Diversity and equal opportunities

GEA operates in a challenging international market environment with a large number of players who influence the company in many different ways – ranging from customers, competitors and employees down to the government and society in general. GEA meets the numerous challenges associated with this extremely diverse cultural environment by adhering to the principle of diversity. GEA considers diversity to be a strategic success factor. In this context, diversity is defined as the composition of the workforce in terms of internationality, gender, age and qualification. 

Overall, GEA employs people from around 70 different nations. The age structure of GEA’s workforce is as follows: 9.9 percent of the employees are younger than 30, 58.5 are aged between 30 and 50 while 31.6 percent exceed the age of 50.

Diversity Management Policy

To institutionalize and manage diversity within the company, the latter relies on a diversity management policy as well as a corresponding guideline for executives: This policy describes the overriding goals and the steady state of diversity management at GEA. The guideline provides managers with an instrument for implementing diversity management at all group levels. It defines diversity on the basis of four personal criteria – origin, gender, age and qualification – as well as two organizational criteria, namely mobility and flexible working. The latter refers to both working time and the workplace. GEA has implemented a mixture of measures designed to promote diversity. For instance, staffing processes place emphasis on including diversity criteria as a standard practice. Despite the sector-specific challenges, GEA seeks to attract more women to join GEA while aiming at including more female talents in the company’s internal career development programs. Moreover, diversity management sets the stage for a reliable identification of high potentials and talents.

Members of govering bodies and employees by gender (in %) 12/31/2017
thereof men thereof women
Supervisory Board 58,3 41,7
Executive Board 80,0 20,0
Managers* 90,8 9,2
Total workforce 83,6 16,4
*) Number of employees in leadership positions, without inactive work relationships. At GEA, the first three management levels below Executive Board level are defined as managers

Advancement of women

For a number of years, the principles of diversity and equal opportunities have been taken into account with a particular emphasis on human resources. In fiscal year 2017, one focus was on the advancement of women, in particular in relation to human resources development.  In general, GEA makes sure that a minimum proportion of female candidates are considered in the selection process when management positions need to be filled. In the year under review, an average of 40 percent of all shortlisted candidates eligible for positions on the management levels below Executive Board level were women. 

Besides, in 2016, the company decided to place more emphasis on promoting women in leadership positions going forward. For this reason, a specific program for female high potentials and executives that started in February 2017 with 27 international participants was developed. The program is aimed at allowing candidates to evaluate themselves, further develop their personalities and specifically plan the next steps in their careers. The pilot program will continue until March 2018. 

German Remuneration Transparency Act

The German Remuneration Transparency Act that took effect in 2017 seeks to increase transparency in comparing the wages and salaries of men and women performing the same work or work of equal value while avoiding gender pay gaps in the long run. GEA is convinced that gender is irrelevant to the establishment of remuneration levels that are in line with both the market and an individual’s performance. The company takes the view that greater transparency may instill additional trust in a legally sound and responsible pay scheme in both employees and job candidates. In turn, this may increase staff retention, increase industrial peace and reduce staff turnover levels. The implementation of this individual right to information enshrined in the law takes place in consultation with the respective employee representative body.

Leadership development

Since mid-2016, GEA managers have been included and assessed within the framework of a unified global, cross-functional and connected OneGEA talent identification process designed to help meet the company’s current and future demand for managers. Together with Human Resources, the respective managers conduct so-called “talent days – leadership pipeline reviews” during which they assess the potential and performance of individual candidates and draw up succession plans. This global process aims at identifying the capabilities and skills of GEA’s top performers for the purpose of efficiently further developing them to meet the current and future demands of the organization. This is how GEA seeks to contribute to the future success of the group.

GEA promotes young talents and executives by offering various programs. Talent development schemes like the “First Professional Program” serve the purpose of identifying and developing employees with leadership potential. Furthermore, GEA is a member of the Global Business Consortium of the London Business School together with five other renowned international enterprises. The program is open to top managers and aims at enhancing their strategic skills. 

In addition, GEA offers training for experienced managers. Such courses include “Leading Others”, “Leading Leaders” and “Engaging Employees” that focus on strengthening leadership skills. Apart from that, the “Leading Virtual Teams” module was added in 2017. Furthermore, all managers may avail themselves of a wide range of e-learning opportunities.

Work-life balance

GEA Group Aktiengesellschaft explicitly endorses a better reconciliation of work and family life and supports its employees in many different ways. For instance, some sites have experienced go-to persons for expectant mothers and fathers while offering a sponsorship program for employees on parental leave, corporate child care or flexible working arrangements. A large number of employees make use of alternating telework, part-time work as well as trust-based working hours. 

In 2017, 1.5 percent of the German workforce took advantage of parental leave, 65.5 percent of them being fathers with 34.5 percent mothers. Apart from that, GEA cooperates with an international external service provider to support employees in their search for suitable facilities that provide childcare and/or look after dependents in need of care. In addition, this offering includes free social counseling.

Learning and continuous education

Since 2015, employees worldwide may avail themselves of GEA’s Learning Center, a central learning and training platform. The latter offers management, sales and project management training as well as GEA product and user training courses; in 2017, further training modules were added. Additional e-learning programs on technical, business and product-related topics are available. These programs are open to all GEA employees and may be attended anywhere irrespective of a person’s location. They aim at supporting employees in their individual and occupational development. In the year under review, an overall number of 7,925 employees, i.e. 44.4 percent of GEA’s entire workforce, made use of the learning and training opportunities offered by the company. 1,337 participants attended face-to-face training, 987 participated in integrated training initiatives while 2,007 attended trainer-hosted webinars. E-learning seminars attracted 11,559 participants, a large number of whom had enrolled in a compliance training initiative of the company. The average time per employee invested in taking part in a face-to-face training module was 3.2 days of learning.

Company pension schemes

GEA offers its employees participation in individual pension schemes. Together with the company, each employee may play an active role in shaping his or her future pension. Supporting company pension schemes allows GEA to respond to demographic change while retaining qualified staff in the long run. GEA strives to continuously optimize existing administrative processes as well as global pension-related services structures to enhance both the transparency and the economic efficiency of such pension schemes. In doing so, the company never fails to ensure that the pension schemes fully comply with any and all legal and regulatory requirements.

Employee mobility

To meet market requirements and safeguard the sustained, long-term competitiveness of the company, it is increasingly imperative that the knowhow and expertise of GEA’s employees are available on a global level. For this reason, GEA established a central competence center for international employee mobility as early as 2014. This does not only ensure professionalism when it comes to the legally correct implementation of global contractual standards, but also enhances the level of efficiency in terms of the operational realization of international work assignments. The activities undertaken by the competence center guarantee the equal treatment of all internationally mobile employees.

Disaster relief for employees

In the wake of the hurricanes in North America, the company set up its “Emergency Response Team“ (ERT) in the year under review. This team identifies, accompanies and supports employees that are exposed to a high risk at their particular location, offering assistance to those who are particularly affected by such natural disasters. For instance, 2017 saw the launch of a donation campaign that collected approximately USD 15,000 in emergency aid from co-workers. GEA topped up this amount by donating the equivalent sum.

GEA Aid Commission

GEA supports its employees in need in many different ways. In a works agreement concluded with the Group Works Council, GEA has pledged to grant swift and unbureaucratic financial assistance to individuals in distress, for instance in the event of accidents or sudden, severe illness. Under such circumstances, affected employees, including their families, may turn to the GEA Aid Commission for help.