Humanity is confronted with major global social issues such as climate change, aging populations, resource scarcity, and insufficient access to health in low- and middle-income countries.
We are aware that, as a global player, our business operations impact our environment as well as the people around us. But we believe that we can help address global challenges through our innovative, high-caliber high-tech products for the health care, life science and performance materials sectors, as well as through responsible governance.
Today's global megatrends present us with both risks as well as opportunities. Average life expectancy continues to increase worldwide while birth rates continue to fall, a situation that is reflected in our portfolio of health solutions such as fertility treatments and cancer research. An estimated 1.3 billion people have no access to effective and affordable health care. Through our Group-wide Access to Health strategy, we take a comprehensive approach toward addressing access barriers in low- and middle-income countries. As a market and technology leader in the global liquid crystals business, the company is driving the development of state-of-the-art displays, thereby benefiting from the digitization megatrend. In addition, we are also developing products for energy-saving lighting and photovoltaics that can help mitigate climate change and resource scarcity.
We are furthermore constantly working to minimize ethical, financial and legal risks. In our interactions with vendors and other business partners worldwide, we are dedicated to complying with statutory and ethical standards and have implemented the necessary structures and systems to do so. Our environmental management processes aim to minimize our environmental impacts, in particular at our production sites. On top of this, we offer fair and attractive working conditions for our approximately 39,000 employees.
Our is targeted to success, but equally respects the interests of employees, customers, investors, and society. It serves as the basis for our Corporate Responsibility (CR) strategy, which we reviewed and revised in 2014. Our entire range of CR activities can be summed up under the term "responsible governance", a concept that informs our day-to-day actions. At the end of 2014 we also examined our Group strategy and selected three strategic spheres of activity in which we particularly wish to engage. Our aim is to hone the company's competitive edge while helping to sustainably secure our future.
Corporate Responsibility at Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany
Through our Access to Health approach, which spans all our businesses, we aim to help improve sustainable access to high-quality health solutions for underserved populations and communities in low- and middle-income countries.
Stefan Oschmann, Vice Chairman of the Executive Board, has thus dedicated his two-year presidency of the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers & Associations (IFPMA) to accelerating access to high-quality health solutions for people in low- to middle-income countries.
A number of our innovative chemical and life science products contribute to environmental protection. We strive to continuously enhance the sustainability footprint of our products while helping our customers achieve their own sustainability goals.
Culture inspires people and opens up their minds to new possibilities. As a high-tech, research-based company, we therefore promote cultural initiatives worldwide and are engaged in educational projects - especially since education is key to making culture accessible.
Cultural promotion is a core element of our engagement in society. After all, culture nurtures characteristics that are essential to our business activities as a high-tech company: creativity, enthusiasm for new discoveries, and the courage to transcend boundaries. Our cultural engagement focuses on music, literature and education.
Responsible governance is the foundation of our operating business. We work to minimize ethical, financial and legal risks, thereby ensuring the company's acceptance within society. We take responsibility for our products, the environment, and people, especially for our employees and the communities in which we operate.
Our products serve people's current and future needs. To us, safety and ethics matter just as much as business success. In the manufacture of our products, we seek to impact the environment as little as possible. Safety, environmental protection and quality management are absolutely essential to this aim. We bolster our company’s ability to act by recruiting, developing and motivating talented employees. We strive to help society function better and aim to set the example for ethical conduct.
Our CR strategy is defined by the Executive Board, which also decides on CR objectives and CR reporting.
The Group-wide CR Committee steers the implementation of our corporate responsibility strategy and consists of representatives from the businesses as well as from relevant Group functions such as EQ, HR, Compliance, and Procurement. In 2013, Karl-Ludwig Kley, Executive Board Chairman, became Chairman of the CR Committee. Since January 2015, the Group function Public Affairs and Corporate Responsibility has been reporting to Executive Board Vice Chairman Stefan Oschmann. Since this time, Oschmann has also headed the CR Committee.
The CR Committee reviews the CR strategy to ensure that it covers the topics relevant to the company and that it addresses potential areas where action is needed. We strive to identify challenges promptly in order to minimize risks, but also to seize the business opportunities that arise from societal change. During the preparation of our CR reports, we engage our stakeholders and conduct materiality analyses to ensure that all the relevant topics are addressed. The committee’s tasks also include defining as well as regularly reviewing goals and measures that reflect our CR strategy. The committee ensures that initiatives of the businesses, Group functions, and subsidiaries are in line with our Group-wide CR strategy. Measures adopted by the committee are incorporated into our operations by line managers as well as by interdisciplinary project teams.
The CR Committee meets three times per year. In 2013 and 2014, the meetings primarily focused on CR strategy, access to health and human rights, as well as environmental and social standards along the supply chain, and the Design for Sustainability Program.