Table of Contents
Inclusive by design

Inclusive by design

At Zalando, our vision is to be the starting point for fashion—one that is welcoming to everyone. We strive to be inclusive by design, bringing to life the diversity of our talents, leaders, customers, and partners.

Our goal is to faithfully represent the diversity of our communities and wider society. To get there, we all—talents, leaders, customers, and partners—will work together to represent the values that are important to us. Through dedication, respect, and acceptance, we know we can reach the standards we aspire to.

Among other highlights of the past year, we launched our D&I strategy, building on our earlier work by setting out 12 concrete commitments. These contain specific targets against which we can track our progress. Over the past few months, we have worked hard towards these targets and achieved significant milestones. We have launched new training programs for Zalandos and for leadership teams, increased representation on our website, and broadened our assortments to include more items for underrepresented groups. Above all, we have made a continuous effort to listen to Zalandos, our customers, and our partners.

We want to listen, learn, and take action for Zalando to build a diverse and inclusive experience, and to foster an environment where everyone can thrive.

David Schneider, co-CEO
Portrait of David Schneider, Co-CEO Zalando SE

We have taken steps to do better, but we also know we are on a journey. Over the coming year, we will pursue our vision, which is to advance on our commitments, celebrate difference, and be inclusive in everything we do.

Our do.BETTER D&I strategy is based on our pledge to build a company in which inclusive behavior is second nature: Inclusive by design. The strategy consists of four pillars—talents, leaders, customers, and partners—each of which represents our vision of being inclusive by design across our business. This report showcases our progress under each pillar and highlights our plans for the coming year.1

Through our teams and Employee Resource Groups (ERGs), the work goes on: creating a better Zalando and a fashion and lifestyle industry for everyone.

1 Accurate as of August 31, 2021.

Group of four employees working together in a meeting room.
Woman working at a Zalando logistics centre.
Man working at a Zalando logistics centre.
Man sitting in front of a sofa, working from home.


Creating an inclusive workplace for our talents

Creating an inclusive workplace for our talents

Four symbols (Zalando brand icon, sparkling star, person icon with short hair and a circle representing the workplace) in the centre of a colourful background.

 

Over the past year, we have strived to enable everyone who works with us to be themselves. We have aimed to value them for who they are, recognizing their individual skills and qualities. However, we can do better. Through our initiatives, we want to ensure equal access to opportunities and a sense of belonging that enables all Zalandos to thrive in the workplace.

 

We have set out our standards in writing: our Code of Ethics underpins how Zalandos engage with each other and with our partners. Based on fundamental values of honesty, respect, trust, and fairness, it raises the bar for our behavior in everything we do.

What we have done over the past year


  • Unconscious bias training made available for all

  • Online D&I dialogues hosted by external D&I thought-leaders

  • Training for leaders on disability and other diversity dimensions

  • A new approach to hiring women into tech roles

  • Talent conversion programs to feed our tech talent pipeline

  • A new partnership with the Afro German Academic Network (ADAN)

  • The launch of a mentorship program for interns


Workforce Diversity

Pie chart shows the breakdown of the workforce by gender: Men: 53.3%,  Women: 46.7%, Non binary: 0.0%
Workforce by gender. At the moment, less than 1% of employees have self-disclosed as non-binary on our People system.
Generations in our workforce. More than half of all employees belong to Generation Y (1981-1994).
Pie chart shows the share of German and international employees: 43.4% of employees are from Germany, 30.2% from Europe (EU/EFTA),  10.0% from Asia, 8.3% from Europe (Non-EU/EFTA),  4.6% from Africa, 3.2% Americas, and 0.3% from Oceania.
Breakdown of workforce by internationality. Internationals are defined as employees without a German citizenship.

Women in tech

Graphic with the total share of women in technical jobs at 16.7 % in 2020 and 21.2 % in 2021.
The current overall share of women across all tech jobs is 21.2%, compared with 16.7% in 2020. Our commitment is to increase the share of women in tech jobs to between 40% and 60% by 2023.
Graph of the share of women in five job families. Software Engineering: 10.3% in 2020 and 13.9% in 2021. Applied Sciences: 2020 with 15.9% and 2021 with 18.8%. Product Design: 2020 at 51.9% and 2021 at 54.5%. Product Management: 35% in 2020 and 37.6% in 2021. Software Project Management: 2020 with N/A and 2021 with 53.6%.
Share of women in tech-related roles of software engineering, applied sciences, product design, product management, and software project management.

