Supporting our people

Our operations, activities and our success all rely on the people who work for us. For Nestlé to grow and prosper, we must ensure our employees are engaged, fairly remunerated and given the knowledge and skills to fulfill their potential.

Respect for diversity is one of our fundamental values at Nestlé. With a presence in almost 200 countries around the world, we know that having a diverse and inclusive culture is the foundation of our strength. Nestlé is strongly committed to cultivating and sustaining a diverse and inclusive environment, to shape a better society and future.

Paul Bulcke Nestlé Chairman


An inclusive, inspiring work environment

Nestlé aims to reach out to diverse talent and embrace the different skills, cultures, ways of thinking and experiences that talent brings. We believe this creates an employment experience that:

  • Enhances lives
  • Provides a fulfilling work environment
  • Is people inspired
  • Offers personal and professional growth

Our Gender Balance Acceleration Plan (the Plan) aims to increase the proportion of women in our top 200+ senior executive posts from around 26% at present to 30% by 2022. The Plan contains a series of specific actions:

  • Supporting all managers to foster an inclusive workplace and ensuring that they are trained in unconscious bias.
  • Encouraging the use of Nestlé’s paid parental leave program and flexible work policies in all Nestlé operating companies.
  • Enhancing mentoring and sponsorship programs to prepare high-potential women for senior executive positions.
  • Hiring and promoting more women in senior executive positions.
  • Reviewing results with senior leaders to promote gender balance and ensure progress.
  • Continuing our efforts to champion equal pay and eliminate conditions that create gender pay gaps.
  • Reporting progress in Nestlé’s annual Creating Shared Value and Sustainability Report.

Gender balance is also embedded in all our human resources practices, including recruitment, succession planning and promotion.

Read more about the Nestlé Gender Balance Acceleration Plan.

Advancing women in our industry

We have strengthened our partnership with the Leading Executives Advancing Diversity (LEAD) Network. LEAD is a Europe-wide organization aiming to attract, retain and advance women in the retail and consumer goods industry through education, leadership and business development. All Nestlé employees can now become members of the organization and benefit from LEAD’s opportunities.

We aim to create workplaces where everyone feels included and able to bring their whole selves to work. Each of our markets has a diversity and inclusion action plan designed to create leadership and environments that provide equal opportunities for everyone to contribute, grow and feel valued. Our global diversity and inclusion efforts are centered on four areas: empowering women; race and ethnicity; gender identity and sexual orientation; and disabilities.

Empowering women across our business and beyond

Women globally still experience discrimination in the workplace. Throughout our operations and our value chain, we work to address the many challenges they face. From increasing management and senior representation in our own business to supporting skills development for women in farming communities, we aim to empower women to overcome barriers to fulfilling their potential.

We have been a member of the United Nations Global Compact since 2001. Through our participation, we have adopted the Women’s Empowerment Principles – seven principles to uplift women in the workplace, marketplace and community. During 2020, we partnered with the International Labor Organization (ILO) and the Employers Confederation of the Philippines (ECOP) to develop an In Business Online Soft Skills Training course for women working in Nestlé factories and offices. Launched to address gender disparities and support women who have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, over 300 female Nestlé employees had completed the interactive, activity-based training by the beginning of 2021.

Read about our specific commitments to support women, and our projects and progress.

Promoting racial justice for all

Our global workforce represents approximately 177 nationalities and we want our culture to be one that celebrates and respects this diversity. In January 2021, The World Economic Forum launched the Partnering for Racial Justice in Business initiative. Nestlé is among the 48 founding members who have committed to putting racial and ethnic justice on their board’s agendas and setting long-term strategies to develop anti-racist workplaces.

Throughout 2020, our team in the US stepped up diversity and inclusion efforts, developing an action plan to tackle racial inequity based on employee listening forums and education sessions. Through the new approach, we will target efforts in four areas: drive accountability and leadership; enhance learning and development; engage future talent; and act in our communities. Nestlé South Africa has also made great strides in this area, achieving Level 3 Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment (BBBEE) certification in August 2020.

Read more about how we are taking action on diversity and inclusion.

Proud to celebrate Pride

We are proud to support the United Nations Free & Equal Standards of Conduct for Business on tackling discrimination against LGBT+ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transsexual, +) people.

