What assures? This is a question that is not easily answered in a single sentence. Assurance can have a different meaning depending on the specific stakeholder or organisation.
Some types of assurance mechanism are inherent in the activities of the company. They can be known or unknown to the stakeholders, and they can be inherent in business or voluntarily added to the activities of the company. For example, to many customers it is inherent that pharmaceutical products are under strict regulatory control, which implies that the customer can at any time rest assured that the product safety and quality are totally dependable, but not many customers think of this as assurance. There are therefore many aspects of an organisation’s activities and performance that provide assurance for different stakeholders on different issues.
What is assurance? In sustainability forums, assurance is traditionally closely linked to companies’ reporting of their sustainability performance. According to AccountAbility’s AA1000 Assurance Standard (2003): 'Assurance is an evaluation method that uses a specific set of principles and standards to assess the quality of a Reporting Organisation’s subject matter, such as Reports, and the organisation’s underlying systems, processes and competencies that underpin its performance. Assurance includes the communication of the results of this evaluation to provide credibility to the subject matter for its users.'
To Novo Nordisk, this type of assurance is just one of many assurance methods that are applied in the company. Just as assurance is either something inherent in the activities of the company or something the company engages in to ensure a higher level of credibility for the activities in the company, there are types of assurance that are mandatory and regulated by authorities and types that are used voluntarily. For all of these types, a range of processes is in place to provide information, documentation and assurance. Some of these are explicit assurance mechanisms, while others implicitly serve as safeguards of reliability.
What assures in Novo Nordisk?
In Novo Nordisk, there are many types of assurance mechanism, some more evident than others. A basis for all of these is the Novo Nordisk Way of Management, which forms the foundation for ‘how we do business’. It describes the corporate values and management principles, and also lists policies on all core business activities. The values on which the assurance mechanisms are built are:
Accountable: Each of us shall be accountable - to the company, ourselves and society - for the quality of our efforts, for contributing to our goals and for developing our culture and shared values.
Ambitious: We shall set the highest standard in everything we do and reach challenging goals.
Responsible: We shall conduct our business in a socially and environmentally responsible way and contribute to the enrichment of the communities in which we operate.
Engaged with stakeholders: We shall seek an active dialogue with our stakeholders to help us develop and strengthen our businesses.
Open and honest: Our business practices shall be open and honest to protect the integrity of the Novo Group companies and of each employee.
Ready for change: We must foresee change and use it to our advantage. Innovation is key to our business and therefore we will encourage a learning culture for the continuous development and improved employability of our people.