Our commitments




  • Employee Resource Groups: Fostering communities

    Some Zalandos have set up employee resource groups (ERGs), organized on the basis of shared identities or experiences. ERGs create safe spaces in which colleagues can come together, foster community and awareness, and voice their needs. They enhance the workplace experience and create a more respectful and inclusive culture.

     

    Over the past year, ERGs have organized several events aimed at promoting inclusion and raising awareness. For example, in July, our LGBTQI+ ERG hosted a Digital Pride month, which offered Zalandos the opportunity to celebrate diversity, join chat forums, hear from representatives, and engage with experts. In March 2021, the Women’s Network ERG arranged events to celebrate International Women’s Day. These included a panel discussion on personal successes in challenging the status quo and a workshop encouraging underrepresented groups to speak out about their achievements. Our Black Employee Connection ERG organized a session with Google and Adidas, focused on racial equity in the workplace, and our Mental Wellbeing ERG held events focused on mental health challenges and solutions.

     

    Eleven different symbols of the employee resources groups and their names: Ability & Neuro Diversity Group, Asia Pacific Community Circle, Black Employee Connection, Diversity Guild, LGBTQI+, Mental Wellbeing Community, Muslim Community Network, Women in Finance, Women in Tech, Women's Network and Zalando Parents Group.
    The Membership in ERGs increases every year, as seen in the number of ERG followers on Zalando’s intranet: Ability and Neurodiversity: 188 followers;  Asia Pacific Community Circle: 36 followers; Black Employee Connection: 427 followers; Diversity Guild: 592 followers; LGBTQI+: 570 followers; Mental Wellbeing Community: 134 followers; Muslim Community Network: 112 followers; Women in Finance: 123 followers; Women in Tech: 184 followers; Women's Network: 1015 followers; Zalando Parents Group: 475 followers.

Accelerate leadership accountability


Accelerate leadership accountability

Four symbols (speech bubbles in the form of a dialogue, person icon, two parallel lines with differently placed dots and a label with a heart) centrally in front of a colourful background.

 

We want our leaders to be role models who are motivated to make decisions that are inclusive by design. That means they challenge themselves to think inclusively from the start of any project, and aim to create an environment that values everyone’s ideas.

Zalando looks to its leadership to shape a workplace that embraces diversity, equity, and inclusion. Over the past year, we have equipped our leadership teams to work toward these goals. We have used more inclusive language in our communications and increased training across the company. Furthermore, we introduced a new hiring strategy to welcome diverse points of view.

What we have done over the past year



  • Workshops for leaders on critical D&I topics

  • Business unit action plans to embed D&I in everything we do

  • Diversification of our recruitment strategy to increase diversity at the leadership level

  • A management training program for women

  • Mentoring programs across different marginalized groups

  • Training for women in Customer Fulfillment teams

Women and internationals in leadership


Graph shows share of women in five leadership positions. Management Board: 20.0% in 2021. Senior Vice President: 16.7% in 2019, 30% in 2020 and 27.3% in 2021. Vice President: 2019 at 18.8%, 2020 at 21.9% and 2021 at 35.5%. Director: 2019 at 38.1%, 2020 at 35.8% and 2021 at 34.4%. Head: 2019 at 30.5%, 2020 at 29.6% and 2021 at 36.1%.
Share of Women in Zalando's top five leadership positions: Management Board, Senior Vice President, Vice President, Director, Head. We aim to achieve a balanced representation of both women and men in leadership, hence a share of 40-60% for both genders.
Graph shows the share of internationals in leadership with five different positions. Management Board: 20% in 2019, 2020 and in 2021. Senior Vice President: 20% in 2020 and 36.4% in 2021. Vice President: 2019 at 40.6%, 2020 at 43.8% and 2021 at 54.8%. Director: 2019 at 45.2%, 2020 at 53.7% and 2021 at 52.7%. Head: 2019 at 36.4%, 2020 at 43.5% and 2021 at 46.3%.
Share of internationals in Zalando's top five leadership positions: Management Board, Senior Vice President, Vice President, Director, Head. Internationals are defined as employees without a German citizenship.

Our commitments







Providing inclusive customer experiences

Providing inclusive customer experiences

Four symbols (magnifying glass, heart, smiling smiley and a bag) centrally in front of a colourful background.

 

Every day, we work to earn the trust of our customers. As we reimagine fashion and lifestyle for the good of all, we want our customers to feel respected, included, and celebrated.

Both internally and externally, we strive to better represent the diversity of our customers and society. Our ambitions are encapsulated in our customer promise: “Zalando embraces what makes you ‘you’. We continuously learn and work to challenge beauty and fashion stereotypes on behalf of our customers. And we offer our customers a welcoming space in which to discover and express themselves.”

Over the past year, we have made progress in striving to become a role model for the fashion industry. We celebrate our customers and create campaigns to showcase their authentic stories. Through our products and services, we aim to challenge stereotypes around body type and gender so that we can meet the needs of all of our customers. We want our customers to see true reflections of themselves in our images and communications.

Through research, focus groups, and interviews, we involve customers in vital decision-making. Analysing their perspectives helps us find solutions, for example, in the range of assortments we offer and the experience of finding the right size. However, we know we can do more to create a truly inclusive offering. We hope that by sharing our progress, we can learn from our customers, and we know that the best ideas come from listening to different voices. Our most recent market research, for instance, has helped us to identify features and services our customers would like to see to make their Zalando experience more inclusive.

What we have done over the past year


  • Audits to assess the fairness of key algorithms, supporting bias-free search outcomes

  • Audits for accessibility in our customer experience

  • Non-binary style inspiration through content creators and trained stylists

  • More modest-wear inspiration, styled by trained content creators

  • Continued work toward achieving inclusive and representative images across our platform


Our commitments





Fostering diversity and inclusion with our partners

Fostering diversity and inclusion with our partners

Four symbols (globe, person icon with short hair, a square with centrally located parallel lines of different lengths and a label with a heart) centrally located against a colourful background.

 

In our work with more than 4,500 partners, we want to help shape the fashion industry for the better. Through our networks and products, we advocate for more focus on D&I. Our industry can connect millions of customers to items and brands that celebrate their individuality. Still, we are not living up to our full potential. We have a way to go to truly represent the world in which we live. At Zalando, we want to do better and to be proactive in creating the mechanisms for change, such as programs for brands from underrepresented groups, which will drive diversity, equity, and inclusion on our platform and beyond.

Over the past year, we have reached out to new partners from underrepresented communities. From women’s footwear to beachwear and beauty, we are giving brands from underrepresented backgrounds a platform to showcase their fashions. We commit to working with diverse, creative people — irrespective of the size of their businesses. Through that commitment, we are making a positive statement on the need to keep moving toward a fairer society.

What we have done over the past year


  • Collaboration with three partners to promote D&I: The Valuable 500, JA Europe, and Afro-German Academic Network (ADAN)

  • Convenient payment terms for smaller partners

  • Onboarding of 41 Black-owned brands (as of August 2021)


Our commitments




We are on a journey

We are on a journey

Over the past year, we have taken steps to put our values into practice. We have launched initiatives to train our leaders and help our colleagues understand the many dimensions of promoting diversity and inclusion in the workplace. We have made solid progress on our 12 commitments. The momentum is with us, but we have more to do. With that in mind, we will accelerate our efforts over the coming year, ensuring that we convert our words into actions that make a difference to our talents, leaders, customers, and partners. We understand that promoting diversity and inclusion is not a one-time exercise. Rather, it is a way of living, thinking, and working that we renew every day. Our intention now is to move forward, so that we continue to progress on our commitments and make Zalando the starting point for fashion that is truly welcoming to everyone.


Acknowledgments

Authors: Helene Mathelemuse, Saskia Carter and Stefan Krier, Vikki Leach with contribution from Astrid Arndt, Gabriel Erguezel, Inara Joanethis, Jemma Garner, Lana Criggs, Lucy Stubley, Marc- Andre Luik, Nichelle Appleby, Tom Hurt.

Copywriter: David Wigan (English), Katja Richter (German)

Design: Sultan Berlin Design Studio

 

The authors would like to thank all colleagues at Zalando who helped create this report, especially André Zelmer, Basma Geigenmueller, Benjamin Schwans, Caleb Spahr, Danilo Boos, David Reiner, David Schneider, David Schröder, Denny Rueckstiess, Dorothee Schultz, Dshamila Müller, Hakan Jonsson, Janine Pirk-Schenker, Jeff Lovejoy, Jose Campillo, Joshua Young, Julia Zweigle, Julien Slijan, Kathleen Danielson, Katrin Fox, Kristall Thamas, Lena Wallenhorst, Matt Stone, Meg Greenhouse, Nathalie Faeltloev, Neha Jain, Niall Starling, Reza Moussavian, Sophia Steinmann, and Veronica Schilling.

 

Special thanks also goes to Zalando’s Works Councils and Employee Resource Groups for their collaboration and feedback.