What is generally meant by diversity in the workplace in your jurisdiction? Which factors are the primary focus?

While Switzerland is well aware of the global diversity and inclusion discussion, its employment law does not require that a diversity programme be established in the workplace except for in the public sector (eg, the federal government, federal and state universities and the Swiss railways). However, a variety of Swiss companies across all industry sectors (eg, Novartis, Roche, Swisscom, Credit Suisse, AXA, PwC and Coutts) have since adopted group-wide diversity and inclusion initiatives and policy programmes.

Employment law and related court precedents provide for anti-discrimination in the workplace regarding race, gender, religion, age, nationality and health. However, these provisions do not guarantee affirmative action.

What progress has been made to date in your jurisdiction to foster diversity in the workplace?

Adopting diversity programmes is considered to be best practice and part of an employer's corporate social responsibility.

Due to its various affirmative diversity policies, the public sector is perceived to be the best employer in response to modern work-life balance and the needs of a diverse staff.

What positive measures can employers adopt to foster diversity in the workplace without running the risk of positive discrimination claims?

It is believed that no existing affirmative diversity programmes have led to complaints about positive discrimination.

What training methods and key performance indicators can employers use to promote and assess diversity in the workplace? Can the resulting data be shared if it includes confidential employee information?

International business players in Switzerland tend develop a multi-pronged strategy for their organisations to build a high-performing culture in a diverse and inclusive workforce. This requires the integration of a diversity and inclusion strategy into existing business processes (eg, recruitment, performance, management, leadership development, employee engagement, employee compensation and employee retention). Senior leaders who are committed to leading their business into a more diverse and inclusive organisation should be supported by the business as a whole.

Staff and management training is instrumental to any diversity and inclusion strategy, and the key training methods of such a strategy should raise awareness across the business. As performance indicators are difficult to define, confidential data can be used, provided that anonymity is secured.

What are the implications for global businesses working in multiple jurisdictions with different diversity laws? Do the approaches taken by domestic and multinational enterprises differ in your jurisdiction?

International businesses often adopt diversity and inclusion programmes that are applicable across the world. Such a global approach would generally include strict US and UK diversity and inclusion standards as best practice in order to avoid legal discrepancies across jurisdictions.

For further information on this topic please contact Thomas Rihm at Rihm Rechtsanwälte by telephone (+41 44 377 77 20) or email ([email protected]). The Rihm Rechtsanwälte website can be accessed at www.rihm-law.ch.