Latest news & stories

Responding department: Secretary of the Corporate Sustainability Committee

Stock Exchange Symbol: (RO:SW)

Does your company have a publicly available commitment to respect human rights?

Yes, Roche is fully committed to supporting and respecting the human rights within its sphere of its influence and to ensuring that Roche is not complicit in human rights abuses. We have a comprehensive Code of Conduct including a policy on health, safety and security of our employees. Our Corporate Principles which are part of our Code of Conduct clearly state that Roche supports and respects the human rights within the sphere of our influence.

Similarly, Roche is committed to uphold the freedom of association and the effective recognition of the right of collective bargaining, the elimination of all forms of forced and compulsory labor, the effective abolition of child labor, and the elimination of discrimination in respect of employment. It is Roche’s policy to ensure that the behavior of its employees does not discriminate anyone on the grounds of gender, race, age, ethnicity, national origin, religion, disability, sexual orientation, citizenship, generic information or any other relevant category. We have implemented corresponding measures to ensure that we do “no harm”. Our commitments are made explicit in our Roche Group Code of Conduct as well as in the Roche Group Employment Policy and the Policy on Safety, Security, Health and Environmental Protection. Internally, our commitment is to enforce our Policies.

Our Roche Supplier Code of Conduct clearly states that Roche is fully committed to supporting and respecting human rights. Roche supports the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs) (“Ruggie Framework”). Roche’s suppliers are expected to support and respect human rights, too. We audit our most important business critical suppliers (approx. 1000) and human rights are covered in these audits.

[link]

[link]

[link]

[link]

[link]

[link]

[link]

How are human rights governed in your company?

Every Roche site has a human resource manager responsible for ensuring compliance with Roche’s human rights principles. At Group level, our Compliance Officer deals with all infringements and reports directly to senior management. They submit regular compliance reports to the Audit and Corporate Governance Committee. Many sites, particularly in developing countries, have standards in place that are even more rigorous than those set out in the Group's Employment Policy.

As said above, compliance reports are regularly submitted to the Audit and Corporate Governance Committee of the Board of Directors. Due to the nature of our business we do not consider any of our operations to be at risk of human rights violations such as child labor, forced or compulsory labor, or infringements of indigenous rights. All of our operations respect the right of employees to freedom of association and collective bargaining as set out in our employment policy. Employees can choose to be represented by unions, works councils or similar organizations including the Roche Europe Forum, where employees from every Roche company in Europe are represented.

We audit our most important business critical suppliers (approx. 1000) and in case of findings in the human rights area, we collaborate with the suppliers to close these.

How are human rights managed within your company?

We do not have operations where this could be a significant risk. However, human rights are also part of our audits of suppliers that we conduct under the Pharma Supply Chain Initiative (“PSCI”) Principles ([link]). Total number of audits conducted in 2013: 164 (expected number for 2014: 180); total number of agreements that have Human Rights clauses included: > 1000.

We publicly disclose findings from our supplier audits program on our Roche website for suppliers: [link]

2013 Annual Report - Business Report, Pages 62, 67, 79

[link]  

[link]

[link]

[link]

All our investment agreements include human rights clauses, a human rights screening and/or make reference to the Roche Supplier Code of Conduct (which includes human rights). More than 75% of our new bidding processes and contracts contain sustainability clauses that refer to the Roche Supplier Code of Conduct. Human rights are also part of our audits of suppliers that we conduct under the PSCI Principles. Total number of audits conducted in 2013: 164; total number of agreements that have Human Rights clauses included: > 1000.

We follow up on findings of audits and work with the suppliers to improve their standards.

2013 Annual Report - Business Report, Page 63

[link]  

[link]

[link]

All critical suppliers have undergone human right screening. In 2013, we terminated business with two suppliers, who did not meet our minimum standards and were not prepared to improve.

2013 Annual Report - Business Report, Pages 62 f., 78, 95.

[link]

In 2014, suppliers collaborated well and all suppliers improved their standards to meet our requirements. No collaboration was terminated.

All procurement employees are trained on sustainability, compliance and on the Roche Supplier Code of Conduct. Procurement managers are also trained on anti-corruption compliance.

We have enabled an allegation mechanism for complaints. The Chief Compliance Officer serves as contact person for employees, shareholders, customers, business partners and the general public on issues relating to the implementation of and compliance with our Roche Group Code of Conduct. In addition, we provide for remediation whenever we are confronted with a violation of human rights.

All employees and business critical contractors when starting in the group complete our e-learning “Code-of-Conduct” program, including the “Code-of-Conduct” program addendum program, which covers all our policies and guidelines (the completion is mandatory and monitored), including human rights.

