Human Rights

Human Rights

Human rights are an important element of our company’s commitment to conducting our business in a responsible manner.



Respect for human rights is a fundamental part of our mission to discover, develop and provide innovative products and services that save and improve lives around the world. We believe in the dignity of every human being, and recognize the international human rights principles as embodied in the United Nations Global Compact and as defined in the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights and its subsequent changes; the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights; the International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights; the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises; and the core labor standards set by the International Labor Organization.

Our Belief & Approach

We believe in the dignity of every human being and in respect for individual rights. Our company has a number of global policies that address how we protect human rights, including our global Public Policy on Human Rights, our Human Resources Policy, our Labor and Human Rights Policy, and our Code of Conduct. Our company’s Executive Committee is responsible for ensuring that governance processes are in place to provide oversight of the implementation and execution of these corporate policies.

Our Values and Standards outlines our responsibilities to our customers, our fellow employees, our suppliers, the communities where we live and work as well as those around the world that we serve, and our shareholders. These responsibilities represent the foundation of our company and what we stand for, and are the basis for our continued success. We seek to prevent or mitigate adverse human rights practices that are directly linked to our operations, products or services.

Our Commitment

Our commitment is formalized and manifested through the various policies highlighted above, including our Code of Conduct and our environmental governance and management systems. With respect to our internal operations, our policies and/or Code of Conduct state the following:

Labor Standards: We maintain labor standards, including hours, conditions, wages and overtime pay practices, that are in compliance with the laws of the jurisdictions in which we operate.

Health & Safety: We value the safety and security of every employee and are committed to maintaining healthy working conditions and strict safety practices. We have a zero-tolerance policy for actions that have the potential to threaten the safety of our employees or others in our workplace.

Freedom of Association: We respect the right of employees to associate freely, and to form, join or not join a labor union. All employees can communicate openly with management and each other regarding working conditions.

Child Labor, Forced Labor & Human Trafficking: We prohibit the use of child, forced or involuntary labor, including bonded labor, prison labor, slave labor or indentured labor, and any form of human trafficking.

Commercial Sex Acts: We recognize that the sex industry, even where lawful, can contribute to human trafficking and exploitation. We do not allow employees to engage in commercial sex acts.

Wages & Benefits: We compensate our employees in accordance with market practice in a manner that supports their ability to meet their basic needs. We also offer our employees the opportunity to improve their skills and capabilities.

Diversity & Equal Opportunities: We value diversity and strive to provide equal opportunities for all individuals.

Privacy: We respect individual privacy expectations and protect personal information that we collect, use and disclose in connection with our business.

Access to Health Care: We respect the right to good health for all people, and we are committed to leveraging our expertise to help remove the barriers that stand between patients and the health care they need.

Communities: We respect the human rights of our neighbors in those areas where we have operations or facilities.

Discrimination & Harassment: We do not tolerate discrimination or harassment based on a person’s race, color, gender, age, religion, national origin, ancestry, ethnicity, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, genetic information, citizenship status, marital status, military/veteran status or any other characteristic protected by law.

Compliance: We adhere to local laws. When local protection is insufficient or nonexistent, we observe the more demanding standards consistent with our Human Rights policy to the extent that those standards do not violate local laws and regulations.

International Standards: We respect international standards on Human Rights. As a signatory to the United Nations Global Compact (UNGC), we have publicly committed to upholding 10 internationally recognized principles, including those related to human rights.

Engagement with Suppliers

We use our Business Partner Code of Conduct to communicate our expectations to suppliers and external partners. The Code is based on our own Code of Conduct, as well as on the Pharmaceutical Supply Chain Initiative’s (PSCI’s) Pharmaceutical Industry Principles for Responsible Supply Chain Management and the Ten Principles of the United Nations Global Compact. We expect appropriate standards of conduct and respect for labor and human rights, consistent with our own, from our suppliers, contractors, vendors and partners. Our Business Partner Code of Conduct is communicated and made available in 26 languages to help ensure that our expectations are widely understood.

Raising Concerns

Our company’s Office of Ethics serves as a resource to raise concerns, including those regarding noncompliance with our Code of Conduct and company policies. Employees globally can contact the AdviceLine, which is run by an outside vendor. Employees can also contact the Office of Ethics directly and speak with an ethics officer or ombudsman. This program confidentially addresses employees’ concerns, without fear of retaliation. Learn more about the Office of Ethics.

Business partners who believe that an MSD employee, or anyone acting on behalf of our company, has engaged in illegal or otherwise improper conduct should report the matter promptly to our company.

To learn more, download our Business Partner Code of Conduct.