Sustainability and corporate social responsibility (CSR) strategies have shown huge success across industries. The benefits include attracting customers (a 2015 Nielsen survey showed 66% people will pay more for sustainable brands, up from 55% in 2014 and 50% in 2013); attracting and retaining employees; reducing business costs by improving process and supply chain efficiency; and distinguishing your company above competition.

As an industry whose business outputs are intended to save and improve lives, the pharmaceutical industry is well-placed to drive positive social change, through improving access to healthcare, collaborating through networks, and partnering with health and medical related charities. Many pharmaceutical companies have already taken inspiring steps in the right direction:

  • Astellas Pharma Europe have partnered with the Fistula Foundation to develop ‘Action on Fistula’. The programme has since provided life-changing surgery to more than 2,900 women, trained six fistula surgeons, and improved access to services with six treatment centres enrolled
  • Eisai’s ‘Around the Kitchen Table’ cookbook recently won the ABPI Award for Excellence in Corporate Social Responsibility. It contains over 50 recipes and dietary information for those with cancer who are undergoing chemotherapy
  • The Merck Foundation has partnered with the Tanzanian government to focus on empowering infertile women through access to information, awareness, health, and economic empowerment across the country through the firm's ‘Merck More Than A Mother’ campaign

But what does all this mean to businesses? Put simply, sustainability and CSR initiatives have a significant positive impact on a company’s profile. They impact internal culture and processes, business partnerships and collaborations, wider social and environmental issues, and ultimately a company’s reputation in the eyes of the public, its customers and client base. Most importantly, these things in combination can bring competitive advantage; one with longevity and integrity.

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