In recognition of our efforts to create a supportive environment for LGBT+ employees and allies, the Nestlé UK&I LGBT+ Network was included in the 2020 British LGBT Awards’ top 10 networks and employee resource groups. The network of over 200 members was formed in 2016 to provide a space where members of the LGBT+ community are visible and feel valued.

We have also been recognized in Switzerland by the Swiss LGBTI Label for our open, inclusive culture that promotes and supports LGBT+ employees.

Empowering all abilities

We are an equal opportunities employer dedicated to creating a business that encourages people with different abilities. That is why we are a member of the ILO Global Business and Disability Network. Through this employer-led initiative, we are promoting the inclusion of people with disabilities across our global workforce. Ten principles guide our efforts to make Nestlé a more accessible and supportive organization.

Our commitment to put disability inclusion on our business leadership agenda has led to recognition by The Valuable 500. In China, Nestlé has been identified by Beijing Social Security as an outstanding company in supporting disability employment.

Enhancing our parental support

When parents bring their child home for the first time, their lives are changed forever. Families must adjust to a new normal. It is important to be able to take some quality time to bond, rest and recover. Unfortunately, for many reasons, people are not always able to take that time.

At Nestlé, we believe that work should not be one of those reasons. We place a lot of importance on parental leave and good parental support. That is why, at the end of 2019, we launched our Nestlé Global Parental Support Policy. Through the new policy, we have increased leave for new parents, offering primary caregivers 18 weeks’ fully paid leave.

Our new gender-neutral standard also allows secondary caregivers to take at least four weeks’ leave on full pay, where previously there was no global minimum. Because families do not all look the same, we are defining primary and secondary caregivers widely ‒ for example, as either a biological or adoptive parent or a legal guardian. The arrangements are offered to same-sex couples too. As with every Nestlé policy, the new requirements will always respect local legislation.

Highlights of the Nestlé Global Parental Support Policy include:

  • An inclusive, gender-neutral approach, recognizing that parental roles are not defined by gender.
  • A global minimum of six weeks’ postnatal leave that will apply to the more than 268 000 Nestlé employees in our factories, offices and other facilities worldwide.
  • Parental leave for the primary caregiver extended from 14 to 18 weeks on full pay.
  • A global minimum standard of four weeks’ fully paid parental leave for the secondary caregiver, where previously there was no global minimum.
  • Reinforced employment protection, nondiscrimination, health protection, breastfeeding support and availability of flexible working options.
  • Building on Nestlé’s leadership in infant development and our belief that giving a child a strong start gives them the best chance to thrive. The policy also builds on Nestlé’s leadership in infant nutrition and our belief that the first 1000 days of life are crucial for long-term health and development.

The policy launch began in January 2020, depending on local context. It will be implemented in all countries in which we operate by end of December 2022. By the end of 2020, 42% of our countries had already implemented the policy and we had 545 breastfeeding rooms available in our facilities.

Nestlé and I Insights

If we want to engage our employees, we need to listen to them and understand their needs. Previously we held annual Nestlé and I surveys, but in 2019 we designed a new, more accessible feedback mechanism, which was implemented in 2020. Instead of running a coordinated global survey, our markets and businesses can ask for employee feedback at any time during the year. This new format enables us to gather employees’ comments quickly and effectively. As a result, we can focus more time and effort on maximizing actions and decision making. Tools such as Pulse solution, Workplace and Microsoft Forms help facilitate this new, dynamic process.

Living wage

All our employees should receive a wage that covers their needs according to local standards of living. We have worked with nonprofit Business for Social Responsibility (BSR) to assess pay rates globally since 2014. We assess rates every three years.

Where gaps are identified they are swiftly addressed. Exceptions to this include certain joint ventures and some countries where reliable measurement has not been possible due to local civil conflicts or extreme economic conditions, such as hyperinflation. Since the first assessment, we have identified fewer gaps year on year, quickly addressing those that are discovered. In 2020, we saw the completion of the first year of the three-year cycle, conducted in collaboration with BSR, for validation that we pay living wage across the world. No gaps were reported from any of the countries covered by the exercise. All countries have processes embedded in their pay practices to ensure any gaps identified during the assessment are addressed.

We will continue the three-year assessment cycle with these countries in 2021 and beyond to ensure that Nestlé remains a living wage employer globally.

People make the difference at Nestlé. Ensuring our employees are engaged and fairly remunerated and that they have the skills and knowledge not just to perform in their roles but to grow, develop and feel fulfilled is essential for us to prosper as a company. It is one way we bring our values, rooted in respect, to life.

