How we work

As an engaged owner of LEO Pharma and one of Denmark’s largest enterprise foundations with substantial philanthropic activities and significant financial investments, the LEO Foundation plays an active role in society.

Thus, we have an important obligation and responsibility to operate transparently and with integrity in all of our actions.

We fully support and comply with all the recommendations of the Danish Committee on Foundation Governance.

Besides this we follow a number of policies regarding conflict of interests, taxation, code of conduct, etc.

A commercial foundation with a clear charter

The LEO Foundation is a Danish foundation with corporate interests. The Foundation operates independently of any other interests than those described in the Foundation’s charter.

The charter is in essence the will of the Foundation’s founder, Knud Abildgaard, who until his death in 1986, was the owner of LEO Pharma.

The charter sets the overall purpose and objective of the Foundation and defines how it should be governed.​

In accordance with the charter, the Foundation’s primary purpose and objective is to ensure the continuance of LEO Pharma.

The charter defines the Foundation’s philanthropic field as support to research within medicine, chemistry and pharmacy​.

Governance recommendations

The Foundation is governed by the Danish Foundation Act, and the Danish Business Authority therefore supervises the Foundation.

In accordance with Danish law, the Committee on Good Foundation Governance has prepared a set of recommendations on foundation governance, which the foundations with corporate interests must address and explain if they do not comply with the recommendations (the “comply or explain” principle).

The LEO Foundation fully supports and complies with all the recommendations.

LEO Foundation Code of Conduct

In the LEO Foundation we expect our employees and partners to operate with high ethical standards and always ensure compliance with applicable laws and regulations.  

With the LEO Foundation Code of Conduct, we have defined 10 guiding principles for ethical behavior. It is built on our values of integrity, dedication and ambition and reflects our commitment to create sustainable value for people and society and to always do business in a responsible way. 

Conflict of Interest Policy

The LEO Foundation aims to ensure that rules and principles of eligibility are adhered to.

These principles describe the policy for legal capacity and conflict of interests in connection with handling applications and granted projects in the Foundation.

The rules apply to members of LEO Foundation’s Board of Trustees, members of the Foundation’s commitees and employees of the LEO Foundation.

Diversity, equity and inclusion

At the LEO Foundation, diversity of talent, equitable practices, and an inclusive culture are key contributors to a motivating and engaged culture providing the basis for achieving our ambitions. We take an active approach to promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion principles and practices across our work – as an employer, company owner, investor, and philanthropist.

Anchored in our values of integrity, dedication, and ambition, and complementing our Code of Conduct, our Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Policy outlines the principles of working with DEI in the LEO Foundation.

The policy is addressed to employees of the LEO Foundation and LEO Holding as well as our board members, external committee members, business partners, and personnel funded by Foundation grants. We expect them all to encourage a culture of diversity, equity and inclusion.

How we practice…


We practice diversity by encouraging a broad range of differences in identity, experience, perspective, and skill in all that we do.

  • We strive to build diverse boards, management and employee teams, and scientific review panels within our own organization.
  • Specifically, on gender diversity we have established targets for an equal gender balance (40%/60%) among the charter-appointed members of our Board and at management level. We report on targets in our annual report.
  • We have pledged to promote gender balance within health science and strive to do our part in supporting a research community that attracts, develops, and retains diverse talent. We monitor and compare the gender distribution of both grant applicants and recipients and report on it in our annual report.


We practice equity by focusing on fair treatment for all through fair, just, and consistent practices and policies.

  • We place equity at the center of our policies and practices and strive to ensure that all our activities are governed by just, respectful, and transparent processes.
  • Employees, grant applicants and recipients, and other stakeholders must always be treated and evaluated on the basis of equitable processes.


We practice inclusion by cultivating a culture that actively welcomes and embraces all people and enables them to make meaningful contributions.

