For decades Novo Nordisk has systematically been engaging with multiple stakeholders to address key areas of its business. Reaching out to stakeholders helps reconcile dilemmas and find common ground for more sustainable solutions. It also helps in monitoring trends that can affect its future business.
Stakeholder engagement is an integrated part of Novo Nordisk's business philosophy. Long-standing engagements with stakeholders are vital for building trust and understanding in a variety of issues. By involving stakeholders in the decision-making processes, decisions are better founded and solutions more likely to succeed.
Novo Nordisk holds itself accountable to its shareholders and other stakeholders. Stakeholders are defined as any individual or group that may affect or may be affected by the company's activities. This very broad definition makes virtually anyone a stakeholder. Novo Nordisk recognises that relations with stakeholders may be active, dormant or passive, and that stakeholder relations are never a constant, nor a given.
In defining the nature of engagement, we will (although not as the result of a systematic box-ticking approach) consider the stakeholder's power to influence the company, the legitimacy of the stakeholder's relationship with the company, and the urgency with which the stakeholder brings forward his or her claim on the company. Such criteria help determine the salience of stakeholder demands and how they should be prioritised. In such considerations, short-term and long-term business interests, including reputation, are taken into consideration.
Novo Nordisk’s stakeholders
Novo Nordisk's key stakeholders include people with diabetes and others who rely on the company’s products, customers (ie public healthcare providers and payers), employees, investors, suppliers and other business partners, neighbours, and key publics.
For Novo Nordisk, the patient is at the centre – and hence the ultimate stakeholder to which the company must hold itself accountable. See Novo Nordisk's approach to quality, product responsibility and customer service.
Results with stakeholders
Ongoing interactions with stakeholders, trendspotting, business monitoring and the integrated systematic risk management process are tools to identify the issues that are material to Novo Nordisk's business. In turn, our response to current and emergent business and societal challenges is shaped in a closer dialogue with representatives of the stakeholders affected by the issue. As a result of this process, we can frame our strategic response and define targets. We regularly review key priorities to ensure that they reflect current agendas, and report on progress in relation to performance targets.
A value chain view on stakeholder engagement
The rationale for Novo Nordisk's stakeholder engagement is that collaborative efforts are the best way to co-create innovative solutions for the benefit of both parties involved. For instance, products and services are developed to satisfy customer and societal needs. Throughout the value chain, from discovery to distribution, engagement with stakeholders informs goal-setting and decision-making.
Dedicated to changing diabetes
With an aspiration to eventually defeat diabetes, Novo Nordisk has launched an ambitious corporate programme called 'Changing Diabetes®'. This promise holds both a business rationale and a social commitment in a global context. Early prevention, early diagnosis and optimal treatment improve the health of people with diabetes and help alleviate the unfolding burden of the diabetes pandemic.
This approach is the logical continuation of a business strategy that began years ago, namely focusing on people with diabetes. This has led to the development of more user-friendly distribution systems and, more recently, to active advocacy and campaigns on behalf of patients.
Shared efforts to achieve common goals
Novo Nordisk has begun to explore new approaches to business development. The power to make changes in society may be more effectively executed when orchestrated in partnerships with influential stakeholder groups. One such example is the WWF Climate Savers Network; a coalition of leading businesses that has been brought together by the WWF to demonstrate to others that it is possible to set and achieve ambitious targets to mitigate climate change.
Novo Nordisk is actively advocating for an ambitious global deal at the COP15 climate meeting in Copenhagen in December. Other impactful alliances of which Novo Nordisk is an active member are the Copenhagen Climate Council and the Prince of Wales Corporate Leaders Group.
