With the Carl Zeiss Foundation, Ernst Abbe pursued various goals whose realization he hoped to permanently secure with the foundation model:
- preservation of the companies and their economic capacity,
- promotion and social security of employees, including their social environment,
- funding of science research from the profits of the companies.
Certificate of Incorporation
The Certificate of Incorporation of 1889 consists of only 17 paragraphs and regulates the foundation goals pursued by Ernst Abbe, questions of the transfer of assets to the Foundation, and above all, the use of corporate income. The focus is on the funding of scientific purposes at the University of Jena.
First foundation statute
The foundation statute of 1896 contains a total of 122 paragraphs. In it, Ernst Abbe combined a visionary, modern, employee-friendly corporate philosophy with entrepreneurial patronage.
In the foundation statute, Ernst Abbe described his basic principles on corporate governance and social security for employees in detail. That was his way to permanently commit the Foundation to these principles. As an internal corporate statute, the statute was handed out to all employees of the foundation companies. His regulations on health, pension and survivors’ insurance, working hours, salary, and leave as well as his appointment of an independent workers’ committee for issuing advisory opinions to the Executive Board were exemplary for his time. It was not until half a century later that the principles developed and implemented by Ernst Abbe became established in Germany in the form of modern labour laws and a corporate philosophy aligned with the common good.
This did not change the purpose of the foundation, which was to promote science.
The Supplementary Statute of 1900 contained 14 articles that regulated donations to the University of Jena via the “Ministerial Fund for Scientific Purposes” (University Fund of the Carl Zeiss Foundation) established in 1886.
As part of the fundamental foundation reform of 2004, the statutes of the Carl Zeiss Foundation were adapted to the social, economic and legal changes; it has been in force since 01 July 2004.
The reform was deliberately tied to the original goals of Ernst Abbe. The formal separation of the foundation companies from the Foundation by spinning the companies off into legally independent joint-stock companies already provides the desired results: by clearly assigning responsibility for individual foundation purposes to individual persons, the various foundation goals are realised more effectively side by side.
Further adjustments to the statute
The age limit regulation (affecting the members of the Foundation Board of Trustees), which no longer lines up with the actual and legal framework conditions, was changed in 2009.