Past to present – driven by our purpose and caring for people

Mar 18, 2022 - Reading time 3-5 minutes

A company can have a powerful impact on the world when it acts with purpose and caring. As a leading health technology company, Philips’ purpose is to improve people’s health and well-being through meaningful innovation. We aim to improve the lives of 2.5 billion people per year by 2030, while acting responsibly towards our planet and society. And we strive to be the best place to work for people who share our passion.

Preventive Care

“Our purpose and the company’s history of putting people at the center – not only in what we do, but in how we treat our people – is what attracted me to Philips,” says Daniela Seabrook, Philips Chief Human Resource Officer. “At Philips, our ambition is for every single employee to thrive and feel valued for who they are and what they contribute.”

Philips’ history of social responsibility


The importance of employee well-being is nothing new to Philips, which was one of the first companies in the Netherlands to set up a fund that paid employees – 70% of their salary – when they were off sick. In 1909, the Philips Medical Service was put in place to give employees and their families free access to doctors and provide free medication and dressings. Philips also provided a fully equipped outpatient clinic, child health clinic, pharmacy, and midwifery service. The Philips Medical Service laid the foundation for occupational healthcare in the Netherlands.

Philipsdorp in 1918

Philipsdorp in 1918

As the company expanded, it became increasingly difficult for employees to find suitable accommodation, so Philips built its own housing that was designed like a small village and became known as ‘Philipsdorp.’ In 1913, the Philips Pension was set up to provide retirement pensions, disability benefits and a widow’s and orphan’s pension. In addition, the Philips Support Fund (Philips’ Ondersteuningsfonds) was available to employees who, through no fault of their own, found themselves in financial difficulty.

Pension fund in 1918

Pension fund in 1918

After the Second World War, the Social Affairs department under the leadership of Frits Philips took responsibility for the company’s social policy and defined the essential elements of the company’s social obligations to its employees. The department focused on three core tasks: social security, work satisfaction and social responsibility. Fully in keeping with Frits’ personal convictions, the emphasis lay on individual attention for employees.

Philips Ontspanningsgebouw events venue in 1946

Philips Ontspanningsgebouw events venue in 1946

During the final quarter of the 20th century, there was an increasing overlap between the company’s social offerings and those provided by government – like public healthcare, social housing, open-access education, student finance, and subsidies for sports and cultural pursuits. This led to a debate about which responsibilities should be taken by the state and which by companies. Now more emancipated and vocal, modern employees were less interested in a paternalistic employer relationship.


A major shift took place in 1980, when the Philips Medical Service’s primary healthcare offering began being delivered by an independent body. Most Philips employees felt it was no longer appropriate for the doctors or social workers treating them to also be employed by the company. Following this, it became clear that the Philips schools – which ranged from nursery schools to vocational training institutes – would also function more effectively if they were public bodies.

Kindergarten in 1950

Kindergarten in 1950

Philips gradually amended company social provisions to better suit people’s needs and a changing world. However, the company’s ambition to strive for the highest possible social standards has remained unchanged and is still firmly embedded in the company culture.

Building on a legacy of caring

Philips’ people-centered heritage still guides how we operate today. Our social policy forms part of the Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) Commitments that define the company’s responsibility to our own employees, as well as to workers in our supply chain, and to the people and communities we serve. Key elements of our social impact strategy include addressing human rights and expanding access to healthcare, in particular for people living in underserved communities. These all are part of Philips’ overall aim to improve billions of lives all over the world.


In 2021, Philips was the first Dutch company to be ranked among the world’s top 15 companies with the best reputation, per Global RepTrack, which assesses how companies perform on emotional aspects of reputation (such as Appearance and Trust) and rational aspects (including Products & Services, Governance, and Citizenship). This year, Philips earned a top score of 100 in the Human Rights Campaign Foundation’s 2022 Corporate Equality Index (CEI) measuring corporate policies and practices related to LGBTQ+ workplace equality.


 “An effective people strategy fosters a work environment where our people feel they belong and can grow both personally and professionally,” says Daniela Seabrook. As chair of the Philips Global Diversity Council, she’s committed to building on Philips’ culture of diversity, inclusion and belonging. “We’re striving to create a culture where differences are embraced, where people feel cared for and listened to, and where everyone can be at their best.”


We know there’s still work to be done, and we remain transparent about our progress along the journey. Looking forward, we will continue to step up our efforts to make a better world for our people and the people whose lives we touch.


Interested in making a positive impact on the world? Join our team at Philips. Read more stories about Philips’ history on the Philips Museum website.

Share this article

  • Link copied


You are about to visit a Philips global content page


Our site can best be viewed with the latest version of Microsoft Edge, Google Chrome or Firefox.