Responsible Employer

Responsible Employer

GRI 401-1,2; GRI 102-8

Oerlikon has established global HR goals for increased efficiency and process harmonization along with culture enhancements that strengthen Oerlikon’s position as an employer of choice for top talent. Furthermore, we are evaluating steps to strengthen our technological support, digital workspaces and online mechanisms for enabling personal growth and addressing employee concerns. Our program of continued improvement extends to achieving diversity targets for 2030 and beyond see social targets here.

COVID-19 and Employee Safety & Wellbeing

The impact of COVID-19 has underlined how important it is for Oerlikon to remain focused on our long-term vision — creating a safe and engaging workplace for the employees we rely on to help us realize our business mission.

Our dual challenge was to ensure the safety and wellbeing of employees, while at the same time
minimizing any disruption in the provision of services to customers. We immediately adopted safety guidelines and protective measures such as disinfecting offices and workplaces and distributing reusable masks to all employees.

With lockdowns having been implemented in varying degrees since spring 2020, many office-based employees have worked from home. On-site, Oerlikon has mandated safe distancing and mask use, and pioneered the use of SafeTags, safe-distance- enabling devices from Kinexon, a Munichbased start-up. Details about these devices can be found in the Occupational Health & Safety section of this report.

In 2020, the use of digital and mobile technologies increased significantly as we converted many learning programs from in-person to virtual. We also accelerated the introduction of other planned digital initiatives, such as video interview software to support and transform recruiting processes.

A Fair & Attractive Employer for a Global Workforce

Oerlikon’s global workforce numbered 10 692 fulltime equivalents (FTEs) at the end of 2020, with 58% based in Europe, followed by Asia Pacific (27%), North America (12%) and the rest of the world (3%). In 2020, Oerlikon’s global workforce (FTEs) decreased slightly by 4% due to normal employee attrition and restructuring measures in response to pandemic-driven market weakness. As an equal opportunity employer, Oerlikon offers attractive compensation and benefit packages toall employees, including temporary or part-time employees and interns, in compliance with local labor laws and practices. Parental leave is also part of the employment package according to local labor regulations and practices.

Employee Engagement and Experience

Employee insights are invaluable in shaping HR strategy development. In 2019, we conducted a second global engagement survey in 23 languages, encompassing all Oerlikon sites.

The survey highlighted notable improvements in employee perceptions of direct line manager support, agility and innovation. This contributed directly to our success in exceeding the manufacturing benchmark for innovation performance and in enhancing employee experience and improving the work environment.

To enrich employee experiences from the time of hiring, we refined an employee-driven, bottom-up process used for recruiting, onboarding, promotion and offboarding. This improved and modernized the contact experience, transparency and trust. Where feasible, we integrated technologies such as virtual team introductions to speed up onboarding and to deliver consistently high-quality employee support. Our timetable for rolling out these updated processes worldwide runs for 15 months from October 2020.

The engagement survey responses highlighted the importance of building trust and improving clarity and communications within the company. We responded by launching a project to build a common understanding of our culture, energize employees and promote desired behaviors.

This project revisits our values and serves as a baseline for developing clear, outcome-driven statements to increase engagement. The first outputs will be tested in 2021, and statements will be embedded in processes later in the year to help improve employees’ understanding of the corporate values and their part in contributing to them.

Engaging via Virtual Townhalls

As videoconferencing became essential for both personal and business interactions, we organized virtual townhalls divided into equal time slots for a presentation by management and an interactive question-and-answer session.

An easy-to-use digital Q&A app allowed employees to submit questions and vote on them, by name or anonymously. The voting determined the priority of the questions in the queue before and during the virtual townhall.

A survey of the townhalls revealed that employee felt positive about the experience, appreciated that the sessions kept them abreast of company news and that they were given an opportunity for open two-way communication. Employees said that, compared to paper or email communication, this format left them feeling more involved and better informed about strategic decisions as they were made.

Given that feedback, Oerlikon recognizes virtual tools as another channel for keeping employees informed, engaged and invested in the company’s mission and strategies.

“Beruf und Familie” Pilot

The Manmade Fibers Division took advantage of the workandfamily program, which was originally initiated by the nonprofit Hertie foundation and is now under the umbrella of the German Federal Minister for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth.

The Division hosted voluntary workshops that brought employees together with representatives from the workers council and the company to address issues related to working remotely, employee development and the physical workplace. The Division has passed the jobandfamily audit and is now working on further improvements.