[link]

[link]

Further, we offer an e-learning program to help our suppliers and service providers increase their knowledge and understanding of the Roche Supplier Code of Conduct and of industry standards for sustainability. The supplier e-learning module of the Roche Supplier Code of Conduct, which is available in five languages, has been completed by more than 3’000 supplier representatives to date.

Our procurement employees are asked to go through a mandatory e-learning program on sustainability and procurement which includes human rights aspects.

Currently, a major effort is under way to embed adequate procedures into standard procurement practice via appropriate strategies, governance, and processes. We strive to maintain a system of consistent global standards which includes not only our suppliers but also our business partners in the area of R&D, clinical trials, manufacturing and distribution.

All critical suppliers have undergone human right screening. We terminated business with two suppliers, who did not meet our minimum standards and were not prepared to improve.

2013 Annual Report - Business Report, Pages 62 f., 78, 95.

[link]

All procurement employees are trained on sustainability, compliance and on the Roche Supplier Code of Conduct. Procurement managers are also trained on anti-corruption compliance.

2013 Annual Report, p. 57 - 63,  83

[link]

Total number of supplier sustainability audits conducted in 2013 that include Human Rights topics: 164; Total number of Supplier risk assessments conducted (that include check on suppliers' commitment to the principles in the Roche Supplier Code of Conduct which includes Human Rights) in 2013: approx. 1000.

What is the company’s approach to the engagement of stakeholders (including workers, and local communities impacted by the company’s activities), on human rights issues?

Wherever there is an employee representative body, we strive to maintain an open dialogue with these delegations and maintain a relationship based on mutual trust. We endeavor to proactively approach employee representative bodies in substantial projects effecting employees’ interests, where applicable, such as the Roche Europe Forum for European cross-border activities.

Roche is committed to protecting the health and safety of its employees and others potentially affected by Roche’s activities. In our recently performed Global Employee Opinion Survey 2014, our employees were asked whether they think that Roche acts responsibly within the community. 81% answered positive.

Actions on 'other' issues

All of these above mentioned aspects are relevant for Roche and are covered by our supplier sustainability program. We collaborate with other pharmaceutical companies under the Pharma Supply Chain Initiative (“PSCI”) on human rights aspects and other CSR aspects.

As said above, due to the nature of our business we do not consider any of our operations to be at risk of human rights violations such as child labor, forced or compulsory labor, or infringements of indigenous rights. All of our operations respect the right of employees to freedom of association and collective bargaining as set out in our employment policy.

At our 10th CSC Workshop in Buonas on September 17-18 2014, we discussed in a workshop session how best Roche can come up to the expectations as set forth by the United Nations (Global Compact and Ruggie Framework). We have also invited representatives of Roche affiliates to this Workshop. By way of example, Roche Colombia supports a local human rights initiative together with other Swiss multinationals and the Swiss Embassy in Colombia (see more under question 8).

We also discussed the support of local sustainability initiatives and collaborations at affiliate level.

How are human rights commitments and information about how the company addresses its human rights impacts communicated, internally and externally?

From our annual report 2013, page 83:

Roche fully supports and implements the ‘Protect, Respect, Remedy’ approach from the UN Human Rights Council’s Ruggie Framework. We are equally committed to complying with the 10 UN Global Compact Principles; the Universal Declaration of Human Rights; and the Fundamental Labour Rights stipulated by the International Labour Organization’s Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work. We have consistent global standards across all areas of the company and support and respect all human rights within the sphere of our influence. Human rights are embedded in our Code of Conduct and we actively ensure that Roche is not complicit in any human rights abuses. Our commitments are detailed in the Code of Conduct and the Supplier Code of Conduct, as well as in the Roche Group Employment Policy and the Policy on Safety, Security, Health and Environmental Protection. These policies are rigorously enforced both internally and externally.

From our web: [link]

All Roche companies and affiliates respect the following basic human rights principles:

  • Roche condemns all forms of forced or child labour. Roche tolerates the employment of juveniles only where their employment is lawful and only under conditions which adequately safeguard their well-being.
  • Roche does not tolerate any form of workplace discrimination based on gender, race, age, skin colour, religion, marital status, sexual preference, heritage or physical or mental disability, nor do specific Roche sites tolerate any other forms of discrimination prohibited by law or regulation in the countries or localities where they operate.
  • Roche does not tolerate any form of psychological, physical or sexual harassment or any other violation of the dignity and respect of employees in the workplace. Should an employee be subjected to harassment, his or her supervisor or manager has a duty to ensure that it ceases immediately. Employees are requested to report incidents of harassment to their manager or human resources department at once.
  • Roche respects the right of all employees to join a legally recognised employee association and will comply with all laws relating to employee representation. We strive to set up and maintain an open dialogue with employee representatives.
  • Roche is committed to observing all regulations in the area of health and safety at work, not only in respect of all its employees but also in respect of anyone else potentially affected by its activities. Similarly, employees must comply with the health, safety and environmental regulations currently in force at Roche.

