in the hospital group. This kind of equality plan respects the European directives and the national rules in Spain on equal opportunities and wage transparency between men and women, and also guarantees non-discrimination in the workplace.

Fresenius Vamed focuses, among other things, on addressing diversity in effective promotion of young talent and management of succession planning. In the area of training and development in particular, the diversity of employees is taken into account and, for example, online training is offered in various languages.

Dealing with incidents of discrimination

Information about violations of the principles of the Fresenius Code of Conduct and other possible misconduct can be reported via various reporting systems – anonymously if necessary, as described in the chapter Compliance. All information is carefully examined and appropriate action taken according to the results of the investigation. Depending on the type and severity of misconduct, sanctions, such as actions under employment, civil or criminal law, can be imposed. After finishing the investigation, measures that prevent future misconduct, or at least make it more difficult for it to take place, are implemented.

In 2020, Fresenius Medical Care developed a global policy on respectful work behavior. This policy specifies company standards in the areas of non-discrimination, non-harassment, and non-bullying. The business segment plans to roll out this policy worldwide in 2021 together with a global policy on the prohibition of child labor and modern slavery, including forced labor and human trafficking.

Fresenius Kabi has guidelines and reporting systems for reports of potential violations of the principles defined in the Fresenius Kabi Code of Conduct. At Helios Germany, incidents involving discrimination are processed via the clinic management in cooperation with the human resources managers and, depending on the severity of the incident, escalated to regional or central level. As a rule, in the event of incidents of discrimination, a crisis management team is deployed to advise on the specific procedure to be used on a case-by-case basis. The company’s head of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSRCSR (Corporate Social Responsibility)CSR refers to the social responsibility of companies. Their operations can affect economic, social, and environmental conditions all over the world.) is part of this team. At Helios Spain, incidents involving discrimination can be reported via the Human Resources Department, the intranet and the employee portal. At Fresenius Vamed, suspected cases are raised, assessed and reported via the Compliance Organization.

Organization and responsibilities

In order to integrate equal opportunities in all processes and workflows, the business segments have put structures in place that are tailored to their requirements. In 2020, Fresenius Kabi created a Center of Expertise Leadership & Talent, Talent Acquisition & Employer Branding, Organizational Development, Diversity & Inclusion, which reports directly to the head of the Global Human Resources Department. The Center of Expertise aims to anchor diversity and inclusion in the organization and to support the regional and divisional human resources functions in their activities with a global framework.

At Helios Germany, the Director of Human Resources has overall responsibility for diversity, with the Central Human Resources Service and the company’s Head of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) responsible for the design and implementation of measures. In the hospitals, the clinic management is responsible for implementing the diversity concepts. In Spain, the business segment is working on creating the position of equal opportunities officer who will also act as a consultant for the management of each location. At Fresenius Vamed, a gender representative oversees gender issues.

Policies and regulations

Our aspirations with regard to diversity are laid down in the Fresenius Code of Conduct. This code makes our stance clear, i.e., to support equal opportunities for all and to oppose discrimination of all kinds. It forms the framework for all the rules and codes of conduct applicable in the business segments of the Fresenius Group.

Our commitment to inclusion and diversity is also integrated in our Code of Ethics and Business Conduct. Fresenius Kabi has formulated and implemented company values for all employees. These values contribute to a common understanding of the corporate culture. The company values of Fresenius Kabi underline the importance of respectful collaboration between all employees and are part of its Code of Conduct. Fresenius Vamed and Helios Spain also commit to a diverse corporate culture in their codes of conduct.

Our ambitions

The Management Board of Fresenius has set targets of 33.3% and 37.5% for the proportion of women in the two management levels directly below the Management Board.
At the end of the reporting year, these targets were not achieved. For more information, please refer to our Corporate Governance Report. We have also set new targets, which we also present there.Fresenius Medical Care had 69% female employees at December 31, 2020. Gender diversity in the main governance bodies and at management level has increased over time. The proportion of women on the Management Board was 25% at the end of the reporting year. In 2020, the business segment set itself new global targets for the percentage of women in leadership positions. The Management Board defined a new target of 22% for the share of women in the first management level below the Management Board and 32% in the second management level, to be achieved by 2025. The new targets follow the fulfillment of targets set in 2016. Fresenius Medical Care intends to further strengthen inclusion and diversity beyond gender diversity over the next few years. This includes, among others, a greater focus on ethnicity, sexual orientation, and disability.

Helios Germany has set itself the goal of increasing the proportion of women in management positions in the long term. At the hospital level, a total of 39 of our hospitals set concrete targets in 2019 based on legal regulations. The targets are to be achieved by 2022. For many years ‑ and independently of legislative activities and regulations ‑ Fresenius Helios has pursued the clear goal of increasing the proportion of women in management positions. In the area of our regional management, the figure is already approximately 40%.

Progress and measures 2020

Initiatives to promote diversity and equal opportunities
Fresenius Helios

To support its foreign employees, in particular foreign nurses as described in chapter Employees, Helios Germany began to train staff as integration managers in 2020. These future integration managers will support nurses who come to us from abroad when they arrive in Germany, helping them to deal with authorities and providing support in other situations. The aim of doing this is to help with social and cultural integration, as well as aiding professional and linguistic integration. This is supported and complemented by local initiatives at each hospital location. A wide range of measures are being implemented in all hospitals in Germany to promote diversity and equal opportunities. These include (selection of examples):

  • Intercultural after-work meetings
  • Prayer rooms for different religions
  • Changing rooms for transgender employees
  • In-hospital interpreter pools for foreign patients
  • Regional campaign days in the form of an ongoing series of events for active intercultural exchange among employees (Erfurt)
  • A queer community with drop-in centers and regular meetings

In addition, Helios Germany’s Corporate Inclusivity Agreement envisages the introduction of online training for executives on inclusivity from 2021 onward.

Fresenius Vamed

Fresenius Vamed has developed concepts for the integration of foreign nursing staff. The Leadership Program, newly introduced in 2020, provides participants with an understanding of other cultures as part of the learning module Intercultural Competence Management and promotes intercultural action skills as well as mutual adaptability.


GRI 405 and GRI 406

Fresenius Helios publishes the annual quotas for Germany as well as the target resolutions on the proportion of women in the respective management positions on its corporate website on www.helios-gesundheit.de/impressum (German language only). The target resolutions of the individual hospitals are valid until June 30, 2022.

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