Talent Acquisition

In keeping with our increased engagement via online channels, in 2020, we assessed the value that job application and employee websites such as Glassdoor and Indeed can add to our existing recruiting infrastructure. The return on this initial outreach is noteworthy, particularly in the areas of online employer brand visibility and increased quality of applicants. In the 15-month time frame of selected pilots, our candidate engagement increased by 65% in terms of page visits. By the end of 2020, 45% of all applications were sourced online, which means we have enlarged the candidate pool from which we can select future candidates. These online tools also enable us to accelerate the applicant review and hiring process.

Furthermore, our employee referral programs offer recognition and rewards to employees who refer successful candidates. Beyond these internal resources, we also look to our network of customers and suppliers for referrals of promising candidates.

Training and education
GRI 404 1,2,3

Employee Training and Development

As a global leader in delivering value-adding technologies, products and services, we recognize that skills enhancement and professional development programs are as essential to our market success as they are to our employees’ ambitions. Oerlikon’s employee training and development programs include in-person and online learning and career development options, such as workshops and courses designed to upgrade existing skills and sessions that provide transition assistance.

Assessment of the impact of this training is incorporated into employees’ performance and career development reviews, which are conducted at least twice a year.

To complement virtual training, we looked into new digital learning opportunities and pilots of platforms such as Udemy to offer employees the chance to learn safely from any location, on any device and at any time without incurring any COVID-related health risks. These platforms also allow us to integrate individual or group learning paths along with company and external content to optimize relevance. In 2021, we intend to widen the distribution of these digital platforms within Oerlikon to continue enabling employee growth.


To cultivate our relationship with young professionals and the next generation of talent, Oerlikon works in cooperation with more than 30 schools, colleges and universities worldwide to offer handson, intensive apprenticeships and internships to emerging innovators. Oerlikon Balzers, for example, has earned particular recognition in the field of offering apprenticeships that cover 11 professions.

At the 2020 apprenticeship graduation ceremony at Oerlikon Balzers, a total of 14 apprentices from seven different apprenticeship occupations received their certificates. Among them was Larina Beck, the 1 500th apprentice to receive her education at Oerlikon. More and more young women are now enthusiastic about training in technical apprenticeships. The average female participation has been around 15%, and the trend is rising.

High-Potential Talent Program: Horizons

Internally, Oerlikon has its own career accelerator program in place: Horizons, a global initiative launched in 2018 and designed to develop the next generation of leaders. Horizons gives candidates the opportunity for personal development and career advancement within Oerlikon.

The first 37 graduates completed the high-potential talent program in December 2019. During the 18-month program, we worked with this class to develop leadership and business skills, create visibility at senior levels, build networks and offer career path assistance. More than half of the employees from the program have been promoted or received additional job responsibilities, and all have benefited from personal career planning.

Based on the success of the first wave and despite the pandemic, we launched a safety-conscious second wave in September 2020 with 25 employees, who were selected for their high potential. The kickoff events and exercises were a mix of face-toface sessions in Europe, with colleagues from Asia and the Americas dialing in. Highly interactive and carefully planned sessions ensured 100% participation despite the physical distance and time zone differences.

The Manmade Fibers Division also runs a program for individuals with high potential. The third wave of this program started in 2018. So far, more than 70 employees with high potential are engaged in development activities that prepare them to assume or enlarge their leadership positions and contribute to developing the culture at Oerlikon. This program also served as a pipeline to identify talents for the Horizons program. In 2020, the Division also launched a local development program with 60 participants from Germany, China, the US and India to foster individual development and a culture of cooperation.

R&D Career Track

Working with experts, we created a prototype career path within R&D in recognition of its essential role at Oerlikon. The R&D Career Track was piloted at Oerlikon Balzers to increase recognition and career development opportunities within R&D and to strengthen our R&D succession pipeline and talent retention. Over the past year, we have built three distinct career tracks across 12 R&D roles.

The Online Career Navigator provides an online channel for development planning and went live in 2020 with new leadership and functional programs. These projects are intended to provide employees with clarity and transparency on available R&D roles and next career steps.

Diversity and equal opportunity
GRI 405-1

Cultivating and Celebrating Diversity at Oerlikon

Given the fact that diversity is an engine for our continued success, we recognize the importance of cultivating a work environment that celebrates what unites us as a team and what sets each of us apart as individuals. We are committed to ongoing enhancement of our workplace and to ensuring that all our employees feel engaged, heard, respected, valued and accepted on their own terms.

FT Diversity Leader 2021

In November 2020, The Financial Times published its Diversity Leaders 2021 report, listing the top 850 companies with the highest total scores. Oerlikon is honored to be ranked at 162.

This ranking resulted from surveys conducted by the independent market research company Statista between April and August 2020. Corporations from all industry sectors employing at least 250 people in 16 countries – Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom – were eligible. In total, over 300 000 evaluations formed the basis for identifying the Diversity Leaders.

