Our business operations intersect the interests of many people. The dialogue with relevant stakeholder groups is therefore of fundamental importance to us. These stakeholders include our employees, our business partners, the owner family, investors, regulatory agencies, associations, neighbors in the vicinity of our sites, and non-governmental organizations (NGOs). This continuous exchange enables us to demonstrate how we live our Values and to show the CR strategy we have chosen to pursue. This dialogue should also convey our esteem for our stakeholders. We strive to sustain and build trust and – wherever possible – harmonize divergent interests. Our primary goal is for Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany to ensure public acceptance.
We have contact with many groups in society through our daily work. The dialogues are mostly organized and held directly by the specialist departments at Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany. Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany also becomes involved by collaborating in industry-specific networks and participating in relevant specialist conventions.
During the 2011-2012 period, dialogues were held especially on the topics of access to health in developing health care systems and bioethics; the latter subject was primarily discussed by our Bioethics Advisory Panel (MBAP), which was founded in 2011. Moreover, we also initiated exchange with the relevant players in the public and private sectors. For example, in 2011 and 2012, Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany invited internationally renowned experts from science and NGOs to debate on the global challenges facing access to health. The dialogues focused on initiatives of the legal entities of the Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany that aim to improve access to health in developing health care systems; the dialogues also addressed the role of pricing in access to health in developing health care systems, the increasingly stricter requirements of government and society on pharmaceutical companies, and possible alliances and partnerships.
Discussion and information forums
We have set up discussion and information forums for local residents at our large sites. For example, with the public planning forum that we have held annually at our company headquarters in Darmstadt since 1994, we aim to provide residents with the opportunity to obtain information and discuss our development at the site. The “Fit for 2018” efficiency program was the focus of the discussions in 2011 and 2012. In addition, we discussed the dismantling, construction and renovation of buildings, participation in a city anniversary, sponsoring in the neighborhood, and vocational training at Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany.
In the context of expanding our biotech production facilities in Corsier-sur-Vevey, Switzerland, discussions were started with NGOs and the local authorities to ensure the greatest possible transparency during the entire planning, construction and completion stages. For construction, Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany committed to implementing high environmental and safety standards going beyond the statutory requirements. The annual forum was also continued after the construction project was completed. It provides an opportunity for regular discussions and reviews of the implementation of agreed measures and is scheduled to be held again in 2013. Because Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany presents the plans transparently and implements the agreed measures on schedule, trust was established, and the discussions were therefore positive. In 2012, we completed the agreed landscape design, which an independent expert rated as positive.
We survey our employees, customers and other relevant stakeholder groups regularly on how they view our performance with regard to corporate responsibility, and what expectations they have for systematic dialogue on the CR topics in focus. In total, 85 stakeholders participated in our online survey in summer 2012. In addition, 14 select experts were surveyed by phone. Besides our performance in terms of CR, the current relevance of CR topics and our last CR report were evaluated. The feedback was highly positive. The respondents gave Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany a rating of good or very good for CR performance in the area of product responsibility. The main areas of focus for this CR report were also derived from the survey results.
At our life science tools division, questions on the strategic direction of the division with regard to sustainability are also discussed with customers and representatives from NGOs and from science in the Sustainability Stakeholder Advisory Group (SSAG).
Lobbying and working with associations
Part of our stakeholder dialogue is also to participate actively in the political process, where we become involved and present our positions and viewpoints – either in direct dialogue with politicians or via our work with associations. Examples of important national and international industry associations in which we hold positions include:
- The German Chemical Industry Association (Verband der Chemischen Industrie – VCI)
- The European Chemical Industry Council (Conseil Européen des Fédérations de l’Industrie Chimique – )
- The German Association of Research-based Pharmaceutical Manufacturers (Verband Forschender Arzneimittelhersteller – )
- The European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations ()
- The International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers & Associations ()
- In October 2012, Karl-Ludwig Kley, Chairman of the Executive Board, was elected as President of the VCI. He is also the Vice President of the Federation of German Industry (Bundesverband der Deutschen Industrie e.V. – ).
- Stefan Oschmann, Executive Board Member responsible for the prescription medicines and Consumer Health divisions, is Vice President of the IFPMA and a Board Member of the VFA.
- Bernd Reckmann, Executive Board Member responsible for the Performance Materials and life science tools divisions, is Chairman of the Hessian Chapter of the VCI.
Furthermore, Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany is active in numerous charitable organizations, such as the Goethe Institute, the Remembrance, Responsibility and Future Foundation, and the World Environment Center (WEC). In addition, we participate in initiatives and projects whose other participants share our standards of entrepreneurial conduct. For instance, we support the Code of Responsible Conduct for Business. During the 2011-2012 period, intensely discussed topics in the scope of our work with associations included in particular the Responsible Care® initiative, the new chemicals legislation , and counterfeit medicines.