Our business activities converge with the interests of many people, which is why engaging with our various stakeholders is particularly important to us. Through this dialogue, we communicate our decisions and actions transparently so as to ensure our social license to operate. We aim to unite divergent interests as far as possible as well as build and sustain trust.
Dialogue at various levels
Our key stakeholders include our employees, customers and business partners, patients, the Merck family as the majority owner of our company, shareholdersand our suppliers. We maintain continuous contact with these groups through a variety of channels, such as stakeholder surveys, issue-specific dialogues, roundtable discussions, and information forums. We also engage stakeholders through our advocacy work and industry coalitions.
We regularly conduct surveys among our employees and customers. We want to know which issues they consider to be of importance to our company today and tomorrow, and how they rate our performance in addressing the individual areas. We also seek to understand their expectations of us as a responsible company.
In 2019, we conducted a Group-wide employee survey in 22 languages. Around 47,000 employees took part, resulting in a response rate of 88%. We also conducted a survey among our Life Science customers to understand which of our material topics are most important to them.
Roundtables and informational forums
At our major sites, we conduct roundtable discussions and informational forums for local residents. Since 1994, we have been holding an annual public planning forum in Darmstadt (Germany) to discuss the development of our site with members of the city council, local authorities and the community. In 2019, the forum focused on our investments at the site, such as the new Performance Materials Research Center or the new daycare center, which will both be completed in 2020.
Our business operations in Healthcare, Life Science and Performance Materials intersect the interests of various societal groups, with whom we engage via questionnaires, workshops and seminars, as well as at major conferences. Our departments organize these exchanges at the local, national and international level, depending on the topic and degree of importance. Beyond this, we are also involved in industry networks and participate in symposia. In 2019, we took part in numerous dialogues on material topics with our stakeholders. These include:
- Bioethics: In May 2019, we hosted a “Dialogue on Ethics of Genome Editing” for policymakers. 45 political stakeholders engaged in an open debate on the topic.
- Human rights: We participate in the Business & Human Rights Peer Learning Group of the German Global Compact Network. Within this group, we share lessons learned as well as successes in implementing human rights due diligence. Moreover, in 2019, we included external stakeholders such as trade unions, industry associations and representatives of potentially impacted groups in our work to update our Human Rights Charter.
- Health for all: In 2019, we participated in numerous events with global reach or relevance in order to participate in and advance global health discussions.
Advocacy groups and industry coalitions
We actively participate in the political process and advocate our views by engaging policy makers in a direct dialogue and by working with industry coalitions. Below are several examples of major national and international industry associations of which we are members and where we hold positions:
- German Chemical Industry Association e. V. (VCI)
- European Chemical Industry Council (Cefic)
- German Association of Research-based Pharmaceutical Manufacturers e. V. (vfa)
- International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers & Associations (IFPMA)
Examples of positions held by members of our Executive Board include:
Stefan Oschmann, Executive Board Chairman and CEO:
- European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (EFPIA), President (until 30 June 2019)
- German Chemical Industry Association e. V. (VCI), Member of the Executive Committee
- National Academy of Science and Engineering (acatech), Member of the Executive Committee
Udit Batra, Executive Board member and CEO Life Science:
- Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce, Member of the Board
- Massachusetts High Technology Council (MHTC), Chairman
- Massachusetts Biotechnology Council, Member of the Board
- University of Delaware, Department of Chemical Engineering, Member of the Advisory Council
- Princeton University, Department of Chemical Engineering, Member of the Advisory Council
Kai Beckmann, Executive Board member and CEO Performance Materials:
- German Federation of Chemical Employers’ Associations (BAVC), President
- Fraunhofer Institute for Computer Graphics Research (IGD), Chairman of the Advisory Board
- Confederation of German Employers’ Associations (BDA), Vice President
Belén Garijo, Executive Board member and CEO Healthcare:
- Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), Board member
Marcus Kuhnert, Executive Board member and Chief Financial Officer:
- German Chemical Industry Association e. V. (VCI), Vice Chairman of the Hessian Chapter
Involvement in initiatives
We collaborate with an array of civic organizations, such as the Goethe-Institut and the World Environment Center (WEC). In addition, for many years we worked successfully with The Joint Conference Church and Development (GKKE) in Germany and will continue the dialogue and collaboration with a number of other church representatives and organizations. Furthermore, we are also involved in initiatives and projects that share our interpretation of responsible entrepreneurial conduct. This is why we support, for instance, the Code of Responsible Conduct for Business and are members of the Chemie³ and Responsible Care® initiatives.
In 2019, our Executive Board approved the new Sponsorships & Memberships Policy, which stipulates how political contributions are to be handled. Pursuant to the policy, we will not transfer any value to political parties or related political organizations, initiatives serving the goals of a political party or candidates of any public office. Furthermore, we will not transfer value to support, defeat or influence the election of a representative in a public office or candidate for public office. Generally speaking, political action committees (PACs) exist in the United States through which our employees can donate money to support political candidates and organizations. Such donations are not made by or on behalf of the company. These indirect and voluntary donations are reported to the U.S. Federal Election Commission and publicly disclosed.