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 in all the countries where we operate. In view of the dynamic environment of change across all regions with respect to our social license to operate, we pay special attention to regional aspects.
Safety of our products
The safety of our products is at the core of our sustainability efforts. When used properly, they must pose no risk to customers, patients, consumers, or the environment. We regularly examine safety throughout the product’s entire life cycle and continuously take steps to minimize risks. We provide patients, consumers, and customers with extensive informational material so that they can use our products in a safe, responsible, and proper manner.
Chemical product safety is all about protecting human health and the environment from negative impacts resulting from the use of chemical products throughout their entire life cycle. We support developments related to the European Green Deal and are preparing to implement the European Commission’s Chemicals Strategy for Sustainability in our company. During the import, manufacture, and commercialization of our products, we provide relevant information to our customers and the public. This helps them understand the hazards, how to mitigate risks, and how to use the products safely, in line with local and regional regulatory requirements. We have automated and standardized most of our hazard communication processes within our business sectors. Information is communicated via the pertinent digital channels, the Safety Data Sheets, and the labels of our products.
Throughout the entire life cycle of our medicines, we provide patients and physicians with up-to-date safety information based on benefit-risk evaluations. Patient safety is a top priority in everything we do. To this end, company experts process safety-relevant information from various sources such as clinical trials, adverse reaction reports, and medical and scientific literature. Our Global Patient Safety unit continuously monitors and evaluates the safety and benefit-risk ratio of our pharmaceutical products worldwide (pharmacovigilance). Our Medical Safety and Ethics Board oversees the safety and benefit-risk assessments of all our commercialized products and investigational drugs worldwide. For the safety of patients, we have established a global pharmacovigilance system that we are always working to enhance.
Attractive workplace for our employees
Our employees contribute to groundbreaking progress in science and technology across the world. They are the basis of our success and therefore play a central role in our responsible business conduct. In accordance with our values, we live a culture of mutual esteem and respect. We are dedicated to upholding international social and labor standards. These are stipulated in our Social and Labor Standards Policy, which complements our Human Rights Charter and our Code of Conduct. This policy is the foundation for fair and open interactions with our employees.
To remain successful going forward, we want to attract people to our company who contribute their curiosity, courage, and spirit of invention. We therefore place a strategic focus on employee development, leadership, and performance management. Furthermore, we strive to foster diversity among our employees (more information can be found under “People”).
Supporting relevant responsible governance initiatives
As a participant in the United Nations Global Compact, we have committed ourselves to 10 principles based on key UN conventions regarding human rights, labor standards, environmental protection, and anti-corruption. We actively support the implementation of the principles within our sphere of influence and regularly communicate on our progress. We follow the guidelines of the Responsible Care® Global Charter, which is an initiative of the International Council of Chemical Associations (ICCA). Responsible Care® aims to help the chemical industry enhance its environmental, health, and safety performance. We are also a member of the Chemie3 initiative in Germany, a collaboration between the German Chemical Industry Association (VCI), the German Employers’ Federation of the Chemical Industry (BAVC), and the German Mining, Chemical, and Energy Industrial Union (IG BCE). This globally unique alliance seeks to make sustainability a core part of the chemical industry’s guiding principles and to drive the sector’s position within the German economy as a key contributor to sustainable development. In implementing sustainability in our business, the frequent dialogue with our various stakeholders is very important to us. These stakeholders include employees, business associates, the Merck family, investors, regulatory agencies, industry associations, and non-governmental organizations (NGOs). This continuous exchange creates transparency and clearly demonstrates how we live our values.
Comprehensive environmental management system
Defining our principles and strategies for environmental stewardship, health and safety (EHS), our Group EHS Policy is an integral part of our EHS management system, which undergoes an external ISO 14001 audit every year. At all our sites, local EHS managers are in charge of operational environmental protection. Because our business is constantly evolving, we conduct internal audits to review our environmental management system and also have external audits regularly performed to confirm that ISO 14001 requirements are still being met. In 2020, we obtained an ISO 14001 group certificate for the 11th consecutive year, which covers 92 sites around the world.
* The contents of this chapter or section are voluntary and therefore not audited. However, our auditor has read the text critically.