Further, please see our Roche Position on Respecting Human Rights which we use in our internal and external communication: [link]

In our latest e-learning “Code of Conduct” program Roche Behavior in Business Addendum I, we included the topic “human rights” and Roche’s commitment to the protection of human rights within the sphere of its influence and made reference to the Roche Position on Respecting Human Rights.

We communicate about supplier audits and findings from audits on our Roche supplier websites:

[link]

What provisions does your company have in place to ensure that grievances from workers and affected communities or individuals are heard, and can you provide examples of remedies provided?

We have enabled an allegation mechanism for complaints.

Further we created a new website for business partners:

[link]

There, we added the contact details of our Chief Compliance Officers and encourage our business partners to seek help and advice in regard of the implementation of the Roche Group Code of Conduct as well as to report a non-compliant situation which they face in connection with a Roche business.

In general, the Chief Compliance Officer serves as contact person for employees, shareholders, customers, business partners and the general public on issues relating to the implementation of and compliance with our Roche Group Code of Conduct. In addition, we provide for remediation whenever we are confronted with a violation of human rights.

Which external and collaborative human rights initiatives does your company participate in, and what is the nature of your involvement?

We do not have operations where human rights could be a significant risk. Therefore, based on materiality assessments, Roche is not participating in such multi-stakeholder initiatives. We collaborate with other pharmaceutical companies under the PSCI to improve supplier standards. We have jointly development supplier audit protocol which covers human rights. We audited approx. 180 suppliers in 2014 under these principles ([link]).

Roche Colombia supports a local human rights initiative together with other Swiss multinationals and the Swiss Embassy in Colombia. We promote this example as best practice to other Roche affiliates in emerging markets.

In the context of access to medicines initiatives, we locally work with NGOs, patient organisations, payers and other stakeholders to continuously and sustainably reduce the barriers that prevent people from having access to our products. The Chief Compliance Officers is heading the Compliance Expert Group at Swiss Holdings (an association of multinationals in Switzerland) where best practice examples regarding human rights around globe are discussed and shared.

Which are the key one, two or three elements of your approach to human rights that been developed or amended since June 2011? Please indicate if these actions were in response to the UN Guiding Principles.

We continuously increased the number of supplier audits from 50 per year in 2011 to 164 in 2013, and approx. 180 in 2014. We also expanded our collaboration with other companies on supplier audits under the PSCI program. We held supplier days in an increasing number of countries, including China, USA, Turkey, Brazil, Colombia, Uruguay, Chile and Argentina.

These actions were not in response to UN Guiding Principles, but based on our commitment to improve our engagement and dialogue with our stakeholders. We regularly discuss human rights topics with our sustainability network internally. We regularly strive to improve our dialogue und engagement with our stakeholders by updating our sustainability website.

We continuously strive to identify spaces for improvement with our affiliates. As a general rule, based on our business case and model which focus on science and high quality work, we regularly make a careful due diligence when selecting, instructing and monitoring our employees and business partners.

What are some of the obstacles and challenges that your company encounters in implementing its human rights commitments?

Based on our business model, we not have operations where human rights could be a significant risk. Most cases can be mitigated by a careful due diligence when selecting, instructing and monitoring our employees and business partners.

With respect to the fight for human rights in China in relation with transplantation of organs:

We tried and continuously try to shape the legal and regulatory environment in the country, e.g. some weeks ago, the Chinese government decided that in future they will prohibit the use of human organs taken from executed prisoners for transplantation purposes. This is a great outcome for human rights. Roche with many other stakeholders worked for such a solution by promoting and supporting the fostering of alternative solutions, e.g. by promotion of the donation cards.

In summary, we conclude that Roche is very proactively respecting the human rights within its sphere of influence. Much to our delight, external stakeholders such as the DJSI do recognize our sustainability commitments, initiatives and performance. In the DJSI Rating 2014, Roche was recognized as best in class in “Labor Practice Indicators and Human Rights”.

We have challenges due to systemic issues in China, India where fair payment is not a given and where cultural aspects influence certain behavior. For example, there are migrants that do not gain enough money with only one job and have two or three jobs in parallel. They are working a lot of overtime. Our suppliers try to control this, but in many cases, it goes beyond their sphere of influence.