Survey participants were asked to rate their employers on a scale from 0 to 10 on how well the company promotes diversity in general and with regard to age, gender, ethnicity, disability and sexual orientation. Answers were weighted significantly higher for respondents who were women, older workers or ethnic minorities than answers from members of majority groups.

It is particularly meaningful to us that Oerlikon’s place on this list reflects our employees’ evaluations of our diversity programs and policies. In the following paragraphs, we provide an overview of our perspective on diversity as a corporate value and details of the initiatives we have undertaken or plan to launch to further strengthen our record as an employer that practices inclusion and stands firmly against discrimination.

Cultural Diversity
GRI 202-2

With 93 nationalities represented by our global workforce across Europe, Asia and the Americas, Oerlikon not only welcomes but is dependent upon multiculturalism. We see a clear and vital connection between our internal diversity and the strength of our market position, as well as our ability to lead in the development of sustainable innovation. These performance metrics require a commitment to sustaining mutually rewarding and respectful employee relationships. Oerlikon’s employees are the backbone of our history of invention, but - equally important - they are the soul of our values and culture. The diversity of their backgrounds, experiences and areas of expertise endow Oerlikon with a depth and breadth of perspective that is global in every sense of the word. At present, the majority (88%) of our designated Global Leaders are European, and we are actively seeking increased geographical diversity so that employees at the management level more closely reflect our global market presence.

Gender and Sexual Diversity

Within this diversity metric, we have committed to strengthening representation of diversity at the Board and top management levels. In 2020, two out of seven members of the Board of Directors are women, while one out of four members of the Executive Committee is female. During 2020, Oerlikon’s global workforce (FTEs) decreased slightly by 4% to 10 692, of which 21% is female.

Achieving gender balance is challenging given the predominance of men in engineering. Our overall workforce is predominantly male (79%), and among the Global Leaders, 13% are women. We are progressing in this area and are confident that having more women in leadership positions will encourage more women to consider working at Oerlikon. Similarly, we trust that existing female employees will view our progress as a positive sign about their own prospects for growth and advancement at the company and welcome the additional women in leadership as role models.

Our diversity policies extend to all employees and candidates regardless of gender identity or sexual
orientation. Employees are under no obligation to reveal these details of their lives, so we do not track this element of diversity statistically. All employees are welcome to be open about their spouses or partners and families and are respected in their requests regarding use of personal pronouns in oral and written communications.

Oerlikon is also fully supportive of candidates and employees who require special workstation or other accommodations because of illness or physical impairments.

Age Diversity

There is no generation gap at Oerlikon, where employees across a spectrum of years in the business collaborate, cooperate and support one another. We value this idea of established experience and fresh perspectives working in concert.

In 2020, more than 15% of our workforce is 30 or younger, 56% are between the ages of 30 to 50 and more than 28% are over 50 years of age. Nearly 52% of new hires in 2020 were under 35. Among our designated Global Leaders, 25% are 45 or younger.

At the same time, we take pride in the fact that around 1 500 members of our team have been Oerlikon employees for more than 20 years — a fact that demonstrates the value we place on long-established talent and the long-term opportunity we offer to employees. The average employee tenure at Oerlikon is nine years — notably longer than the industry average. Together, our people have a remarkable capacity for building on our traditions and, at the same time, challenging established thinking and forging new paths forward.

Leadership and Succession

In 2020, Oerlikon continued to manage and mitigate any risks that could arise when Global Leaders, who are the top management of the Group, leave the company. In tandem with this, we furthered the evolution of our succession planning and stabilization of our pipelines. In 2020, we exceeded our target of a 50/50 mix of new hires from outside sources versus internal promotions and achieved a rate of 60% of internal moves to senior Global Leader roles. Similarly, in 2020 we increased the proportion of Global Leader appointments among employees under 45, who now account for one-quarter of those positions, versus less than one-fifth one year ago. This, in turn, created a domino effect for more promotions within the business lines, which resulted in more internal candidates experiencing a positive shift in their career goals.

Labor management relations
GRI 402-1

Oerlikon respects the legal rights of its employees to join or to refrain from joining worker organizations,
including labor organizations or trade unions. Oerlikon complies with applicable local laws worldwide regarding employee and thirdparty involvement, and will not discriminate based on an employee’s decision to join or not join a labor organization.

Oerlikon respects the rights of employees to organize and makes managers at all levels aware of those rights. The company’s long-standing belief is that the interests of Oerlikon and its employees are best served through a favorable, collaborative work environment with direct communication between employees and management. Oerlikon endeavors to establish these kinds of favorable employment conditions, to promote positive relationships between employees and managers, to facilitate employee communications, and to support employee development.



Thomas Schmidt

Head of Group Communications