DSM Integrated Annual Report 2021

Inclusion & diversity

In 2021, we continued our efforts to ensure that all our people feel included and cared for. Fostering and maintaining an inclusive and diverse workplace is key to helping our employees offer their best, most authentic contribution, and is a prerequisite for delivering on our ambitions and accelerating our strategic transformation. We accelerated progress on our five diversity pillars — Gender, Race, Ethnicity & National Identity, LGBTQ+, Disability and Generations – by identifying three focus areas in which to apply our efforts: recruitment, development, and inclusion.















Inclusion index1














Internationalization & diversity







Female executives


25% by 2021





Under-represented nationalities


35% by 2021






All data presented in People are subject to the Non-financial reporting policy.

Inclusion & Diversity strategy (graphic)

I&D Governance Framework

DSM’s Governance framework for Inclusion & Diversity ensures strong ownership and steering on the part of executive and senior leadership, with operational responsibility shared between the business and regions.

In 2021, we further embedded the framework with our Co-CEOs sharing the Chair for the I&D Council, and each Executive Committee member taking active sponsorship of one of the five pillars (depicted above). The direction of our I&D strategy, along with our commitments, were discussed and agreed at the Executive Committee.

Our Inclusion & Diversity Council – which provides input to I&D strategy and drives program activation — is composed of Regional Presidents, business leaders and Employee Resource Group leads. Additionally, each region has a nominated I&D Lead to drive and coordinate locally relevant activities, with support from the corporate I&D team.

The focus areas for I&D: Recruitment, development and inclusion

A wide range of initiatives was undertaken within these three focus areas by our global Inclusion & Diversity (I&D) team, in close collaboration with regional teams and Employee Resource Groups. These initiatives aim to diversify our current and future talent pools, improve development opportunities for underrepresented groups, and ensure a psychologically safe and inclusive working environment where all our colleagues can be their authentic selves. Our efforts are reflected in the increase of our inclusion score (+2%), which is even more evident in our regions such as China (+5%) and Latin America (+4%).

Expanding our I&D network

Since the launch of the new I&D strategy in 2020, our I&D network has expanded significantly through active Employee Resource Groups and regional I&D teams. The numerous initiatives and events of this network contribute to positive increases in inclusion scores. Examples of such initiatives include:

  • I&D forums on gender, generation and LGBTQ+ in China
  • Launch of a cross-organizational I&D working group in collaboration with the Dutch Embassy in Japan
  • Implementation of women-enabling policies in India
  • DSM Netherlands signed the Sociaal Economische Raad (SER) Diversity Charter
  • Launch of a ‘Just About Inclusion’ initiative in Switzerland
  • The development of a mentoring and sponsorship program for Black and African-American employees in North America
  • The development of a joint commitment to I&D with a network of suppliers in Latin America

Our performance on our I&D targets

In 2021, we realized a 2% increase in the percentage of executive women, from 21% to 23%, reflecting changes implemented in our talent acquisition and recruitment processes, which included 50:50 gender-diverse shortlists and unconscious bias awareness sessions for recruiters. We increased our percentage of under-represented executives from 30% to 31%. Despite this, we underperformed against our 2021 targets for female (25%) and under-represented groups (35%) at executive levels. Several factors influenced this outcome, including the divestment of Resins & Functional Materials and associated businesses, competition for high-profile candidates in a buoyant market, and the impact of ongoing DSM transformation initiatives.

With the current targets expiring in 2021, our global I&D team worked closely with stakeholders to agree new ambitious I&D commitments for the period 2022–2025. These include:

  • 30% of our executives to be female by 2025
  • 40% of our executives to be from currently under-represented nationalities by 2025
  • Global business and functional Leadership Teams to be a minimum 30% diverse by gender and nationalities by 2025

In addition and in line with our broader commitments to the five pillars of I&D, the regions will take ownership for achieving progress via locally-relevant programs, following our overall focus on recruitment, development and inclusion. Regional I&D surveys, supported by the corporate team, were delivered in 2021, providing not only useful baseline data for identifying priorities, but also offering employees the opportunity to self-identify on demographics that we cannot track globally. This type of diversity data is collected and managed following all data privacy and GDPR guidelines, securing employees’ anonymity.

On the basis of this insight, and local factors, regions are initiating programs such as improving access to employment for people with disabilities, ensuring equality in policies and benefits for LGBTQ+ colleagues, and awareness and education initiatives.

Finally, we will continue to invest in creating a culture where diversity thrives. In 2022 we launch a new inclusion program, Brighter Together 2.0, for all teams. Ultimately DSM commits to workplaces where business goals are achieved with respect for people’s dignity and their human rights.