Board of Directors
The Board of Directors of Sonova Holding AG sets the overall direction and supervision of the management (see Art. 716a para. 1 of the Swiss Code of Obligations). Its working methods are reflected in the Organizational Rules (available here) and the Board Committee Charters (available here).
Board of Directors independence
Members of the Board of Directors are considered to be independent, according to Art. 14 of the Swiss Code of Best Practice for Corporate Governance and Art. 6 lit. c of the Organizational Regulations, if they personally or in association with related persons have not been a member of the Management Board during the last three years, and have no or only comparatively minor business relations with the company. According to these rules all members of Sonovaʼs Board of Directors are considered to be independent with the exception of Lukas Braunschweiler, former CEO and member of the Board of Directors since the 2018 AGM.
Executive management positions
No member of the Board of Directors holds an executive management position with Sonova Holding AG or any of its subsidiaries.
Business connections of Board members with Sonova Holding AG or its subsidiaries
In the 2020/21 financial year, there were no business connections between individual members of the Board of Directors, including companies or organizations represented by them, and Sonova Holding AG.
Other activities and vested interests
Except as disclosed in the biographies of the members of the Board of Directors, no member of the Board of Directors holds any position in a governing or supervisory body of any important private or public sector organization, institution, or foundation; none holds any permanent management or consultancy position with an important interest group, or any public or political office.
Mandates outside Sonova Holding AG
No member of the Board of Directors may hold more than four additional mandates in listed companies and in total no more than six additional mandates. The following mandates are not subject to these limitations:
- Mandates in companies which are controlled by Sonova or in companies which control Sonova;
- Up to ten mandates held at the request of Sonova or companies controlled by Sonova; and
- Up to six mandates in associations, charitable organizations, foundations, trusts, and employee welfare foundations.
For further details please see Art. 30 of the Articles of Association, available here.
Board of Directors competence and evaluation
The Nomination and Compensation Committee and the Board of Directors evaluate current and prospective members of the Board according to a skills and experience competency matrix to ensure that an appropriate mix of relevant skills and experience is represented in the Board of Directors. The matrix includes criteria relating to executive management expertise, board experience, relevant industry know-how, strategic thinking (including M&A), international/regional experience, technology/product development experience (HW & SW), digital expertise, IT/SLC expertise, financial expertise, sales/marketing expertise, retail and service expertise, HR expertise, and expertise in legal, regulatory, compliance, and corporate governance. In the nomination and evaluation processes, by following the matrix criteria, the Nomination and Compensation Committee as well as the Board of Directors are committed to consider characteristics such as, and including but not limited to, gender, age, nationalities or country of origin, ethnicity, cultural background, ways of believing and mindsets to establish balance in terms of diversity and inclusion.
The Nomination and Compensation Committee/Board of Directors uses this information, including when potential gaps are identified, to help create profiles for new director searches.
Furthermore, an annual self-assessment is conducted to evaluate the work of the Board of Directors in order to:
- Ensure and enhance a comprehensive understanding of the business and the company;
- Evaluate the work of the Board of Directors, its committees, the individual board members and the Chair;
- Make the best use of the human capital represented on the Board of Directors; and
- Optimize efficiency, effectiveness of working methods, and cooperation among members of the Board of Directors and members of the Management Board.
The Chair of the Board of Directors initiates the annual Board of Directors self-assessment by distributing an evaluation questionnaire, which has previously been approved by the Board of Directors. The Chair of the Board of Directors is responsible for collecting the assessments and for initiating the review of the consolidated results by the Nomination and Compensation Committee and subsequently the Board of Directors.
Composition of the Board of Directors
As of March 31, 2021, the composition of the Board of Directors in terms of these relevant characteristics is as follows:
Elections, terms of office and biographies
Election procedure and limits on the terms of office
Art. 16 para. 1 of the Articles of Association of Sonova Holding AG states that the Board of Directors must consist of a minimum of three and a maximum of nine members. The members of the Board of Directors are elected by the shareholders at the General Shareholdersʼ Meeting (Art. 10 no. 2 of the Articles of Association, available here).