The DAWN programme
Another strong example of the value of stakeholder engagement is the DAWN programme – the largest ever global survey to uncover diabetes attitudes, wishes and needs. The study focused on the person behind the disease and aimed to uncover the psychosocial aspects of diabetes. It was initiated by Novo Nordisk in 2001 and conducted in collaboration with the International Diabetes Federation and an expert advisory board. In all, the study involved more than 5,400 people with diabetes and more than 3,800 healthcare professionals from 13 countries. It has now evolved into a programme calling for concerted action to improve diabetes care. Today, more than 30 countries run the DAWN programme, involving academic research, educational programmes and new approaches to treatment at hospitals and clinics.
Furthermore, Novo Nordisk is engaged in the DAWN Youth programme, which is a new global initiative, in partnership with the International Diabetes Federation (IDF) and the International Society for Pediatric and Adolescent Diabetes (ISPAD). The DAWN Youth facilitates advocacy, research and action to improve the lives of young people with diabetes and their families.
In an effort to discover what it will take to build strong support systems for young people with diabetes, one of the main activities in DAWN Youth was the survey conducted in 2007 and finalised in January 2008 including more than 6,800 respondents. The survey examines the attitudes, wishes and needs of young people as well as their families, healthcare professionals, peer groups and others close to young people on an international scale to guide international as well as national initiatives.
National Changing Diabetes Programmes
Taking a similar approach, but on a different scale, Novo Nordisk is currently running National Changing Diabetes® Programmes around the world.
These are initiatives to improve access to diabetes care based on partnerships with many stakeholders and spearheaded by Novo Nordisk through its affiliates. Activities include educating nurses, doctors and patients, supporting diabetes patient organisations, equipping diabetes clinics, and working with governments to design national diabetes strategies.
The increase in people with diabetes is not the only change that the world will see in a 20-year scenario. With ample evidence that the climate is also changing, there is a strong case for global leaders to form partnerships and take action.
Novo Nordisk is member of the Climate Savers programme. This business programme, organised by WWF, aims to set examples in order to convince political and corporate decision-makers that reducing CO2-emissions is not only necessary but also makes good business sense. Novo Nordisk has taken up the challenge, and in a unique partnership with DONG Energy, the company’s energy supplier in Denmark, Novo Nordisk has devised a cost-neutral way to significantly achieve reductions in CO2-emissions and at the same time help build the market for renewable energy in Denmark. See more about Novo Nordisk’s strategic responses to the climate change challenge.
Since 1999 Novo Nordisk has been conducting biannual Customer Satisfaction Programmes in order to better understand and meet our stakeholders’ needs. These studies evaluate the expectations of healthcare professionals and patients, as well as their levels of satisfaction, using a wide range of parameters related to the company image, sales force and patient services.
The results are used to identify and prioritise areas for quality improvement. On this basis, action plans to improve customer satisfaction are drawn up and implemented in all markets until the next study is carried out. This continual process ensures that we are at the cutting edge of changing customer needs with our products and services.
Since the beginning of the satisfaction programmes, the level of satisfaction has increased among our customers. More specifically, these satisfaction programmes have helped us confirm our leadership in haemostasis and diabetes products. Our customers also recognise our efforts in patient education and our diabetes heritage.
Novo Nordisk also engages with stakeholders through the range of organisations of which the company is a member. See a list of memberships.
Novo Nordisk's corporate website has information for stakeholders with specific information needs such as shareholders, job seekers, media, healthcare professionals and patients.
In addition to these corporate services, individual affiliates have established web communities for patients and healthcare professionals. For instance, Novo Nordisk set up the first Chinese-language website with information about diabetes.
At Novo Nordisk, stakeholder engagement is not an annual event, but rather takes the form of daily activities throughout the organisation. While some formal stakeholder consultations do take place, these are not reported in terms of frequency or outcomes.
Nor is there any one single department or unit responsible for such engagement activities; instead 'stakeholder relations' is seen to be part and parcel of everyone's work.
Formal stakeholder consultations can take the form of neighbour meetings at the production sites, round-table discussions on emerging issues, conferences, seminars and workshops, customer satisfaction surveys, or shareholder meetings.