Béatrice Guillaume-Grabisch, Head of Group Human Resources & Business Services

Offering a flexible working life

Across the globe, the COVID-19 pandemic has meant more people than ever before are working from home, including many Nestlé employees. However, the opportunity to work remotely was embedded in our flexible working culture long before the arrival of the pandemic. We know that our employees are looking for ways to balance their work and home lives and we want to offer options that meet a range of needs. From flexible hours to telecommuting and job sharing, we are embedding different work styles into our everyday operations. For our efforts, in 2020 we received Flex Able Certification from WORK180, an organization founded to remove barriers to women in work. 

Engaging with labor rights organizations

At the heart of workers’ rights is the freedom to join trade unions and bargain collectively. We support all our employees to exercise these rights. In addition, we engage in regular dialogue with our employees and union representatives so that matters of mutual concern and interest can be discussed and resolved. We also promote freedom of association throughout our supply chain.

Disputes can arise, but through our policies, principles and values, we aim to ensure they are settled openly and transparently. In 2020, there were 20 labor disputes globally, compared with 68 in 2019. The average percentage of working time lost due to labor disputes, strikes and/or lockouts decreased considerably to 0.0089%.

Internationally, we engage with the International Union of Food, Agricultural, Hotel, Restaurant, Catering, Tobacco and Allied Workers’ Associations (IUF), business organizations and UN-led bodies; regionally, we work with the Nestlé European Council for Information and Consultation; and locally, we work with unions and federations, external experts and other companies. In 2020, we partnered with IUF and the Nestlé European Council for Information and Consultation on our COVID-19 response, developing a management approach that allowed us to anticipate issues and act in an aligned way to support our people. Through our partnership with the Nestlé European Council for Information and Consultation, we produced a Joint Statement including several measures to protect the health and safety of our employees and to ensure business continuity of our operations.

Keeping domestic violence victims and their pets united

When domestic abuse victims find safety in shelters, it often means having to part with their pets. Only 10% of domestic violence shelters accept pets, leaving their owners with an agonizing choice when they most need help. Nearly half of all victims delay escaping abuse as a result.

To change this, Nestlé Purina and RedRover, which helps animals and victims of domestic violence, have created the Purple Leash Project. The project aims to help animals and their owners escape from crisis into care. Purina has committed more than $500 000 (CHF 440 425) to RedRover through to 2022. This will provide funding to enable domestic violence shelters to provide safe spaces for pets alongside their owners.

It is our belief that every employee should have the opportunity to reach their full potential. All our employees, at every level of the organization, are encouraged to continuously develop their knowledge and competencies in a fast-changing world. This process is supported by their line manager, with regular feedback on their performance and aspirations and access to a wide range of development opportunities. Building capabilities is a shared responsibility between employee, line manager and HR.

Supporting our line managers

Nestlé’s continued success as a company depends, in part, on developing the capabilities of our leaders and their teams. Often, the transition into a line managerial role is one of the most difficult to make, particularly throughout the COVID-19 pandemic when so many are working virtually. To support our first-time leaders, we developed a virtual people manager onboarding toolkit. Where possible, this toolkit is supported by in-person training.

We have launched our digital Nestlé People Academy, a ‘one-stop’ shop for information on our company and ways of working. The digital tool is accessible to all employees across our business. During 2020, we also introduced our Development Center globally. This is a live simulation and assessment platform to help leaders inspire and lead effectively in times of change.

At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, we adapted and reinforced our learning leadership portfolio to help smaller groups support their teams to adjust to new and unexpected working conditions. This portfolio was then further expanded to offer other corporate leadership learning programs virtually:

  • The Nestlé Leadership Program, provided to 89 participants 
  • Leading Others, shared with 1188 participants 
  • Leading Managers, offered to 37 participants
  • Leading the Business, attended by 41 participants
  • Executive Leadership, trained 18 participants

Coaching and mentoring

We have evolved our entire coaching and mentoring approach and internal network of 200 coaches to increase the impact of our leadership development efforts. We offer all employees access to an accredited program by the International Coach Federation to help build their individual and team coaching capabilities, and to develop a culture of coaching and self-learning at Nestlé.

