Human rights, diversity and equal opportunities


When asked where Kuehne+Nagel should focus its efforts to become the “best company to work for,” employees overwhelmingly chose three priorities, providing leadership with a clear mandate for investing in solutions:

  • Work/Life Balance + Well-being (29 per cent of employees)
  • New Ways of working, including both team dynamics and technology (29 per cent of employees)
  • Opportunities for growth and career progression, with diversity, inclusion and equity in mind (21 per cent of employees)

With our employees' feedback, the organisation guides the future on the right path.

Kuehne+Nagel claims to adhere to the highest ethical and legal standards regarding freedom of association.

Enforcing human rights

Kuehne+Nagel is fully committed to adhering to all Global Human Rights Principles issued by the United Nations. All employees respect them, and we expect our partners and suppliers to also adhere to them.

In our effort to make Kuehne+Nagel the best company to work for, our cultural transformation program Care puts emphasis on generating an open feedback culture. Our staff is encouraged to connect with their managers and/or local HR if they feel unwell in their work environment.

Regional and country-level awareness has increased over the past two years thanks to a better definition of discrimination published in 2020 in an internal Diversity & Inclusion Policy. This led to the introduction of local processes to address workplace-related discrimination cases further. One example would be the United Kingdom, where in addition to conventional grievance processes, specific procedures have been introduced to deal with cases of bullying and harassment. There is also a review to ensure all issues of dispute can be addressed even before a formal procedure has to be started. In addition to remediation activities, we are confident that an open feedback culture allows Kuehne+Nagel to manage these cases even better in the future. Furthermore, concrete measures and training are currently being further developed in the regions to avoid or at least limit situations of discrimination at Kuehne+Nagel.

In addition to these local processes, Kuehne+Nagel employees can report alleged discrimination to the corporate departments via the well-established and known Confidential Reporting Line (see a separate chapter in the Ethics & Compliance section of this report). Concerns can be escalated every day of the week, any time of the day in a secure – if desired – anonymous way.

The regional management of North America decided to start a specific training campaign in 2020. This “Anti-harassment” campaign launched as dedicated computer-based training, which has now become mandatory for existing managers, voluntary for existing employees, and compulsory for every new-joiner. The version for managers includes modules on harassment fundamentals, harassment prevention, discrimination and national origin, workplace dating, abusive conduct, gender identity and expression, how to manage and respond to complaints, and retaliation. It closes with an application and assessment module that allows managers to apply what they’ve learned to real-world situations.
The employee version includes modules on harassment fundamentals, harassment prevention, discrimination and national origin, workplace dating, abusive conduct, gender identity, and expression.


  • In 2021, Kuehne+Nagel reviewed the current General Employment Conditions document, which included updates on existing covered topics and added new information on maternity leave, paternity leave, military service, and years of service in the organisation. The document is valid together with the Code of Conduct, where it addressed Kuehne+Nagel’s commitment to human rights, diversity and inclusion, health and safety, and employee relations. The plan is for the new document to be available in 2022.

Long-term target

  • Create a workplace where every employee feels they belong. Build on current practices in the workplace so employees continue to feel they belong. The focus will be on the baseline of the Future of Work engagement survey and identify opportunities for improvements, review phase of the employee lifecycle and introduce practices that instill accountability in building a culture of belonging. The foremost vital stakeholders are top and senior management, employees, and the Human Resources community (council). The approach needs to be clear and not develop potential confusion and align with other companies' initiatives.

Protecting labor rights

Kuehne+Nagel is committed to respecting local laws and regulations concerning not offering salaries below the local legal minimum wages. Additionally, in the majority of our significant locations of operations, our organisation offers salaries higher than the applicable minimum wage, in some locations, even up to twice as much as the minimum wage. Furthermore, no differentiation is made regarding the gender of the employee who receives the salary; the same minimum wage is used as a reference for all genders.

Sub-contracted workforce are paid by our reliable external partners whom we expect to pay the workers as per local requirements or existing bargaining agreements. Kuehne+Nagel is always committed to paying according to existing standards, and this is independent of gender.

In countries where parental leave is a legal requirement, all Kuehne+Nagel’s employees based in that country are entitled to parental leave within the legal frame. For example, Switzerland introduced paternity leave in the summer of 2021, and it has been immediately introduced for all Swiss employees.

