Corporate Social Responsibility at Sonova

Investment in people

At Sonova, we foster a spirit in which shared engagement and personal responsibility are the driving forces for innovation. Inspired employees are our life-blood: with high agility and in self-dependent teams we work towards enhancing the quality of life of millions by bringing better hearing to people with hearing loss.

Our employees are key to our success

At Sonova, our employees contribute to something greater than themselves – they transform lives. We work to enhance the quality of life for millions of people by bringing better hearing to those with hearing loss. Our shared corporate values – innovation, engagement, and responsibility – shape the culture that defines and unites us as a company across all brands and regions.

Global trends such as demographic changes, a limited availability of specialist talent, and the need to adapt quickly to shifting markets highlight the importance of a proactive staffing strategy for Sonova. We strongly believe that developing talent with the goal of ensuring internal succession is vital to sustainable success. Appointing internally to key positions while retaining and developing skilled employees helps to ensure that Sonova’s specialist knowledge and intellectual property remain within the company, sustaining our competitive advantage. In 2017, we were able to fill 53% of our open leadership positions with Sonova employees, thereby reaching our long-term target.

Striving for engaged employees

Sonova prides itself on offering meaningful, interesting work, a transformational leadership style, and a feedback-oriented culture. By regularly reviewing the competencies, performance, potential, and career plans of our employees, we invest in the development of  each individual’s strengths. A fully integrated global talent management system supports all our activities through the complete career path. Our professional leadership culture, conscientious treatment of our workforce, and proactive approach to employee retention over the past years have combined to reduce our global employee turnover to the very low level of 11.9%.

Leadership is a critical factor for sustainable business success; we have therefore established a comprehensive leadership program. Through intensive feedback, coaching, and exercises we challenge our managers to become even more effective at leading and developing their employees, their teams, and their organizations.

Employees by region

 (full time equivalent) 2017/18 2016/17 2015/16
Switzerland 1,219 1,178 1,200
EMEA (excl. Switzerland) 6,471 6,399 3,452
Americas 3,539 3,538 3,622
Asia/Pacifics 3,013 2,974 2,620
Total 14,242 14,089 10,894


Ratio: Women in leadership positions

 (as a percentage of manager headcount) 2017/18 2016/17 2015/16
Switzerland 21.0 21.0 21.6
EMEA (excl. Switzerland) 53.0 50.6 37.4
Americas 45.0 45.0 45.0
Asia/Pacifics 49.0 48.8 47.1
Total 48.0 46.0 39.0

Employee turnover rates

(in percent of FTE) 2017/18 2016/17 2015/16
Switzerland 8.5 7.5 10.3
EMEA (excl. Switzerland) 7.6 6.2 7.2
Americas 18.4 18.0 19.1
Asia/Pacifics 10.8 9.0 9.0
Total 11.9 10.8 11.9


Occupational health & safety

Sonova has established an effective occupational health and safety culture that supports and protects our employees. We regularly monitor and analyze the potential health and safety risks of our operations and implement both legally-required and voluntary occupational health and safety programs. Sonova’s operations have a relatively low exposure to health and safety risk, but we are committed to continuous improvement here as elsewhere. We therefore investigate each incident to determine its cause and take steps to prevent any reoccurrence.


Injury and Lost Day Rate

Unit 2017/18 2016/17 2015/16
Injury rate (IR) 0.44 0.44


Lost day rate (LDR)




IR = the injury rate equals the total number of injuries / total hours worked x 200,000
LDR = the lost day rate equals the total number of lost days / total hours worked x 200,000

The injury and lost day rate cover data from the Sonova headquarters in Stäfa and the manufacturing sites in China and Vietnam.

Diversity and inclusion

Sonova is currently present in over 100 countries around the globe and has a workforce of over 14,000 dedicated employees with a broad mix of experiences and backgrounds. We consider this diversity to be key to our success, since it represents our global customer base and fosters innovation. All facets of diversity are important to us; we strive to create an inclusive environment where everyone – regardless of age, gender, language, ethnic origin, religion, culture, sexual orientation, or health status – can contribute and realize their full potential. Our commitment to diversity is recorded in our Code of Conduct and is binding for all our employees.

As the world’s largest hearing care provider, Sonova campaigns for equal opportunities and a better quality of life for people with hearing loss. It is our vision to create a world where everyone enjoys the delight of hearing and lives a life without limitations. By offering the most comprehensive range of solutions to treat all major forms of hearing loss, we aim for our customers to feel fully included in society. To help us reach this challenging goal, our workforce and work culture need to reflect the values of diversity and inclusion.

Building a diverse workforce 

We realize that one of the most effective ways to understand and meet the needs and desires of our diverse customers is to have a workforce that reflects this diversity. We therefore make it a priority to recruit a wide range of people who share our passion and bring in new skills and experiences. To guarantee a balanced mix, we have a special focus on recruiting and promoting women and employees from different cultures in leadership and executive positions.

We actively support the compatibility of having a career and a family by promoting flexible working models for both men and women, such as home office, flexible working hours, and part time work in leadership positions. Since April 2017, new terms of employment guarantee our employees in Switzerland a number of additional family related benefits, including 16 weeks of maternity leave, two weeks of paternity leave, and the possibility to purchase additional vacations. In all our production sites, where shift work is standard, employees returning from maternity leave can choose to work at between 50% and 100% of their previous level during their first year back. We operate our own day care center at our headquarters in Stäfa and financially support lower-salary employees in Stäfa and in our production center in Vietnam to help pay for day care. Thanks to various family policy measures and a commitment to promote equal opportunities, we are pleased to report that women now fill 48% of our leadership positions.

Sonova also provides reasonable accommodation in its job application procedures for qualified individuals with disabilities, or to enable otherwise qualified individuals with disabilities to perform essential job functions.

Advancing our culture of inclusion and innovation

Inclusion as a foundation of corporate culture is an integral part of how we benefit from the diversity of our workforce: by embracing the differences that make each of our employees exceptional. We are committed to creating a safe, positive, and nurturing work environment where all people feel valued, respected, and heard. We are convinced that this promotes thoughtful and valuable dialog and fosters innovation. We actively include diversity topics in our employee communication and leadership programs to raise awareness and continuously advance our culture of inclusion.

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