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.
Our company believes in the dignity of every human being and recognizes the international human rights principles 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 on Civil and Political Rights, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises and the core labor standards set out by the International Labor Organization.
We take our responsibility to respect human rights seriously. We strive to detect and prevent labor and human rights abuses in our own operations and in our supply chain. For this reason, respect for human rights is embedded in our company’s own Code of Conduct, Our Values & Standards, and many of our company’s corporate polices, including our Global Human Resources Policy, Labor & Human Rights Policy, Environmental, Health & Safety Policy and Information Management & Protection Policy, as well as our Procurement & Supplier Relations Policy.
Respecting human rights in our own operations
Within our own operations, we work to meet our responsibility to respect human rights by:
- Not using forced, bonded or indentured labor
- Not using child labor
- Not engaging in any form of human trafficking (modern slavery)
- Not allowing employees to engage in commercial sex acts while on company travel
- Not using misleading or fraudulent recruitment practices or charging recruiting fees
- Not withholding employee’s identity or immigration documents (e.g., passports, etc.)
- Not tolerating any form of discrimination or harassment
- Not tolerating any actions that have the potential to threaten safety
- Providing a safe and secure workplace, free from harsh and inhumane treatment
- Prohibiting behaviors that are sexual, coercive, threatening, abusive or exploitative
- Recognizing, as far as legally possible, the rights of employees to associate freely including the right to form, join labor unions or refrain from doing so
- Enabling open communication with management regarding working conditions
- Compensating employees competitively relative to others in our industry
- Complying with applicable wage, work hours, overtime and benefits laws
- Valuing diversity and striving to provide equal opportunity for all employees
- Respecting individual privacy rights and protecting personal information
In addition, we foster an environment where employees feel safe to speak up.
If an employee sees or suspects improper, unethical or illegal activity, they are encouraged to talk to their manager, another company resource (e.g., Compliance, Legal or Human Resources) or, where permitted by law, “Speak Up at msdethics.com” to address their questions or concerns confidentially without fear of retaliation.
Respecting human rights in our supply chain
We expect appropriate standards of conduct and respect for human rights, consistent with our own, from our suppliers, contractors, vendors and external partners. We are committed to doing business with those that share our commitment to human rights and to the principles outlined in our Business Partner Code of Conduct.
Our practices are informed and guided by the Pharmaceutical Supply Chain Initiative’s (PSCI) Pharmaceutical Industry Principles for Responsible Supply Chain Management which set the standard for ethics, labor, health, safety and the environment for our industry. Within our supply chain, we work to meet our responsibility to respect human rights by:
Selecting suppliers that are socially responsible and who share our company’s commitment to ethics and integrity. We strive obtain the goods and services we need to further our mission in a way that is lawful, efficient and fair.
Setting and communicating our expectations of suppliers. We use our Business Partner Code of Conduct to communicate our expectations for Human Rights, Labor & Employment, Health, Safety & Environment and Ethical Business Practices. We make it available in 26 languages.
Conducting appropriate due diligence and determining the risks—including those related to human rights, prior to entering a business relationship with a supplier—to determine that they can meet all our company’s expectations.
Seeking commitment from suppliers to respect and abide by the principles set forth in our company’s Business Partner Code of Conduct through our contracts and agreements. Our standard contract templates contain an ethical business practice compliance clause.
Performing Labor & Human Rights (LHR) Audits and Environmental Health & Safety (EHS) Audits at selected supplier facilities to verify their compliance with our company’s expectations, and by working with them to address identified compliance gaps in a responsible manner. In 2018, we performed over 90 LHR Audits.
Managing and monitoring
Managing and monitoring suppliers to ensure that they continue to meet our company’s expectations. We hold them accountable for meeting their contractual obligations and take appropriate action to address those that do not. Termination clauses are included in contracts.
Using our Third-Party Risk Committee to oversee the management of risks presented by suppliers. The Committee is chaired by our senior vice president for Procurement and is composed of management representatives from multiple functions, including Human Resources, Health & Safety, Corporate Responsibility, Procurement and Compliance.
Implementing procedures to ensure responsible sourcing of minerals. As stated in our Conflict Minerals Policy, we endeavor to avoid the purchase of minerals (e.g., tin, tantalum, tungsten and gold) that directly or indirectly finance or benefit armed groups or perpetrators of serious human rights abuses.
Learn more about how we work with external suppliers.