Re-elections for successive terms are possible. Members of the Board of Directors shall retire automatically at the first General Shareholdersʼ Meeting following their seventieth birthday. In justified individual cases, the Board of Directors may make an exemption. For further details please see Art. 16 of the Articles of Association, available here, and Art. 6 of the Organizational Regulations, available here.
First election and remaining term of office
The following table shows the date of first election for each member of the Board of Directors. The Articles of Association require that the term of office of a Board member ends after completion of the next Annual General Shareholdersʼ Meeting. As a consequence, each Board member will have to be re-elected annually at the General Shareholdersʼ Meeting. All previous Board members were re-elected by the 2020 Annual General Shareholdersʼ Meeting (the Articles of Association are available here). Lukas Braunschweiler was newly elected to the Board of Directors for the first time at the AGM in 2018 after he stepped down on March 31, 2018 as CEO of the Sonova Group. Adrian Widmer was elected to the Board of Directors for the first time at the AGM in 2020.
Robert F. Spoerry
Lynn Dorsey Bleil
Stacy Enxing Seng
Ronald van der Vis
Robert F. Spoerry
(born 1955, Swiss citizen) has been Chair of the Board of Directors of Sonova Holding AG since March 30, 2011, and a non-executive member of the Board of Directors since 2003. He also serves as Chair of the Nomination and Compensation Committee.
Robert F. Spoerry is also the non-executive Chair of the Board of Directors of Mettler Toledo International Inc., a leading global manufacturer and marketer of precision instruments and related services for use in laboratory, manufacturing, and food retailing applications. He joined Mettler Toledo in 1983 and was CEO from 1993 to 2007. He led the buyout of Mettler-Toledo from Ciba-Geigy in 1996, and the companyʼs subsequent Initial Public Offering on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in 1997. In 1998, he was nominated as Chair of the Board of Directors.
His long-standing experience in the technology sector, his deep knowledge of Sonova and his strong technical background with innovation-driven companies provides a substantial benefit to the Group and its shareholders. Robert F. Spoerry devotes a substantial amount of his time to his service as Chair of the Board of Directors and Chair of the Nomination and Compensation Committee.
Robert F. Spoerry graduated in mechanical engineering from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) in Zurich, Switzerland, and holds an MBA from the University of Chicago.
- Member of the Board of Directors of Conzzeta Holding AG
- Non-executive Chair of the Board of Directors of Mettler Toledo International Inc.
After many years as Nomination and Compensation Committee member and Chair, Robert F. Spoerry decided not to stand for re-election as a member of the committee at the 2021 AGM.
(born 1949, Swiss citizen) has been Vice Chair and a non-executive member of the Board of Directors of Sonova Holding AG since June 19, 2012. He serves on the Nomination and Compensation Committee.
From 1988 to 2003, he served as General Counsel of ABB Group and, from 2003 to 2011, as Group Legal Director and member of the Group Executive Committee of Royal Dutch Shell plc.
With his broad international and legal experience, including in the areas of compensation, corporate governance, compliance and risk management, Beat Hess adds substantial insight into these topics.
Beat Hess studied at the Universities of Geneva, Freiburg, and Miami, is an attorney-at-law and holds a doctorate in Law.
- Chair of the Board of Directors of LafargeHolcim Ltd. (since May 2016; previously Vice Chair)
Having reached Sonovaʼs age limit for Board membership, Beat Hess will not stand for re-election at the Annual General Shareholdersʼ Meeting in June 2021 when his term of office expires.
Lynn Dorsey Bleil
(born in 1963, US citizen) has been a non-executive member of the Board of Directors since 2016. She serves on the Audit Committee.
She retired as Senior Partner (Director) from McKinsey & Company in the US in 2013 after more than 25 years of advising senior management and boards of leading healthcare companies on corporate and business unit strategy, mergers and acquisitions, and public policy across all segments of the healthcare value chain. She was also a member of the Board of Directors of Auspex Pharmaceuticals until its sale to Teva in March 2015, and DST Systems until its sale to SS&C in April 2018.