  • We focus on fostering a culture and environment that is welcoming and open to all people and in which all are inspired to interact through mutual respect, support, and appreciation of difference.
  • Our Code of Conduct specifies that we do not tolerate any form of discrimination or harassment. It sets expectations not only for ourselves but also for key external stakeholders to refrain from and prevent any discrimination, harassment, harsh and inhumane treatment.

How we contribute to sustainable development

Improving health

Improving health and the lives of people living with skin diseases is where we have an opportunity to make a real difference for people and society and it is our most substantial contribution to sustainable development.

Taking responsibility

In addition to improving health, we also aim to contribute to sustainable development by taking responsibility and promoting good environmental, social and governance (ESG) practices.

Managing sustainability risks

We actively address sustainability risks in critical areas as human and labor rights, climate and environment, anti-corruption, fraud, diversity and inclusion, and data protection. We have a dedicated risk management process, policies and tools in place to address risks, including our  Code of Conduct to ensure high standards. Learn more in our annual report (p 33).

Responsible tax practices

Our tax principles

We are committed to being transparent and responsible in all of our actions, including how we conduct our tax affairs.

We have developed a set of key tax principles. The tax principles apply to the LEO Foundation and our subsidiaries including LEO Holding and LEO Pharma.

These have been approved by our Board and are reviewed annually.

Tax Code of Conduct

The LEO Foundation is a signatory to the common Tax Code of Conduct, which was established by four major Danish pension funds. The Tax Code of Conduct outlines principles and recommendations promoting responsible tax behavior regarding unlisted investments.

Danish taxation law

Foundations are subject to the same tax regulations and tax rates as Danish corporations and limited liability companies. Taxation is governed by the Danish Foundation Tax Act, which also includes special regulations that apply to foundations.

A foundation that provides grants for charitable purposes may deduct the amount of the grants from its taxable income. Consequently, foundations that grant their entire profit to charitable purposes do not pay taxes but grant the money instead.

In addition, the foundations may take advantage of a consolidation deduction of 4% when grants are awarded for charitable purposes. The purpose of the deduction is to maintain the foundation capital’s purchasing power and prevent that it would otherwise be eroded over time due to price trends and inflation.

Communication and public affairs

As an engaged owner of LEO Pharma and as a large commercial foundation with substantial philanthropic activities and significant financial investments, the LEO Foundation has an important obligation and responsibility to operate transparently and with integrity.

With our communication we aim to ensure transparency in all our actions and to create a distinct and clear profile of the Foundation among our stakeholders.

Impact and evaluation

The LEO Foundation wants to ensure that we can demonstrate the impact and value of our work and the research supported – and that grants are given in a way that ensures optimal benefit for the research community and for society in general.

That is why we ask all grantees and awardees to report on their research at least annually. Reporting of output, outcome and impact is carried out through two web-based tools, Researchfish and Foundgood, which are used to collect data, assess the effects of our support and facilitate our dialogue with grantees.

As part of our ongoing strategic work, we are continuously working on new approaches to measuring the effect and societal impact of the Foundation’s overall goals and specific grant instruments – also in the very long run.

Strategy and evaluation

Receiving feedback from stakeholders and evaluating funding instruments and initiatives is essential in fulfilling our mission of creating sustainable value for people and society.

Our grant strategy is based on stakeholder interviews and feedback from a broad group of experts within the global skin research ecosystem – researchers and university management, other foundations etc., and evaluations of funding instruments and initiatives are conducted at an ongoing basis.

Our overall strategy similarly builds on input from and interviews with a broad range of stakeholders from, for example, other foundations, the skin research ecosystem, experts from the foundation landscape, LEO Pharma, and others.

Two symposia receive first funding through new Research Networking Grants program

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New children’s books tell the lives and discoveries of great Danish scientists

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Two symposia receive first funding through new Research Networking Grants program

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New children’s books tell the lives and discoveries of great Danish scientists

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New York skin scientist wins prestigious LEO Foundation Award

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New Communication Manager and Editor at the LEO Foundation

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New Scientific Management Assistant for the LEO Foundation

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