Additionally, every employee can request up to eight hours of personal coaching from the internal Nestlé Coaching Network. Various local, regional and global mentoring programs offer the opportunity for our employees to gain up to a year of coaching from internal mentors on a range of topics, including:

  • Talent development and matching
  • Internal knowledge management and innovation
  • Strength-based leadership development

Responding to international dual-career relationships

As a global employer, we offer many opportunities for people to work abroad. In 2011, along with other multinationals, Nestlé became a founding member of the International Dual Career Network (IDCN), an independent nonprofit association that helps dual-career spouses with local job searches and professional integration in a new country. We continue to actively support the organization as a member of its executive board, hosting the IDCN center of expertise meetings, organizing events that support dual-career spouses and leading 3 of its 13 networks. Our local operating companies manage the network in their respective countries.

Nurturing a culture of health

A positive and respectful environment, where employees feel they have support from leaders, can greatly influence engagement and productivity. We assess how these elements can positively offset the impact of pressure and stress.

We have been evaluating our absenteeism rate, which increased slightly from 2.16% in 2019 to 2.3% in 2020. Going beyond that, we also assess our presenteeism which has an even more detrimental effect on productivity. We define presenteeism as the reduced productivity that occurs when employees come to work when unwell, resulting in reduced engagement and performance.

Several webinars led by experts were held in 2020 to enrich health knowledge. Webinars involving 5758 participants took place, and included topics such as health strategy, Know Your Numbers program (KYNP), #HealthyLives, illness reporting, and stress and resilience.

To further improve our efforts in this area, in 2020 we reviewed our Employee Health Strategy, setting out our vision, principles and approach.

Our vision

Inspiring and empowering our people to choose a healthier future for themselves, their families and our business.

Our principles

  • Respecting privacy and personal choices 
  • Enabling informed decision making
  • Ensuring a healthy working environment and working conditions

Our approach

  • Protect our people by anticipating and managing workplace health risks. 
  • Promote health and well-being by offering programs and solutions that encourage our people to adopt an approach of learn, feel and choose.
  • Support our people during and after injuries and/or illnesses, ensuring optimum health outcomes. 
  • Foster an environment where employees experience caring leadership. 

A healthier workplace is a happier, more productive one, so the health of our employees is an important part of living our purpose. The Nestlé Framework for Employee Health supports employee health through three pillars:


Learn helps employees enhance their knowledge and passion for nutrition, health and wellness.


Feel helps employees access information and take action for their own health.


Choose inspires employees to develop and maintain healthy lifestyles.

The Know Your Numbers program (KYNP) is a voluntary initiative designed to support employee understanding of their own health risks. It also enables us to measure the key health risks of our employees and the impacts on productivity. We use this information to build strategic, targeted and evidence-based interventions. The program includes an initial screening (biometrics and a health risk assessment), followed by professional guidance and targeted health support. By the end of 2020, KYNP was available to 87.6% of employees.

Monitoring the health of employees means collecting sensitive and confidential data. It is important that this information remains confidential and there are no issues around privacy. Most companies use an anonymized approach when data is encrypted, but this still means that information could be accessed if the server is breached. This is an unacceptable level of risk for us, and so, for KYNP, our employee health data is stored in two different places and is completely anonymous. Each user creates their own username, which cannot be traced back to an individual. If login details are lost, a completely new profile must be created. We believe this is the best way to collect valuable information while preserving the complete confidentiality of all participants.

#HealthyLives is our global training program to enhance employee awareness around healthy lifestyle changes. Launched in 2019 and available to all employees in English and Spanish, the interactive program covers multiple dimensions of personal health, such as physical activity, sleep, mental health and nutrition. Features include activity days, while a series of 13 short videos and brochures focuses on key risks alongside simple, easy changes to avoid them. Supporting communication materials help further increase awareness, and markets also share best practice.

One module of #HealthyLives is healthy eating, which is also a focus area of the Nestlé Framework for Employee Health. We want to positively impact the diets of our employees and their families by offering locally relevant education on nutrition and hydration and by providing healthy food and drink options at work. In 2020, 97% of our canteens provided a healthy meal option to our employees. 

Poor mental health is one of the three most reported work-related illnesses globally. Emerging trends from KYNP also identify stress as a key risk among employees. Through the Nestlé Guidance on Stress and Resilience, we are progressively developing our Stress and Resilience program, including customized training and tools for different target groups. The program covers all employees, human resource business partners (HRBPs), leaders and senior leaders. The #HealthyLives program includes a full module on mental health and training on stress and resilience. Our hope is that these interventions help employees confidently manage pressures at work and in their private lives, enhancing their personal resilience.

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