With her extensive experience in advising North American healthcare companies across the entire value chain and through her various board mandates in this sector, she brings very valuable strategic perspectives to the Group and contributes her broad knowhow as a Board member.
Lynn Dorsey Bleil holds a Bachelorʼs degree in Chemical Engineering from Princeton University and a Masterʼs degree in Business Administration from the Stanford University Graduate School of Business.
- Member of the Board of Directors of Alcon Inc.
- Member of the Board of Directors of Stericycle, Inc.
- Member of the Board of Directors of Amicus Therapeutics, Inc.
- Vice Chair of the Governing Board of Intermountain Healthcare Park City Hospital
(born 1956, Swiss citizen) was the CEO of the Sonova Group from November 2011 until March 31, 2018 and has been a non-executive member of the Board of Directors since 2018.
Before joining the company, Lukas Braunschweiler was CEO of the Swiss technology group RUAG. From 2002 to 2009, as President and CEO, he headed the Dionex Corporation. The California-based company, active in the life sciences industry, was listed on the Nasdaq stock exchange. Previously, from 1995 to 2002, he held various group executive positions in Switzerland and the US for Mettler Toledo, a precision instruments manufacturer.
Lukas Braunschweiler brings broad CEO experience from a variety of tech-oriented companies and industries in an international environment. Having served as CEO of Sonova from 2011 to 2018, he has not only a comprehensive knowledge of Sonova as a company and its business but also a broad experience in the global hearing aid industry.
Lukas Braunschweiler received a Master of Science in analytical chemistry (1982) and was awarded a Ph.D. in physical chemistry (1985) from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) in Zurich.
- Chair of the Board of Directors of Tecan Group AG
- Member of the Board of Directors of the Schweiter Technology Group (until April 1, 2021)
- Member of the Board of Directors of Sulzer Ltd. (until April 14, 2021)
- Member of the Board of Directors of private, non-listed BURU Holding AG
- President of Swiss Management Association SMG
Lukas Braunschweiler is foreseen to become member and Chair of the Nomination and Compensation Committee after the Annual General Shareholdersʼ Meeting in June 2021.
(born 1953, Swiss and German citizen) has been a non-executive member of the Board of Directors since 2003 and serves as member of the Audit Committee. Michael Jacobi has been an independent consultant since 2007.
From 1996 to 2007, he was CFO and member of the Executive Committee of Ciba Specialty Chemicals Inc. Prior to this, since 1978, Michael Jacobi held various management positions in the area of finance at Ciba-Geigy Group in Brazil, the US, and in Switzerland.
With his wide management and financial background and his expertise as former CFO, Michael Jacobi is well qualified to serve as a member of the Audit Committee as a financial expert.
Michael Jacobi studied economics and business administration at the University of St. Gallen, Switzerland, at the University of Washington in Seattle, and at the Harvard Business School in Boston. He earned a Ph.D. from the University of St. Gallen in 1979.
After 18 years as member of the Board of Directors, Michael Jacobi will not stand for re-election at the Annual General Shareholdersʼ Meeting in June 2021 when his term of office expires.
Stacy Enxing Seng
(born 1964, US citizen) has been a non-executive member of the Board of Directors since 2014 and serves on the Nomination and Compensation Committee.
She previously served as President of Covidienʼs Vascular Therapies division. Stacy Enxing Seng joined Covidien in July 2010 through its acquisition of ev3 where she was a founding member and executive officer responsible for leading ev3’s Peripheral Vascular Division from inception. She has also held various positions at Boston Scientific, SCIMED Life Systems Inc., Baxter Healthcare, and American Hospital Supply.
With her broad experience in the medical technology sector as well as in the healthcare sector and her strong track record in growing startups and leading multinational companies, she brings important perspectives to the Group. Her expertise in working with regulatory agencies around the globe brings valuable insight to the Board of Directors.
