Creating a Culture of Citizenship Citizenship at Abbott
Local Global Citizenship Working Groups work to integrate citizenship strategy with core business strategy. Working groups in multiple countries include representatives from every branch of our business, and many team members have performance targets related to global citizenship.
Being a responsible corporate citizen involves more than health care innovation and outreach. Good citizenship also extends to the way we run our business and conduct ourselves as individuals. While our strategic priorities focus on the material impacts where our company can make the most unique and targeted contributions to society, we are equally focused on creating a culture of citizenship grounded in the foundational elements of sound business practice.
Because the sustainability of business and the sustainability of society are increasingly interdependent, good citizenship requires ingenuity and care in the way we treat colleagues and employees and deal with partners and suppliers. Our citizenship goals are integral to the quality of our involvement with communities throughout the world, and they are perhaps most evident in the high standards of ethics and compliance that we insist upon for ourselves and our partners.
Our citizenship strategy is built upon a strong foundation of stakeholder engagement, a commitment to transparency and a workplace environment that enables our employees around the world to achieve their greatest potential.
At Abbott, we constantly work to embed and integrate our citizenship strategy with our core business strategy. For several years, our cross-functional Global Citizenship Working Group has led integration efforts at the company, while driving transparency in the reporting of our economic, social and environmental performance. The team includes representatives from Corporate Purchasing, Global Environment, Health and Safety, the Office of Ethics and Compliance, Quality and Regulatory Affairs, Human Resources, Investor Relations, Government Affairs and Commercial Operations. The team also includes representation from key functions and country operations based outside our headquarters office. Many team members carry performance goals and targets related to citizenship issues.
In 2008, Abbott established four strategic priorities that, we believe, best align our citizenship activities and resources with our business operations. These are the material areas where our core business can have the most significant impact on society and the environment. During the past four years, we have worked diligently in pursuit of these priorities:
- Innovating for the Future – Using our core strengths as an innovator to make a difference to the health and well-being of people everywhere
- Enhancing Access – Breaking down the barriers that prevent many people worldwide from accessing the medicine and health care they need
- Supporting Patients and Consumers – Working to improve quality of life for our patients and consumers, while helping to educate health care professionals about the latest tools and treatments
- Safeguarding the Environment – Playing our part in addressing the global challenges of climate change and water scarcity while minimizing the environmental impacts of our products
These four priorities provide a clear road map for pursuing our responsibilities as a global citizen, yet are flexible enough to enable creativity and innovation across our diverse mix of businesses. As a new organization, we will explore how the company can create greater shared value with our stakeholders, using the power of the business to address relevant social issues in the countries where we operate. We believe that the scope and reach of Abbott’s operations, combined with our expertise and experience, provide us with the scale of impact and innovation to bring about a positive change to society's health and well-being.
The table below illustrates the key material issues across our four priorities. These priorities define the most critical interests and issues that inform our sustainability strategy and reporting. The below table considers all citizenship interests that drive long-term business value for us and are important to our stakeholders. Each year, we adjust the matrix to reflect changing stakeholder interests, and we report our progress against the resulting framework.
By using a materiality analysis to identify and prioritize interests, we are able to focus on the specific issues and questions that are most likely to impact the decisions or behaviors of our stakeholders. Although various stakeholder groups express different levels of concern regarding a specific issue, we have crafted our priorities based on multiple engagements with our most critical stakeholders, as well as key issues that are widely viewed as material to our industry sector. When we evaluate competing interests, we consider them in the context of overall business objectives and strategy, risks and company policies. To determine materiality, we also have factored in the amount of control we have over a specific topic area.
Moving forward, we will continue to evaluate multiple stakeholder interests impacting our business in order to identify and act upon both challenges and opportunities.
Building upon our global initiatives, we are partnering with governments, health care professional organizations and other local leaders to more effectively drive our citizenship priorities at the country level. Several of our country operations, such as Brazil (PDF), China (PDF), India (PDF), Ireland (PDF) and Italy (PDF), have formed their own local, cross-functional Citizenship Working Groups. Among other activities, these local groups have published country-specific citizenship reports targeting local stakeholders and developed public-private partnerships to help drive innovation, expand access and safeguard the environment in their countries.
For example, in 2011 our local Citizenship Working Group in China developed a five-year plan for expanding its citizenship programs and activities. Among other efforts, Abbott is working closely with the Chinese government to help expand access to health care in small towns and rural areas. Our China team also partners with a wide range of local suppliers to help them develop more effective compliance, ethics and quality assurance programs. Abbott also partners with Shanghai Children’s Medical Center and the humanitarian relief organization Project HOPE to advance the quality of nutritional care and support for pediatric patients. Additionally, our Chinese employees volunteer to provide hands-on science education to schoolchildren in 20 cities across the country. In 2012, Abbott published our second local citizenship report in China.
Similarly, in India, our local Citizenship Working Group is designed to address critical health care issues such as malnutrition, hunger and diabetes, which are especially acute in the country’s remote areas. Abbott nutrition scientists are working with the nonprofit organization PATH to further optimize its Ultra Rice fortification technology to help address the need for improved nutrition in India. Ultra Rice is a micronutrient delivery system that packs vitamins and minerals into rice-shaped grains, resulting in a product that is far more nutritious than traditional rice, yet nearly identical in smell, taste and texture. Abbott and PATH are working together to distribute this improved formulation of Ultra Rice to needy families and children through the Indian government’s food distribution system.
In 2011, we also conducted a series of training workshops in Brazil, China, India and Russia to expand our engagement with key local stakeholders. We also worked closely with our European affiliates to continue aligning citizenship and business objectives and to communicate more effectively with local audiences on progress toward those objectives.
Note: All data reflects Abbott activities in 2012. Some content has been adjusted to remove data specific to AbbVie, which became a separate company on Jan. 1, 2013.