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The Editors blog

An inside look at what’s happening within the pharma industry and across the PMGroup from the PMLiVE editorial team

Effort and impact: pharma CSR

Measuring the results of corporate social responsibility

If the notion of corporate social responsibility (CSR) was widely denounced as mere window-dressing when it first entered business terminology in the 1960s and 70s, it has since matured into a much more defined and integral pillar in most companies' business models.

Whether this involves a company's efforts to reduce its carbon emissions and water consumption, its support for impoverished communities or the provision of much needed vaccines to sub-Saharan Africa, CSR is now taken much more seriously.

The pharmaceutical industry is no different. For example, the UK arm of Boehringer Ingelheim has been organising fundraising activities for the children's charity Barnardo's since 2001; GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) has been running the African Malaria Partnership; and Johnson & Johnson has developed its Earthwards process in order to reduce its overall environmental impact.

But such efforts, regardless of how important and commendable, have been dealt a blow following the recent release of Vertigo Ventures' VV-Good Index, which looked not at reports of sustainable efforts within the industry, but rather the evidence of impact of specific policies.

The report ranked the 10 largest global pharmaceutical companies according to the impact of their environmental, social and financial performance. In first place was Merck, followed by GSK, J&J, Abbott, Bayer, AstraZeneca, Novartis, Sanofi, Roche and then Pfizer.

However, Vertigo Ventures said their overall impact remained low, suggesting impact reporting in the sector still has a long way to go.

But the point to note here is not that industry's efforts are having little impact, but that it just isn't doing enough to follow up on these actions to determine the level of impact it is having.

We live in a world obsessed with big data and market research, and this industry knows instinctively how to track results and determine efficacy, so apply this practice to CSR. We all know the significance of the threats of global warming and we all recognise the ethical necessity of helping those that need it most, but these actions need to be measured and assessed too!

This blog post first appeared as the Editor's comment in PME May 2013

Article by
David Stone

is editor of PME and Communiqué

23rd May 2013

From: Marketing

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