Stacy Enxing Seng received a Master of Business Administration from Harvard University and has a Bachelor of Arts in Public Policy from Michigan State University.
- Member of the Board of Directors of Hill-Rom Holdings, Inc.
- Member of the Board of Directors of LivaNova, Inc.
- Venture Partner, Lightstone Ventures
Stacy Enxing Seng is foreseen to become the Vice Chair of the Board of Directors after the Annual General Shareholdersʼ Meeting in June 2021.
Ronald van der Vis
(born 1967, Dutch citizen) has been a non-executive member of the Board of Directors since 2009 and Chair of the Audit Committee since 2019.
Ronald van der Vis was Executive Director of the Board and Group CEO of Esprit Holdings Limited, a global fashion and lifestyle company listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, from 2009 until November 2012. Prior to this, since 1998, he held various general management positions at GrandVision NV, the worldʼs leading optical retailer. He was group CEO at GrandVision NV from 2004 to 2009.
With his extensive international expertise in the retail sector and his broad M&A, corporate finance and strategic experience, Ronald van der Vis provides valuable input to the Groupʼs vertically integrated business strategy.
Ronald van der Vis graduated from the Nyenrode Business University in the Netherlands and received his Masterʼs degree in business administration from the Alliance Manchester Business School in the UK. He has gained significant financial expertise both through his education and through his business experience as CEO and private equity partner.
- Operating Partner, Co-Investor and Industry Advisor
- Chair of the Supervisory Board of European Dental Group Holding BV
- Member of the Supervisory Board of HEMA BV
(born 1957, US citizen) has been a non-executive member of the Board of Directors since 2013.
He served as operating partner at Hony Capital after he was Chair and CEO at PizzaExpress Group Holdings Limited. Previously he held a number of senior positions at Starbucks including Senior Vice President of Starbucks Corp., President of Starbucks Asia Pacific Region, as well as Chair and President of Starbucks Greater China Region. He started his career as a government official in the Ministry of Foreign Economic Relations and Trade in China.
With his broad business and legal background, particularly in the retail sector with a strong network both in China and in the United States, Jinlong Wang brings valuable insights to the Board of Directors. Thanks to his extensive operational and business development expertise he has made tangible contributions to the Groupʼs strategy in Asia and in particular in China.
Jinlong Wang graduated with a Bachelorʼs degree in International Economics and Trade from the University of International Economics and Trade in Beijing in 1982 and received his Juris Doctor degree at Columbia School of Law, Columbia University, in 1988.
- Independent non-executive director of Swire Properties Limited
- Independent non-executive director of Kerry Group PLC.
(born 1968, Swiss citizen) has been a non-executive member of the Board of Directors since 2020 and serves on the Audit Committee.
Since 2014 he is Group CFO of Sika AG, a global specialty chemical company based in Switzerland. Adrian Widmer previously served as Head Group Controlling and M&A at Sika from 2007 to 2014. Prior to joining Sika, he held various management positions at BASF, Degussa and Textron Inc. in the areas of finance and controlling, business development and general management.
With his broad management background, his experience in M&A and business development and particularly his financial expertise as active CFO, Adrian Widmer is well qualified to serve on the Audit Committee as a financial expert and is an ideal sparring partner for Sonovaʼs CFO.
Adrian Widmer holds a Master of Science degree in Business and Economics from the University of Zurich, Switzerland and completed the Advanced Management Program of INSEAD Fontainebleau in France.
- Group CFO of Sika AG
- Member of the Board of Directors of Swiss Steel Holding AG (until the 2022 AGM)
Adrian Widmer is foreseen to become Chair of the Audit Committee after the Annual General Shareholdersʼ Meeting in June 2021.
Internal organizational structure
Allocation of tasks within the Board of Directors
As specified in Art. 17 para. 1 of the Articles of Association, the Board of Directors constitutes itself, except for the Chair and the members of the Compensation Committee, who must be elected by the shareholders. If the office of the Chair or a member of the Compensation Committee is vacant, pursuant to Art. 16 para. 4 of the Articles of Association the Board of Directors appoints a replacement from among its members for the remaining term of office (the Articles of Association are available here).
In accordance with Art. 13 para. a of the Organizational Regulations which supplement the Articles of Association, the Board of Directors appoints an Audit Committee (the Organizational Regulations are available here).
Tasks and areas of responsibility of Board of Directorsʼ committees
The duties and authorities of the committees are defined in the Articles of Association (solely for the Compensation Committee, available here), the Organizational Regulations (available here), and the Committee Charters of the Board of Directors (available here). The committees usually meet before the Board of Directors meetings, report regularly on activities and make proposals to the Board of Directors on their findings. The overall responsibility for duties delegated to the committees remains with the Board of Directors.
The members of the Audit Committee are Ronald van der Vis (Chair), Lynn Dorsey Bleil, Michael Jacobi and Adrian Widmer. Adrian Widmer is foreseen to become the Chair of the Audit Committee after the Annual General Shareholdersʼ Meeting in June 2021 with Ronald van der Vis and Lynn Dorsey Bleil to remain members.
The duties of the Audit Committee include reviewing the performance and effectiveness of external and internal audit on behalf of the entire Board of Directors; evaluating the companyʼs financial control systems, financial structure, and risk management control mechanisms; and verifying the interim and annual accounts and financial statements of the Sonova Group. The Audit Committee is also kept regularly informed on the companyʼs compliance program. The Audit Committee Charter is available here.
The Audit Committee meets as often as required but no less than four times per year. During the reporting period, the Audit Committee met six times. The Chair of the Board of Directors was invited to, and attended, every Audit Committee meeting as a guest.
Nomination and Compensation Committee
The members of the Nomination and Compensation Committee are Robert F. Spoerry (Chair), Beat Hess, and Stacy Enxing Seng. After many years as Nomination and Compensation Committee member and Chair, Robert F. Spoerry decided not to stand for re-election as a member of the committee at the AGM 2021. Lukas Braunschweiler and Roland Diggelmann are proposed to be elected as members of Nomination and Compensation Committee after the Annual General Shareholdersʼ Meeting in June 2021 with Stacy Enxing Seng to remain a member. Lukas Braunschweiler is foreseen to become the Chair of the Nomination and Compensation Committee.
The Nomination and Compensation Committee supports the mission of the Board of Directors to attract, retain, and motivate people with outstanding professional and human capabilities at the Board of Directors and top management levels. In the selection and nomination processes, the committee considers independence, expertise, experience and skills (including those related to economic, environmental and social aspects) needed for the respective corporate bodyʼs tasks seeking – where possible – to establish balance in terms of diversity such as, and including but not limited to, gender, age, nationalities or country of origin, ethnicity, competencies, experiences, ways of believing and mindsets. The Nomination and Compensation Committee also supports the Board of Directors in preparing the Compensation Report, establishing and reviewing the Companyʼs compensation principles, guidelines, and performance metrics, and preparing proposals to the Annual General Shareholdersʼ Meeting on the compensation of the Board of Directors and Management Board. The committee may also submit proposals and recommendations to the Board of Directors on other compensation-related issues. The Nomination and Compensation Committee Charter is available here.
The Nomination and Compensation Committee meets as often as required but no less than three times per year. During the reporting period, the committee met seven times.
Working methods of the Board of Directors and its committees
During the reporting period, the Board of Directors held five regular virtual meetings and had six extraordinarily scheduled virtual meetings on additional subjects relevant to the challenges posed by COVID-19. The table below shows the individual membersʼ attendance at Board of Directors and committee meetings, as well as the average length of the meetings:
Regular BoD meetings
Extraordinary BoD meetings
No. of meetings in 2020/21
Robert F. Spoerry
Lynn Dorsey Bleil
Stacy Enxing Seng
Ronald van der Vis
Average meeting length
1)Regular Board of Directors meetings
2)Extraordinarily scheduled meetings of the Board of Directors on additional subject matters appropriate in the course of COVID-19
3)Regular Audit Committee meetings
4)Regular Nomination and Compensation Committee meetings
6)Guest at Board meeting before AGM in June 2020
7)Guest at the meeting before the AGM in June 2020
Urgent business matters were discussed in various telephone conferences. In addition to formal meetings at which minutes were taken, members of the Board of Directors or of the committees also frequently met informally for other topics and discussions that required additional time. These included but were not limited to, preparations for formal meetings, interviews and nomination of key individuals, and reviewing M&A projects.
