Merck publishes 2020/2021 Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) Progress Report
Letter from our chief executive officer and president, Robert M. Davis
September 21, 2021
For over 130 years, the people of Merck have brought hope to humanity through our discovery of important medicines and vaccines, exemplary social responsibility and the positive impact on health and health equity we have achieved. Our 2020/2021 Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) Progress Report reflects our commitment to sustaining this legacy. Through scientific breakthroughs, inclusive clinical development strategies, and environmentally responsible manufacturing, our products are increasingly accessible and affordable to those in need around the world.
As we face the second year of the COVID-19 pandemic, and its devastating impact on global health and economies, I am deeply grateful to the employees across our entire company. Because of their dedication and resilience, discovery research is flourishing in our new research hubs, and patients and customers around the world can be confident in the continued quality and reliable supply of our products.
In addition, our scientists are advancing an antiviral candidate, molnupiravir, in collaboration with Ridgeback Biotherapeutics, for people with early COVID-19 infection outside of hospital settings. We have already granted voluntary licenses to a number of established Indian generic manufacturers to accelerate the availability of molnupiravir in India and in other low- and middle-income countries, contingent upon authorization by local regulatory agencies. We are also collaborating with Johnson & Johnson to scale up production of its pandemic vaccine to help expand global access.
Our ESG efforts are grounded in the core values that have always guided our mission: responsibility to patients and animals who need our medicines and vaccines; respect, inclusion, and accountability to our employees; sustaining the highest standards of ethics and integrity; and innovation and scientific excellence.
I am especially proud of our long-standing commitment to helping solve the world’s most vexing health challenges. In 2020, our products and pipeline targeted 88% of the top 20 global burdens of disease. We also expanded patient access to these essential therapies and are working to improve health equity for more people in low- and middle-income countries and in underserved people in the United States, through our social investments. For example, we are celebrating the 10th year anniversary of Merck for Mothers, our $500 million investment in innovative programming that is helping to eliminate preventable causes of maternal mortality.
I’m committed to accelerating Merck’s success in cultivating a diverse and inclusive workforce and a culture that inspires creativity and promotes health and wellbeing. Today, 46% of our company’s board of directors are women and 23% are from underrepresented groups.
We have also come a long way with our workforce, and are confident that our momentum will allow us to achieve our new Global Diversity & Inclusion goals—with a special focus on senior leadership roles.
We’ve taken big steps to accelerate the impact of our environmental sustainability agenda as well. By 2025, our goal is to achieve carbon neutrality across our operations—for our Scope 1 and 2 emissions (the fossil fuels we burn on site and the electricity we purchase). We will also accelerate by 15 years our previous 2040 goal to source 100% renewable energy for purchased electricity. In addition, we are committed to reducing our Scope 3 value chain emissions 30% by 2030, by continuing to engage with suppliers to help reduce their emissions.
These and other examples of our ESG progress are detailed in this report, which uses widely recognized reporting frameworks. Our goals are informed by our ESG materiality assessment, as well as input from stakeholders, and can be found on page 9 of the report. The report also reflects our support for the 10 principles of the UN Global Compact and recognizes the important role we play in helping to meet the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
We have prioritized eight SDGs where we are positioned to have the most significant impact. Of these, our primary focus is SDG 3, Good Health and Well-being, which aligns with our core business. This involves helping to ensure our science advances health care and our products are accessible and affordable to those in need, and while doing so, minimizing our impact on the environment, promoting inclusive economic growth, and establishing partnerships to achieve our goals.
As I assume responsibility for ensuring our ongoing success as a socially responsible company, I am grateful for the extraordinary vision of Ken Frazier, our executive chairman and former CEO. His commitment to investing in discovery and translational research as the source of our long-term business success, and the social value we contribute to our patients and customers, has never wavered. His leadership and values are reflected in the ingenuity, resilience and perseverance that our employees have shown throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, and permeate every aspect of our company.
I am proud of what the people of Merck have achieved this year and I am excited about the opportunity to build on our innovation, science and extraordinary talent to realize a better future for generations to come.
Robert M. Davis
Chief Executive Officer and President
Want to learn more?
Explore our 2020/2021 ESG report