Abbott Redefines Responsibility: It’s the “How"

By Tracey J. Noe, Senior Director, Global Citizenship and Policy, Abbott

Stakeholders often ask how Abbott defines “global citizenship” or “sustainability” or “corporate social responsibility.” We’ve been privileged to earn inclusion in the Dow Jones Sustainability Index for five consecutive years – demonstrating that citizenship issues are fully integrated with our business strategy. Our focus is continuously evolving from its roots in philanthropy, community relations, and environmental health and safety to a new philosophy we call Redefining Responsibility. A simple way to explain this concept is: “It’s the how.”

At Abbott, we believe how we go about operating our day-to-day business is just as important as what we produce, when we make it, and where we deliver it. Thus, Abbott is Redefining Responsibility in four key areas: How we innovate for the future; how we enhance access to medicine and health care; how we protect patients and consumers; and how we safeguard the environment.

Our primary contribution to society is developing innovative solutions to emerging health care needs.

In 2008, we launched nine major products across our range of businesses:  Pharmaceuticals, nutritionals, diagnostics, and medical devices. Abbott increasingly targets these innovations to meet the specific needs of developing markets – for example, by creating heat-stable formulations that make medicines easier to transport and dispense without refrigeration. This kind of innovation not only improves access to health care for people in warm climates with limited infrastructure – especially in the developing world – but also helps reduce our carbon footprint.

At the same time, we recognize that many people face significant barriers to accessing health care products and services.  That’s why we work directly with government health ministries in less-developed and middle-income countries to make our medicines available at fair, affordable prices. Additionally, Abbott and the Abbott Fund invested more than $460 million last year to support capacity-building partnerships, product donations, and patient assistance programs.

Underlying our commitment to expanding access is our obligation to ensure the safety of our ingredients, products, and processes. We hold our 20,000 suppliers around the world to the same rigorous quality and safety standards we employ internally – treating suppliers as an extension of our own company.

Finally, Abbott is Redefining Responsibility against the global challenges of climate change and water scarcity. Last year, we reduced carbon dioxide emissions and water use in our manufacturing operations by 15 percent (normalized to sales) through a variety of programs including co-generation, alternative energy installations, and system upgrades. Abbott also was the first Fortune 500 company to achieve carbon neutral status for our U.S. auto fleet. By expanding the use of hybrids and purchasing verified carbon offsets, we accomplished the equivalent of taking 12,000 cars off the road.

These are just a few examples of how Abbott is Redefining Responsibility across our diverse mix of businesses, functions, and geographies.  By focusing on the how – how we innovate to help reduce the global disease burden, how we work to increase health care access, how we manage our supply chain, and how we reduce our environmental impact – we believe we are making our company not only more sustainable, but worth sustaining.

We invite you to