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People and Communities Engaging our Colleagues

As a family-owned company, we know that people are the heart of our company and that shared values are essential to success. To achieve our sustainable business goals, we need to attract and retain the best talent, stimulate creative and innovative thinking, and draw fully on the knowledge, experience and diverse backgrounds of our employees.

Building a Diverse Workplace

Throughout our 120-year history, Firmenich has demonstrated a strong commitment to people. Expressed in our Fundamentals and Corporate Diversity and Inclusion Policy, this commitment materialized in many projects including the globalization of gender equality pay, an international management trainee program and our Female Leadership Program.


Firmenich is committed to compensating all employees fairly and equitably. In FY14, we conducted a study on gender pay equity, starting in our global headquarters in Geneva, and touching more than 1,500 employees.

After this analysis, we received endorsement from the Swiss Confederation that we operate according to Gender Equality Pay Principles. In FY15 and FY16, we began reviewing our compensation structure globally, using the same external methodology or relying on local governmental certifications when available. At the end of FY16, we analyzed half of the Firmenich workforce and we expect to finalize the global gender pay analysis in October 2016. Action plans will be implemented if needed to ensure we reach equity and fairness in compensation for our affiliates around the world.


Since becoming signatories of the CEO Statement of Support for the Women’s Empowerment Principles (WEP) in FY13, we have developed numerous programs to ensure we live by these seven principles throughout our company. We want to ensure that women are represented at the highest levels of the company and are actively involved in company strategy.

To develop senior female talents, Firmenich has developed the Senior Female Leader Program to strengthen career management plans and increase companywide visibility of our female leaders. As part of this program, our CEO and top executives mentor female leaders and help them accelerate their development and fulfill their career aspirations within Firmenich.

Firmenich also created the Women’s Initiative Network (WIN), a global virtual network created as part of Firmenich’s Senior Female Leader Program. Its purpose is to enrich career development and work-life balance through knowledge and experience exchange among its members. WIN provides opportunities for members to meet, discuss topics of interest and share advice and best practices.

In 2016, membership in the WIN network increased 61%, with 320 active members globally. Through inspiring internal events and a digital platform, WIN provides opportunities for members to meet, discuss topics of interest and share advice and best practices.

In 2016, the WIN Network hosted events to highlight the extraordinary careers of female leaders. In March 2016, Firmenich organized a panel entitled, “Women in Boards”, which brought together our Chief Research Officer and executive team member, Geneviève Berger, along with Karen Jones and Barbara Kux, who sit on our independent Board of Directors. More than 80 senior-level managers attended the event, including our CEO Gilbert Ghostine, and several members of our executive teams.


Employees who enjoy work-life balance are happier, more engaged and more productive. Where possible, Firmenich offers flexible work arrangements that allow our employees to manage multiple responsibilities at home, at work, and in the community. This is beneficial not only for our people but for our business, as it helps us attract and retain top talent. Our policies include work-from-home arrangements, part time assignments and maternity and post-maternity arrangements.


In FY15, in Mexico, we collaborated with a local non-profit organization to develop a socially responsible external sensory panel that would develop the sensory capabilities of visually impaired people. Following a five-month pilot project, Firmenich hired 10 panelists on July 1st 2015, successfully integrating visually impaired sensory testers in its market research process.

Youth Employment

In FY15, Firmenich expanded our management trainee program globally to strengthen our future leadership base and encourage global careers. New management trainee programs in China, Brazil and the U.S. join existing programs in Switzerland, the UK and Singapore.

Global and regional coordination allows trainees to work on three successive assignments, often in three different countries and departments, to better understand our key challenges. They are supervised by mentors during their 18-month internship and given frequent feedback and opportunities to grow into Firmenich leadership positions. This global management trainee program will help us develop our talent pipeline and meet future talent requirements.

We continue to participate in the Nestlé Alliance for YOUth, an ambitious project bringing together private companies and national governments to fight youth unemployment.

In FY16, Firmenich:
• Developed our existing apprenticeship programs in Austria, Germany, Belgium, France and Switzerland. These programs offer work opportunities for young people at all educational levels and in all job sectors. We collaborate with local universities and offer a wide range of internships throughout Europe.
• Supported the organization of common “Readiness for Work” seminars with other Alliance for YOUth partners. These seminars are organized on a national or local level to refine soft skills for apprentices from Alliance partners.
• Participated in education and skill-building programs in the local communities where we operate. We provided assistance in résumé writing, organized mock interviews, supported mentorship and job shadowing for young people and hosted educational visits to our facilities, among other activities.

To complement these actions, we share best practices among our locations and with other Alliance partners to increase our initiatives’ relevance and impact.

Talent Management, Leadership and Development

Firmenich set ambitious goals in FY15 to fill 80% of open positions internally, to create more career opportunities for Firmenich talent. We will refocus our talent development process by identifying internal talent, assessing their readiness for job openings within Firmenich and supporting skills development.

We also continue to invest in global training. In FY15, we conducted skills-based training in project management and business acumen for 230 participants in Geneva, Switzerland; Princeton, New Jersey, U.S.; São Paulo, Brazil; Shanghai, China; and Singapore. Fifty Firmenich business leaders became internal trainers and taught classes in communications at Firmenich that were attended by more than 150 participants globally
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