Sustainable and successful business practices
Werner Wenning, Chairman of the Board of Management of Bayer AG (until September 30, 2010)
Sustainable business practices have long been a prime goal of corporate policy in our Group – a policy that has also proven its worth in the global financial and economic crisis. This has brought us success in what has been a difficult environment.
Our strategy is focused on global megatrends and related issues such as health care, reliable food supplies, energy efficiency and climate protection. We align our product portfolio and our commitment to sustainability to these future-related topics by offering innovative strategies, products and solutions in the fields of health care, nutrition and high-quality materials. One of our key objectives is to balance economic growth with environmental and corporate social responsibility. We are also staunch supporters of the objectives of sustainable development and are committed to the principles of the UN Global Compact.
We are focused on making sustainability a reality on three levels – through our products and innovations, which are designed to benefit humankind and help improve people’s quality of life; through our business activities, by acting responsibly toward all our interest groups; and finally through our corporate social responsibility commitment, which includes around 300 projects worldwide and numerous sponsorship activities by our two foundations.
With this in mind, we built on our sustainability strategy last year and launched the integrated Bayer Sustainability Program. This focuses on three core areas – strong alliances for sustainable health care, innovative partnerships to provide more high-quality food, and new solutions for climate protection and resource use.
We are incorporating the company’s products and its employees’ know-how into eight international lighthouse projects to continue driving sustainable development forward in many parts of the world. These projects are a shining example of our commitment and a concrete illustration of the partnership principle.
Sustainability essentially means ensuring future viability. And our innovations play no small part of this. That’s why, as in the past, we will continue to make substantial investments in research and development this year and maintain our R&D budget at a record €2.9 billion.
The principles of sustainable development are also firmly established in our Corporate Compliance Policy, a set of rules that makes legal compliance and Responsible Care mandatory for every Bayer employee. We have reinforced this by arranging for non-compliance with our policy to affect the variable remuneration component for our senior management, the Global Leadership Circle.
We launched a Group-wide initiative on process and plant safety at the start of 2010 with the goal of driving forward our Bayer systems and our commitment to safety in an even more targeted way. We set out the key principles and organizational structures in the Group Directive on Process and Plant Safety.
A further top priority for us is maintaining diversity in our staffing, including equal opportunities for men and women. We have continuously increased the percentage of women in senior management positions in the last few years, for example. Yet the current figure of 5.5 percent means we still have some way to go. Specialist and personal skills and professional experience are crucial in the staff selection process, and a quota system would run counter to this. That’s why we remain committed to targeted programs to promote women. By appointing a woman as CEO of Bayer CropScience, we have sent a clear signal that women at Bayer can reach top positions.
We also expect sustainable development from our suppliers. In 2009, we therefore adopted and communicated our Supplier Code of Conduct. This details the criteria according to which we evaluate and select suppliers.
We place particular emphasis on our foundation activities. The Bayer Science & Education Foundation, for example, not only promotes projects to improve science teaching in schools, it also supports students and recognizes scientists for outstanding research work.
Our commitment has been rewarded through numerous awards and excellent ratings by independent institutions. For example, in 2009 we were included in the Carbon Disclosure Leadership Index as the world’s best company based on our transparent reporting. Bayer is also listed in the Dow Jones Sustainability World Index, one of the leading global sustainability indexes.
All of this underlines the fact that we want to achieve sustainability in everything that we do. Our contributions are many and varied, yet they serve a single goal, as expressed by our mission statement: “Science For A Better Life.”