The agenda for a meeting of the Board of Directors or of a Board committee is set by its respective Chair. Any member of the Board of Directors or a committee may request a meeting or ask that an item be put on the agenda. Members of the Board of Directors and the committees are provided in advance of meetings with all relevant documents that enable them to prepare for the discussion of the agenda items during the meeting. The Board of Directors and its committees constitute a quorum if at least half of the members are present. The Board of Directors and its committees approve resolutions by a majority of members present at the meeting. In the event of an equal number of votes, the Chair has the casting vote.
The Board of Directors works closely with the Management Board. In general, the meetings of the Board of Directors and its committees are also attended by the CEO and the CFO and, depending on the agenda, other members of the Management Board. The Board of Directors and the committees meet in executive session after every Board and committee meeting, respectively. The Board of Directors consults external experts in connection with specific tasks when necessary.
During the 2020/21 business year, the five regular meetings of the Board of Directors were attended by the CEO, the CFO and other members of the Management Board to review, amongst other topics, performance against plan, key initiatives, and strategic matters. Six of a total of eight extraordinary conference calls of the Board of Directors were attended by the CEO and the CFO. If necessary, the Board of Directors also consults with other internal experts (such as the Group General Counsel) or external advisors. No external party was invited to nor attended a Board meeting in the last business year. Five extraordinarily scheduled meetings relating to the business implications of COVID-19 were attended by the CEO and the CFO. Adrian Widmer was invited to the Board meeting before the 2020 AGM at which he was elected as a member of the Board of Directors.
Five of a total of seven meetings of the Nomination and Compensation Committee were held in the presence of the CEO and the Group Vice President Corporate Human Resources.
All six meetings of the Audit Committee were attended by the Chair, the CEO, the CFO, and the Head of Internal Audit and Risk. Representatives of the auditors have been invited to three of these meetings.
Definition of areas of responsibility
The Board of Directors of Sonova Holding AG is responsible for the overall direction of the company, except in matters reserved by law to the Annual General Shareholdersʼ Meeting. The Board of Directors decides on all matters that have not been reserved for or conferred upon another governing body of the company by law, by the Articles of Association, or by the companyʼs Organizational Regulations. The division of responsibility between the Board of Directors and the Management Board is set out in detail in the companyʼs Organizational Regulations (available here).
Information and control instruments vis-à-vis the Management Board
The Management Board reports regularly to the Board of Directors and its committees. At each Board meeting, the Management Board informs the Board of Directors of the status of current business matters and financial results, presents relevant strategic initiatives as well as major business transactions such as M&A. Each year a Board of Directorsʼ meeting is reserved for presentation and discussion of the companyʼs strategy and long term financial plan. The Board of Directors is provided with monthly consolidated sales reports providing data on revenue, average selling prices, and units for each major product, subsidiary, and market. The Board of Directors also receives on a monthly basis the financial report with the full profit and loss statement, the balance sheet, and the cash flow statement, as well as the CEOʼs report on business performance, the competitive situation, updates on various initiatives, and an outlook. Telephone conferences are held as required between Board members and the CEO or CFO. Furthermore, each member of the Board of Directors may request information on all matters concerning the company.
