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Vikas Vij headshot

Merck’s Commitment to Transparency and Ethics Could Help Win Stakeholders’ Trust

By Vikas Vij

Companies committed to corporate responsibility must recognize that a commitment to transparency in business and uncompromising ethical values are necessary to ensure a responsible corporate enterprise.

MSD (known as Merck within the U.S. and Canada) has published its 2017/2018 Global Corporate Responsibility report, which reflects the values of transparency and ethics that the company says it applies worldwide, wherever it operates its business.

Transparent Pricing and Disclosure Practices

MSD insists that it is making its vaccines and medicines more affordable and accessible by applying responsible pricing practices. To help consumers understand the company’s pricing practices, in 2017 the company’s U.S. division began disclosing information related to price increases for its various pharmaceuticals.

The company insists it is proactively offering information to stakeholders about its business and how it operates, in order to help people make informed choices about their interactions with the company and its products.

The company discloses information through its financial disclosures (such as the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission), annual corporate responsibility report, and participation in the CDP (formerly the Carbon Disclosure Project), apart from disclosures through the media.  

MSD also discloses information in areas such as its clinical trials, payments to medical professionals, grants to scientific and medical organizations, corporate political advocacy and contributions, post-marketing requirements, and philanthropic grants and contributions.

Code of Conduct

MSD says it has trained its employees in ethics and compliance in order to build a robust culture, and its corporate policies and Code of Conduct are tailored to meet the requirements of various employee groups within the organization. The company requires all employees to complete their assigned training courses in ethics and compliance.

In 2017, MSD published the fourth edition of its Code of Conduct (“Our Values and Standards”), which applies to all employees globally, and is available in 23 languages. An interactive Code of Conduct website has been set up, which enables employees to ask questions, raise any concerns, and search for relevant policies.

The website includes resources and tools to help employees practice the company’s core values of Patients First, Respect for People, Ethics & Integrity, and Innovation and Scientific Excellence in every action and every decision.

Linking Ethics to Performance

MSD believes that integrity and ethics are critical leadership competencies, and the company evaluates annual performance of employees including an assessment of these competencies. The company claims employee advancement opportunities within MSD are influenced by their level of commitment to ethics and integrity.

Apart from upholding rigorous ethical standards in its internal operations, MSD says it requires similar standards from across its supply chain. The company has a dedicated Business Partner Code of Conduct, which is based on its own Code of Conduct as well as industry principles and the Principles of the UN Global Compact.

Upholding the Values of Privacy

MSD says it is committed to a comprehensive global privacy program to promote the accountability of the organization regarding issues of privacy, data protection and data governance across its business as well as its partners and suppliers.

Data related to patients, employees, physicians, veterinarians and other medical professionals, business partners, customers, and other stakeholders is used as part of the company’s global research-based businesses, and the company maintains it pays utmost regard to their privacy.  

MSD was the world’s first company to obtain regulatory approval in the EU for Binding Corporate Rules (BCRs).

“There is increasing interest and a growing belief that a company’s ethical impact can serve as a barometer for its value and long-term sustainability. We welcome this focus,” said Kenneth C. Frazier, Chairman and CEO, in his letter to the shareholders. “We also reiterate our support for the 10 universally accepted principles of the UN Global Compact.”

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Image Credit: MSD  

Vikas Vij headshot

Vikas is an MBA with 25 years of managerial and entrepreneurial experience. He is the author of “The Power of Money” (Scholars, 2003), a book that presents a revolutionary monetary economic theory on poverty alleviation in the developing world. Vikas runs a digital content development company, and personally loves to write on global sustainability issues.

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