People engagement and development

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Reporting period

The Sustainability section includes information from the combined entity for 12 months (DSM and Firmenich are reported as of 1 January 2023). The sustainability data in this Report cover all entities that belong to the scope of the Consolidated financial statements. If this is not the case this is mentioned specifically. As this is the first year of reporting for dsm-firmenich, no comparative data is available for 2022. For more information, see Sustainability statements.

Employee engagement

Our Pulse Survey also provided us with additional insights on how people felt, how they experienced our integration and how we could improve the process for them. Almost 17,000 people (59%) responded.

They told us they were proud (83%), engaged (82%), and experienced many positive emotions toward our merger. Through their comments, people expressed excitement about the future of dsm-firmenich, hope toward the products we can develop together and curiosity to get to know each other. On top of that, they told us that they believe in our company purpose and values. Eighty-five percent of respondents consequently said they intended to stay with our company for the next 12 months.

At the same time, 22% of respondents expressed feelings of uncertainty. We saw a need to increase the change support to our managers (59%), build trust (70%) and raise value awareness (77%).

In total, over 130 plans were established within our countries to improve our results. The actions we took ranged from local town halls to communicating transparently about our challenges as a company. A follow up survey was planned for January 2024 to evaluate the outcomes of these actions.

People development

With the creation of dsm-firmenich, we are building on our existing people development practices and shaping them more broadly for the integrated organization. Before the merger, each legacy company created various learning opportunities.

For both legacy companies, extensive learning content remained available throughout the entire year, also post-merger. In 2023, dsm-firmenich employees spent on average eight hours on learning.

In total, more than 220,000 learning hours were recorded, including more than 170,000 hours of digital learning and more than 16,000 hours of classroom training.

Continuing an earlier initiative of planting trees in ratio to the number of hours our employees spent on development digital learning, 11,750 trees will be added to the existing forests.

planting trees (graphic)
Approximately 11,750 trees will be added to our existing forest of 14,000 trees, bringing our total to roughly 25,750  trees. With this initiative we reforested over 20 hectares and sequestered close to 4000 tons CO2

Leadership and leadership development

We provided our leaders with a platform called ‘The Leadership Connection’, where we host carefully curated resources, tools, and knowledge-sharing platforms to empower our leaders to excel. Several development tools were made available post-merger to support the development of our leaders including Gallup Clifton Strengths and Coach Hub:

  • Gallup Clifton Strengths – to help individuals and teams identify, understand, and optimize their unique strengths
  • Coach Hub – an online coaching platform that supports individual development through a wide range of topics including leadership skills, career development, personal growth and more

We also merged our partnership with IMD School for Business Management Development (Switzerland) across both legacy organizations and continued to offer nominated talents the opportunity to participate in IMD leadership, strategy, digital transformation & innovation and/or operations development programs.

In addition to joint dsm-firmenich leadership development offerings, in 2023 former DSM continued to host leadership development programs, with a total of 15 run across regions in addition to the Bright Mentoring Program. In former Firmenich, we continued with the deployment of the ‘Engage People During Change’ leadership development initiative as well as ‘A Step Forward’, an internal women acceleration program which encompasses mentoring, external coaching, and community events.

Performance management process

To move toward consistency for dsm-firmenich, we aligned the key principles and timelines for performance management in 2023. This enabled HR to provide a consistent level of communication and support for both People Managers and employees. It also ensured that 100% of employees who were eligible to do so, were able to discuss their performance during the transition to one company process for 2024. Non-eligible employees included those who are on a prolonged leave of absence (e.g., maternity or sick leave), or newcomers.

Performance discussions remain the foundation to ensure we reach our collective goals and empower personal development for our employees. A completely aligned performance management process will be launched for the 2024 cycle.


One of our key focus areas for the year was to introduce a Short-Term Incentive (STI) framework for the transition year 2023. This framework provides one global and standardized approach, linking STI to the achievement of company objectives. This means employees eligible for STI will be rewarded based on the same dsm-firmenich objectives for the transition year 2023. Similarly, a new common Long-Term Incentive (LTI) plan was introduced in 2023.

On Day 1, all employees received a certificate symbolizing ownership of one share in dsm-firmenich, which will result in a cash settlement through payroll on the first anniversary of the merger.

Another focus was developing our new reward strategy, which will be the foundation for our new, unified reward policies and practices. This strategy sets out what our rewards aim to do: contribute to optimal well-being by combining the essential, the desirable and the sustainable – the dsm-firmenich needs, wants and musts. We reward progress in innovation, growth and achieving winning outcomes together.

We will start implementing our new rewards policies and practices on a country-by-country basis during 2024.

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

At dsm-firmenich, being a force for good is not optional. Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DE&I) is a shared responsibility woven into our daily work to not only benefit our people, customers and communities but to also drive business value.

Equal access to opportunities is a given, belonging is a shared feeling, authenticity is celebrated. Our DE&I strategy focuses on three pillars:

Three pillars of DEI strategy (graphic)

We believe a diverse Global Management Team (GMT, consisting of approximately 400 leaders) is an essential component of business success that deepens our understanding of our global customer base and workforce, and allows us to attract, retain and develop top global talent. In September 2023, we conducted a voluntary self-identification survey among our GMT in line with data privacy rules in the countries of employment. 35% of respondents self-identified as female or non-binary and 40% as ethnically diverse leaders (non-European).

To further promote Gender and Ethnic Diversity within our GMT, the dsm-firmenich Long-term Incentive Plan contains a Diversity Key Performance Indicator (KPI). For more information, see the Compensation report 2023. We have set the targets to reach 36% female or non-binary colleagues, 41% of ethnically diverse leaders (non-European) in our GMT at the end of 2025.

We aim to achieve a gender-balanced organization across all levels. Today, 10,811 women work at dsm-firmenich. The dsm-firmenich Board of Directors consists of 12 Members, representing eight nationalities, with 33% being female and 67% male. In addition, three out of nine Executive Committee Members are women.

In February 2023, we resecured our Global EDGE certification for former Firmenich for gender equality to the MOVE level for the second time in a row and reached EDGE ‘LEAD’ certification, the highest obtainable level of certification, for our efforts on diversity, equity and inclusion in Brazil and Mexico, meeting every single standard across the four pillars of EDGE’s rigorous assessment: Gender representation, Pay equity, Effectiveness of policies & practices as well as the inclusiveness of the culture. Additionally, Firmenich USA was awarded ‘EDGE Plus’ for their commitment and effective policies to eliminate ethnic pay inequality. In 2024, we will run an integrated exercise on pay equity as part of our commitment on fair and equitable gender pay across the organization. For certain countries, this exercise also addressed ethnicity, and where possible, will be continued.

Our newly developed DE&I governance model is a structured framework with clear roles and responsibilities to drive sustainable change, ensuring that our commitments translate into meaningful actions.

We are proud of our five Employee Resources Groups encompassing generations; gender; race, ethnicity and nationalities; people with diverse abilities; and LGBTIQ+ communities. Through global, regional and local activism and events, they actively contribute to community building and create an inclusive work environment that fosters engagement among colleagues with shared backgrounds or interests.

For example, in June, we celebrated Pride Month with our colleagues, fostering meaningful discussions and educational webinars to explore strategies for promoting inclusivity within our LGBTIQ+ community.

Collage of people with rainbow flags (photo)

In November, we celebrated International Day for Tolerance with a week of activities, sponsored by our CEO, focused on advancing diversity in race, ethnicity, and nationality (REN) as we support a culturally diverse global landscape.

List of speakers and panelists (photo)

In our Consumer Insights & Sensory teams, we have integrated Visually Impaired Panelists into our sensory teams in six different affiliates (five different countries) for nearly a decade, contributing to our teams in P&B, TTH, and Science & Research (S&R).

Our 36 Visually Impaired Panelists’ sensory abilities bring invaluable insights that enrich our consumer research, demonstrating that diversity is a competitive advantage and how inclusivity fuels excellence.

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