Internal audit, risk, and compliance
The mandates of the Internal Audit and Risk Management functions, along with their reporting lines and scope of activities, are defined in the Internal Audit & Risk Charter approved by the Audit Committee and the Board of Directors. Internal Audit carries out compliance and operational audits and assists the business units in attaining their goals by providing assurance from independent evaluation of the effectiveness of internal control processes. The Management is responsible for the control of business risks and for compliance with laws and regulations. The Audit Committee approves the annual work plans of Internal Audit and ensures that the relevant Group companies are adequately reviewed according to their risk scoring. The Audit Committee also reviews and discusses the reports on completed audits submitted by Internal Audit. Internal Audit, together with Business Controlling, monitors the implementation by Group companies of any measures necessary to address findings from previous audits, and regularly reports progress to the Audit Committee. The Head of Internal Audit & Risk reports to the Chair of the Audit Committee. In addition, the Chair of the Board of Directors is invited to the Audit Committee as a guest, and is thus kept fully informed but has no voting rights.
The Group has implemented an efficient and comprehensive system to identify and assess strategic, operational, financial, legal, and compliance risks related to the Groupʼs business activities. Risk management and mitigation proposals are prepared by the Management Board, reviewed by the Audit Committee and subsequently approved by the entire Board of Directors. The risk management function categorizes risks by severity and probability and supports the Management Board in determining the measures necessary to address or mitigate them.
The Board of Directors approves the risk assessment and provides guidance from a strategic point of view. To continuously monitor key risks and their mitigation, Risk Management prepares risk status reports which are presented to the Audit Committee on an ad hoc basis.
Risk Management also assumes responsibility for the internal control system (ICS) for financial reporting risks. The Board of Directors receives annual updates on the Group companiesʼ compliance with the ICS guidelines.
The Group compliance program supports Sonovaʼs core values of ethical behavior and unquestionable integrity. The program is administered by the Head Group Compliance Program and ultimately overseen by the Group General Counsel. Among other activities, the program administers the Ethics Hotline and other reporting channels and ensures that reports are adequately addressed; structures the policy framework for ethical business conduct and trains the businesses on it; counsels and advises on proposed business approaches; and supports the businesses in their vetting of business partners. Quarterly compliance reports are provided to the Audit Committee and an annual compliance report is addressed to the Board of Directors. The Group General Counsel has an activity-specific or “dotted-line” reporting relationship to the Chair of the Audit Committee with respect to Compliance responsibilities.
Environmental, Social and Governance Management (ESG)
Sonovaʼs environmental, social and governance (ESG) strategy is integrated into its overall strategy. Unvarying behavior in environmental, social and governance fields is an integral part into Sonovaʼs core values. “We take accountability” is one of our core values: ESG improvement indicators are therefore embedded throughout our business and we strive to optimize them with the same intensity as we do our financial ones.
Sonova has established an ESG Council, which oversees and further develops the Groupʼs ESG strategy, including commitments and targets, and monitors progress on key performance indicators and initiatives. The ESG Council meets at least on a quarterly basis and consists of the Group CEO, selected members of the Management Board, the Group General Counsel & Compliance Officer, and the Corporate Responsibility team. Progress on ESG targets is also regularly reviewed by the full Management Board and ESG targets are an element of each Management Board memberʼs variable compensation. The Board of Directors approves the ESG strategy, initiatives and targets and receives progress updates on at least a yearly basis (see the comprehensive Corporate Responsibility Report).
Some of key ESG topics at Sonova include climate change, diversity & inclusion (D&I), talent development & employee engagement, responsible supply chain management, data privacy and digital ethics. For example, a comprehensive D&I report including initiatives and specific targets is prepared by the CEO and Corporate Human Resource Management and reviewed annually by the entire Board of Directors. Responsible behavior also includes full compliance with tax laws and regulations at all times. Sonovaʼs tax principles (available here) provide high level information on procedures and internal guidelines for tax compliance throughout the Sonova Group (see the relevant chapters in the Corporate Responsibility Report for more information on the specific ESG topics).
Good governance is supported by a regular dialogue on ESG topics with proxy advisors, investors, and rating agencies, and by Sonovaʼs continuously active risk management and our compliance functions.