Looking at our significant locations of operation, more female employees decide to take maternity leave. However, we recognise an increase in the number of male employees deciding to go on paternity leave. For those countries where numbers are currently available, approximately 85 per cent of the employees who take parental leave return to work after their leave period has ended. Out of the employees that do return, the return to work rate of female employees is slightly lower than that of male employees. With the increase of flexible working opportunities, Kuehne+Nagel also expects to increase employees' return to work.

Kuehne+Nagel is proud of the relationship established with local worker's representatives and, in particular, the excellent cooperation with the European Worker's Council (EWC) representing the majority of our workforce. In particular, the regular exchanges and meetings with our regional Management Boards and globally with our Chief Human Resources Officer shows our firm commitment to creating a work environment for our employees where they feel welcome to work in an employee-friendly environment.

Overall, 35 per cent of Kuehne+Nagel employees are affiliated with bargaining agreements. This number has decreased since 2020, mainly due to some significant divestment in several European countries, where most current bargaining agreements are in place.

As per the collective bargaining agreement with our most prominent workers representative, European Works Council (EWC), any significant operational changes that could substantially affect employees are on the annual agenda of the yearly EWC meeting. Where there are exceptional transnational circumstances affecting a substantial number of employees, particularly in the event of relocations, transfers, the closure of establishments or undertakings or collective redundancies, the Select Committee shall have the right to be informed. The EWC or Select Committee will be notified within fourteen days of receiving written and oral information on the proposed consultation must be undertaken. These points are fixed in writing in the Agreement between Kuehne+Nagel and the European Works Council.

Diversity and inclusion

By raising ‘belonging’ at Kuehne+Nagel, we are on the way to developing our mindsets and processes for inclusion and diversity. Companies with high diversity and successful inclusion achieve higher goals, attract and retain talent, and benefit from great teamwork and inspirational cooperation, which leads to better ideas, outcomes, and results.

We are committed to delivering progress to society and drive our future – inclusively. This purpose is outlined in our internal Global Diversity and Inclusion Policy. Kuehne+Nagel continues its diversity and inclusion journey that is called Balance+Belonging.

In the next two years, Balance+Belonging will focus on gender equality and equal opportunities for all at Kuehne+Nagel.

Kuehne+Nagel aims to double the female representation in Top Leadership from base year 2021 with 16 female top leaders to 32 by 2030. Actions that will support increased female representation in our leadership pipeline include: gaining commitment from top management (Board, Regional management, National management), increasing the pipeline of female talents through identification and structured development, and active placement of women within top leadership roles.  

The main stakeholders are top management, female employees ready to step up, and the Human Resources community. Kuehne+Nagel is already involved in development programmes for women (WILL, glass ceiling) that we mentioned in our previous Sustainability Reports. With this and similar programmes, we can double the female representation in Top Leadership in the next eight years. We rely on our internal mentors, learn best practices from other companies and universities, and develop external partners.

Balance+Belonging in Kuehne+Nagel Germany

Awareness of the topic:
To start a dialogue about Balance+ Belonging, the German organisation developed Awareness Workshops including HR and the Top 100 leaders. Discussions were done on various organisational processes which influence gender equity-like succession planning and recruitment.

“Charta der Vielfalt” / Diversity Charter and Association:
KN Germany is part of “Charta der Vielfalt”. This charter is an initiative to promote diversity in companies under the patronage of the German Federal Government.

Integration into training and processes:  
Balance+Belonging should not be perceived as additional or on top of. Instead, it should be naturally integrated into all elements within the organisation. To ensure this, KN Germany, therefore, started reviewing the existing HR processes such as onboarding, employer branding materials (Instagram, LinkedIn, etc.), recruiting (recruiting workshops, shortlisting, etc.), and existing and future training (POD Milestones).

KN Female Leaders Mentoring
Program and Networking Community: Germany completed its first female Leadership Mentoring Program with the strong support of the German Management Board. The self-nomination program offers a platform for women and senior managers to share career development views and discuss a particular topic.

Interviews with Top 20 KN Germany Management:
German Management Board plays a pivotal role in driving change. They acted as role models and were mentors in the Female Leaders Program.

Day of Action – Women’s week and Diversity Day 2021:
KN Germany also celebrated Women’s Week and Diversity Day like many other countries.