Major global trends are fundamentally transforming societies and people’s lives while also raising the bar for responsible corporate citizenship. We are tackling the major issues facing society today, including the growing global population, increasing life expectancy, resource scarcity, and climate impact mitigation. In developing and commercializing new technologies, our ambition is to generate added value for both our company and society as a whole.
Our approach: Creating shared value
As a leading science and technology company, we know that our business operations impact our environment and the people around us, which is why we have made responsible conduct a pillar of our company culture. This approach is also the foundation of our sustained business success. Through innovative top-quality products from our Healthcare, Life Science and Performance Materials business sectors, we help solve global challenges while also bolstering financial performance.
Our Group strategy is geared to profitable growth and thus business success, which means respecting the interests of employees, customers, investors and the community while also doing our best to mitigate ethical, economic and social risks. Our corporate responsibility (CR) strategy is derived from our Group strategy and focuses our resources on those areas where we can have the greatest impact. All our CR activities can be summed up as “good corporate citizenship”, which most importantly means listening and taking action.
We take on responsibility for our products, the environment and our neighbors and aspire to develop products and services that can help solve the major challenges of our time. With safety and ethics mattering just as much to us as business success, we work to minimize the environmental impacts of our production activities, which necessitates safe manufacturing techniques, high environmental standards and strict quality management. Furthermore, we aim to strengthen our company by recruiting, developing and motivating talented employees. We want to serve as an example for ethical conduct and actively contribute to the communities we live in.
In order to stay abreast of new global trends and challenges, we engage in dialogues and initiatives, share lessons learned and best practices with other organizations in our industry and assess media and news coverage. This allows us to minimize risks while also leveraging new business opportunities.
In 2019, we moved forward with the realignment of our CR strategy, which had started in 2018. We are increasingly pursuing a shared value approach and are working to make the value we create for the company and for society measurable.
Our CR strategy builds on our ambition to be a responsible corporate citizen, ensuring our social license to operate and maintaining our competitive edge. We believe that research and technology hold the key to solving global challenges and see our role in helping to shape society. In aligning our activities with the areas where we can have the greatest impact, we have defined three strategic spheres of activity as the center of our CR strategy – Global Health, Sustainable Solutions and Broad Minds.
We develop and manufacture medicines and smart devices that offer patients a broad array of healthcare solutions. Health awareness plays a key role in our approach to improving access to these healthcare solutions. For this reason, we regularly conduct disease awareness campaigns worldwide, drawing on a wealth of expertise from our businesses. Additionally, we collaborate with a range of partners to reach out to people in low- and middle-income countries. For example, we are engaged in the fight against schistosomiasis, a parasitic infection. Through our Global Health Institute, we are developing diagnostics, therapies and preventive solutions to address malaria as well as schistosomiasis and other neglected tropical diseases. You can find more information under “Health for all”.
We are constantly working to improve the sustainability footprint of our products to include their use phase as well. These efforts also help our customers achieve their own sustainability goals. To this end, we have established systematic approaches for product development such as Design for Sustainability. A program of our Life Science business sector, this initiative allows us to assess the sustainability of products under development through techniques such as life cycle analyses. You can find more information under “Sustainable product design”.
As a science and technology company, we endeavor to excite people about science, inspire curiosity and help their creativity take flight. Our goal is to bolster the reputation of our company in the science community, especially in those areas where we have particular expertise. We not only support educational programs for schools, but also back pioneering research at institutes of higher learning. Because music and literature inspire people, we also support a number of cultural initiatives worldwide. Creativity and curiosity are the bedrock of science, culture and art and also underpin our holistic approach. You can find more information under “Broad Minds”.
Corporate responsibility embedded in governance
Our CR strategy is approved by our Executive Board, which meets regularly to make decisions regarding our CR goals and reporting. Also tasked with overseeing corporate responsibility, our Group Corporate Affairs function reports to the Chairman of the Executive Board. We additionally have a CR Committee in place to steer the implementation of our CR strategy and submit recommendations regarding CR goals to the Executive Board. While our Executive Board Chairman bears overall responsibility for this body, it is led by the head of our Group Corporate Responsibility unit and consists of representatives from our business sectors as well as from relevant Group functions such as EQ, HR, Compliance, and Procurement.
Our CR Committee also reviews our CR strategy to ensure that it covers the issues material to our company. In doing so, we draw on regular input from our stakeholders as well as the results of materiality analyses. This committee also defines measures to enact our CR strategy and assesses the success of these efforts. In addition, it ensures that the initiatives of our business sectors, Group functions and subsidiaries align with our Group-wide CR strategy. The measures adopted by the CR Committee are implemented by our subject matter experts and by interdisciplinary project teams.
In 2019, the CR Committee met twice, focusing its attention on human rights, environmental and social standards across the supply chain, animal welfare, bioethics, and the evolution of our CR strategy and its implementation.
Understanding and improving the impacts of our operations
We do our best to mitigate the ethical, financial and legal risks of our business activities, thereby advocating for and ensuring our social license to operate. To this end, we have comprehensive structures and systems in place to ensure compliance with legal requirements, along with ethical, social and ecological standards, all of which are explained in detail in the individual sections of this report.