6 Engaging and partnering with our stakeholders for sustainable patient value creation
6 Engaging and partnering with our stakeholders for sustainable patient value creation
Our 2019 materiality assessment
We are acutely aware of the challenges, both environmental and social, that society is facing today. As a company, we are convinced that we have a role to play in providing solutions beyond our economic contribution. We know that to maximize our impact and contribute to a sustainable future for all, we must focus on challenges where our expertise is needed to drive a meaningful and positive change. This year we consulted key stakeholders and our employees to identify how best to maximize our societal contribution while ensuring we continue to develop our business successfully. This materiality assessment fulfils the requirements of the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI).
Our 2019 materiality matrix identifies nine material topics, prioritized by their relevance to UCB current and future success and by the level of concern expressed by external stakeholders. While they largely remain the same as in previous materiality assessments, the richness of the dialogue conducted through qualitative interviews has provided new depth and detail. Out of a total of nine material topics, UCB has further defined four priority pillars and four foundational topics. These priority pillars are consistent with our purpose, our ambition for patients and with UCB expertise in healthcare.
One additional topic – the use of new technologies and data analytics to increase patient value generation and measure impact – was also ranked high during the assessment. This topic is addressed by the on-going UCB digital business transformation process.
Our priority pillars are:
Innovation in R&D
Innovate to bring differentiated solutions with unique outcomes that help specific patients achieve their life goals and that create the best individual experience for them.Read more
Access to medicines
Ensure access to UCB solutions to all patients who need them in a way which is viable for patients, for society and for UCB.Read more
Employees’ health, safety and well-being*
Offer UCB employees access to comprehensive support for health, safety and well-being.Read more
Minimize our environmental footprint across our entire value chain.Read more
* As our objective is to create for our employees an environment that is fulfilling, healthy and safe, we have integrated safety alongside health and well-being in this priority pillar.
We continue to address and monitor four foundational topics:
- Employee development: offer UCB employees the best opportunities to develop their knowledge and skills,
- Diversity and Inclusion: inspire a culture of inclusion by embracing diverse talents, motivating our employees and leveraging diversity of thoughts and experience to create value for patients,
- Ethical business practices: promote and embrace ethical behavior across the organization and
- Healthcare system strengthening in low-and-medium income countries (LMIC): contribute to improving healthcare-related infrastructure and services in low-and-medium income countries.
We are setting long-term goals and will review our performance for each of our four priority pillars annually. As 2019 was a year of transition – aligning our colleagues, organization and business practices with this approach – we are continuing to report on the same indicators as 2018, following the GRI framework. This already includes our performance for “Innovation in R&D” and “Environmental footprint”.
We will also continue in the future to report on the way we conduct business ethically and responsibly and foster an inclusive and diverse organization.
Our methodology and process for materiality assessment
This year, we refined our process by conducting a thorough analysis of published evidence on materiality topics relevant to our industry and by interviewing external stakeholders and employees.
The literature analysis phase was followed by 45 qualitative interviews with UCB employees. This interview process allowed us to gather insight from our Executive Committee members, from leaders in the organization and from younger employees who are at early stages in their career. We also conducted interviews with 30 external stakeholders about the issues that most concerned them. The 30 interviewees included patients and representatives from patient organizations, advisors and investors, representatives from non-governmental organizations, foundations and members of academia, members of governments, administrations and multilateral organizations.
As a final step, we qualitatively coded all interviews. Coding refers to identifying concepts, themes and ideas across data and finding relationships between them. The topics that emerged were also mapped against the list of top UCB risks identified through the Enterprise Risk Management Update process in 2019.
To refine our assessment of external stakeholder concern, we analyzed three additional sources:
- SASB Disclosure Topics for Biotechnology and Pharmaceuticals Industries,
- GRI Topics of Stakeholder Concern for Pharmaceuticals, Biotechnology and Life Sciences Industry and
- World Economic Forum’s Global Risks Report.
During the summer of 2019, we also engaged 150 colleagues in Belgium, the U.S., Germany, the U.K., China, Japan and Mexico, using a design thinking approach to identify concrete solutions that could be implemented to address our priority topics. This early engagement has already facilitated the development of concrete plans to address our four priority pillars.
Engaging with industry associations
We believe no one can win the fight against diseases on their own. We aim to connect with our peers to increase our impact.
In June of 2019, we were proud to have Jean-Christophe Tellier, UCB CEO, appointed as President of the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (EFPIA). This presidency offers a great opportunity to connect with all stakeholders and form a shared vision on “connecting healthcare”.
UCB is a member of other industry associations around the world including the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America in the U.S., (Jean-Christophe Tellier, CEO, PhRMA Board Member), the Biotechnology Innovation Organization (Charl van Zyl, EVP, BIO Board Member), the R&D-based Pharmaceutical Association Committee (RDPAC, China), the Japan Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association (JPMA, Japan), and the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers and Associations (IFPMA). UCB is also a member of various local chambers of commerce, healthcare stakeholder associations, and initiatives for sustainable development. Being a Belgian company, UCB is on the board of several Belgian trade associations and organizations including the Walloon Excellence in Lifesciences and Biotechnology (WelBio) where Jean-Christophe Tellier serves as an active board member. Additionally, together with Access Accelerated we are contributing towards the UN SDG target to reduce premature deaths from non-communicable diseases by 2030.
UCB also participates in several of international and regional associations that connect stakeholders within healthcare to collaborate on key topics impacting our industry.
Partnering to deliver our ambition for patients
UCB’s progression into the “Accelerate and Expand” phase has marked a renewed commitment to partnering as a key driver of our continued success. This is aligned with one of our two commitments to United Nations Sustainable Development Goals to contribute to SDG#17 Partnership for the Goals.
Today our shared and connected approach to innovation through partnerships spans early discovery and development through to commercialization:
- To identify new targets, access innovation, platforms and acquire new technologies (e.g. Q-State, Verily),
- To research and develop novel treatments; from early development to launch, as with our partnerships with Amgen, Biogen and Sanofi,
- To commercialize and bring products to patients – as demonstrated this year in our partnership with CinKate,
- To contribute to addressing public health challenges, especially in areas of unmet medical need. We participate in the innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI) and Aetionomy and
- To optimize our ability to bring solutions to patients, examples of the importance of our partnerships within manufacturing and supply can be found in this report.
Thanks to several well-established and long-standing partnerships, like our relationship with Amgen for Evenity®, UCB has been able to grow, refine and develop our expertise at partnering, and ultimately bring to patients innovative and unique approach to help them live their best lives.