A version of this piece was originally published on the CSR Reporting Blog.
I was just reading a post from the indefatigable Barbara Kimmel Brooks, the key mover and shaker behind Trust in America, an organization that is leading some truly inspiring work about the importance of trust in business. The post is called The Hard Costs of Low Trust. It provides some startling statistics about the ways in which lack of trust can be so very costly to a business, as well as the opportunity for profitable growth that high trust can bring.
The reason the post by Barbara Kimmel Brooks resonated so specifically with me is that, yesterday GSK Romania launched its second corporate responsibility report covering its business in 2012, and the title is “Valuing your Trust.”
This is the same title as the first report of GSK Romania, published last year. GSK Romania is my client and I worked on both the first report and this current one. In preparation for the 2012 report, I asked the GM of GSK Romania, Pascal Prigent, if we should change the title and use another theme more relevant to the current GSK activities and recent sustainability performance in Romania. “No,” he said. “Trust is something that lasts longer than a year or the life of one report. ” So, Valuing your Trust won the day.
In fact, as I have come to know GSK in Romania, I can appreciate both the ways in which the company works in order to engender trust, and the necessity of doing so in the healthcare climate in Romania.
Romania has some of the most critical healthcare challenges in all of Europe including the highest infant mortality rate and some of the highest rates of chronic disease in Europe. Even a simple thing such as oral health, improved by daily brushing of your teeth, is not widespread in some parts of Romania, due to lack of education and awareness.
A company such as GSK may have important global priorities addressing some of the world’s most serious healthcare challenges (GSK is the best performing company in the Access to Medicine Index 2012), but the local challenges faced by the Romanian subsidiary are no less important, and yes, even in Europe, there is much to be done. The challenge is not about selling more drugs. The challenge is to help support the healthcare infrastructure, so that the people get healthier, live better, and build a strong economy in which healthcare has a respected place. Enhancing access to the medicines that people need in an equitable, service-oriented healthcare system strengthens the economy as well as the people.
GSK’s local engagement in Romania is about continuing to build trust in a positive way with all local stakeholders in order to be able to continue contributing to this shared objective. If that happens, GSK Romania will gain a positive outcome: better business. The focus is on patients. Invest in them and everyone benefits. Everyone I have spoken to in GSK Romania – that’s all the senior management and tens of managers in their teams – have a passion for this higher purpose. They both value trust and understand the value of trust.
GSK Romania employs around 1,000 people in Romania, in pharma and consumer health businesses, supported by a GSK distribution company, Europharm Distribution, and a manufacturing plant in Brasov. GSK Romania launched this second report with the objective of transparently disclosing its material sustainability performance in 2012. It’s a G4 CORE level report, one of the first in the world –I count less than 15 published G4 CORE level reports to date. The report was written to align with GSK’s global reporting (see GSK plc’s global report for 2012 here) and is structured accordingly into four main narrative sections: health for all, our behavior, our people, our planet, and supplemented by sections on the state of healthcare in Romania, governance and stakeholder engagement.As part of the materiality process, we held a stakeholder engagement roundtable dialogue, to which several healthcare experts representing government, NGOs, community partners, media and more were invited for open discussions about what’s important to them and their expectations of GSK Romania. Although my Romanian is not what it could be (I haven’t even learned the Romania for “ice-cream” yet!), I was able to participate a little, observe passionate discussions and hear summaries in English. Both participants and the GSK participating managers (who agreed to this process not without some trepidation) agree that this had been a truly valuable exchange and important insights were gained which are helpful for GSK’s strategy going forward.
Some stories from GSK Romania’s report this year:
- GSK products reached 20 million consumers and patients in Romania.
- Every day, almost 3,000 doses of GSK vaccines were delivered to Romanians to protect their health.
- 62 percent of the workforce were women and 62 percent of managers were women.
- GSK moved to a direct distribution system to pharmacies, in order to increase availability of medicines, with results after one year showing that instances of out-of-stock reduced from 75 percent to 38 percent, and an increase of 23 percent in pharmacies that did not experience a single out-of-stock during a 12 month period.
- GSK partnered with the Ministry of Health and the Foreign Investors council and led a campaign to address one of the most serious challenges for healthcare in Romania: the migration of healthcare professionals out of Romania. Over 14,000 doctors have left Romania to work abroad since 2007. GSK led the development and launch of the campaign “My profession: Doctor in Romania” to focus public attention on the issues and help retain doctors in Romania.
- GSK Romania partnered with the Romanian Paediatric Society to launch a program to support child healthcare focused nutrition, safety and vaccination.
- GSK published its entire set of ethical policies online in a new Ethical Platform section on the GSK Romania website. Absolute transparency in the way GSK works is now available for all.
- In 2012, GSK Romania advanced two creative and highly effective patient advocacy campaigns to support patients with HIV and lupus.
- Following the announcement to close GSK’s manufacturing plant in Brasov by 2015, GSK has put plans in place to support all of the factory’s 243 employees and help them through this transition and take up other options.
- As a healthcare company, GSK Romania invests in the health of its own employees and launched a new Partnership for Prevention health program so that employees can feel better, do more and live longer.
- GSK Romania reduced energy consumption relative to business growth and achieved a 5 percent absolute reduction in water consumption. 100 percent of waste is recycled or incinerated – none is sent to landfill.
Take a look at Valuing your Trust. Please give feedback.
In the meantime, catch Pascal Prigent, GM GSK Romania, talking about the report: