Corporate Social Responsibility as a Driver for Improved Sustainability

The pharmaceutical industry must respond to growing expectations for product safety, the conduct of clinical trials, access to therapeutic care and the environmental impact of medicinal products and manufacturing. Servier Group formalized its Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) strategy to integrate and communicate the actions it is taking in collaboration with internal and external stakeholders.

What is CSR?

Corporate social responsibility (CSR) encompasses activities taken by companies, typically those that go beyond legal requirements, to reduce their environmental impact and enhance the social well-being of their employees and members of their communities — and the world. CSR is important as large companies have significant influence over sizable groups of people, from their customer base to politicians, and measurable impact on the environment. With CSR, that influence is used to achieve positive change. 

In 2018, many companies are ramping up their activism and investment in issues that impact their employees, customers and communities.1 Some of the areas they are focusing on, according to Susan McPherson, CEO of McPherson Strategies and contributor to Forbes, are workplace harassment and inequality, diversity, privacy and data protection, brand activism, climate resilience and supplier standards.1 She notes: “As 2018 unfolds, it’s likely that companies will continue taking unprecedented action to accelerate social and environmental progress.”1

ISO 26000:2010

The International Standards Organization first published ISO 26000 – Social respon-
sibility in 2010.2 This standard consists of a set of voluntary guidelines for implementing a CSR strategy and operating in a socially responsible manner. The goal of the guidance is to help companies understand the principles of CSR and to translate them into programs using best practices. It was developed with input from approximately 500 representatives of various governments, NGOs, companies, consumer groups and labor organizations from around the world. 

Why CSR in the Pharma Industry?

It is the manufacturer’s responsibility to ensure all medications are produced at the highest levels of quality and safety, using processes with minimal environmental impact. Workers and communities must be protected and supported, and the medications must be accessible to patients. Although most pharmaceutical companies take these responsibilities very seriously — and despite tremendous advances in the treatment of diseases and the exciting promise of next-generation biologic drugs — public perception of the industry has declined in recent years. CSR strategies provide a clear mechanism by which pharmaceutical companies can demonstrate and communicate their commitment to social and environmental issues.3

Why CSR at Servier?

At Servier, we recognize the power of CSR as a linking mechanism for social and environmental programs. A formal CSR strategy enables communication of company goals for creating positive social and environmental impacts in collaboration with all internal and external stakeholders — from employees to customers/partners. Our objective is to enable sustainable development. To do so, we are taking steps that go beyond legal obligations; it is a business strategy of Servier to be socially responsible as a means for creating value for all stakeholders and growth opportunities for the company.

Servier has implemented a formal, structured CSR strategy using an inclusive and participatory approach that aims to further spread social responsibility in each of the Group’s business areas. Our CSR department conducted a materiality analysis for key stakes following ISO 26000 guidelines in 2016. Key CSR priorities were enumerated. Through more than 50 interviews with internal and external stakeholders, 17 priority stakes were identified to address main goals for the Group over the next 5–10 years. 

At Servier, we recognize the power of CSR as a linking mechanism for social and environmental programs. 

Commitment Areas

The 17 stakes were classified into four “commitment areas” that are in keeping with the Group’s values and strategic orientations. Our CSR strategy is based on these four commitment areas: a company committed to healthcare, caring about people, focused on our business practices and aiming for a positive footprint. 

Servier’s CSR is designed to meet stakeholders’ expectations and is an integral part of all our operations, business areas and subsidiaries.

A Company Committed to Healthcare

Servier is dedicated to developing and manufacturing therapies that benefit patients and meet their expectations for safe, high-quality products. We are committed to ensuring product safety and quality, anti-counterfeiting, ecodesign and a global approach to healthcare. We are highly experienced in achieving the utmost quality at all of our sites, internationally and especially at our industrial sites.

Over the coming years, Servier aims to develop an ecodesign approach in order to reinforce our capacity for innovation, to create value for the Group and to leverage this value for our partners and clients. We want to progressively develop life cycle analysis for our products and plan to test a pilot by the end of 2018 or into 2019. We believe this will optimize the various stages of our product, and we hope to identify some “quick wins” to improve our positive impacts while decreasing any negative impact (by, for instance, using green and white chemistry, packaging, the use of natural resources, design and services). Innovation is key for Servier, and this connection is present throughout all areas of the Group. 

Corporate Social Responsibility

  Creation of CSR department and key stakes assessment of CSR
  Development of an action plan 
  Policy launch and rollout
  Creation of a correspondent network
  Contribution of policy to UN Sustainable Development Goals
  Publication of the first CSR report for 2017–2018


Caring About People

Servier has a robust social culture. We put people first, and this has been our priority since the beginning — people are at the heart of our strategy. In addition, we demand a very high level of safety on all of our sites. We have an operating Environmental Health and Safety (EHS) Team, and many sites have already implemented a Safety Management System  (OHSAS 18001 or equivalent). Again, this is because we consider health and safety to be top priorities. In addition, we strive to develop a “zero accident” culture. This not only has a positive effect on our people, but also indirectly benefits all our partners. When a partner or client works with Servier, they can be sure that the team on-site operates within a high level of EHS, meaning there is less risk of an accident ever taking place — this means our partners do not need to worry about their reputation being impacted in a negative way or business being interrupted. 

Focused on Our Business Practices

Stakeholders have high expectations for business ethics and transparency. To fulfill these expectations, we promote open and direct communication with patients, employees, partners, public authorities and civil society, in an effort to bolster business ethics, responsible purchasing, ethics and transparency of clinical trials and stakeholder engagement. Servier is currently working on a new Ethics Charter and a new code of conduct, which is addressed to all of our stakeholders. Stakeholder engagement is highly important for the Group. It is imperative to our long-term vision, with a high level of consideration and respect for our stakeholders (patients, partners and clients). We promote respect, transparency and ethics in all of our discussions and interactions with our stakeholders; our strategy is to create long-term partnership. Examples of initiatives that fall into our business ethics commitment are the creation of a Responsible Purchasing Committee and the training of a buyer network in responsible purchasing. Servier was also ranked No. 2 in the international CenterWatch 2017 for clinical trial quality.

Aiming for a Positive Footprint

As of now, eight Servier manufacturing sites hold ISO 140001 and/or ISO 50001 certifications for environmental and energy management systems, respectively. Our Arklow site in Ireland and Warsaw plant in Poland both are zero-waste-to-landfill facilities. One example of a community program involved training of young doctors in Abidjan in January 2016, in conjunction with the Africa Diabetes Academy. We have high ambitions regarding the environment, with climate change and waste and effluents management considered in all that we do. Servier wants to become a carbon neutral company (scope 1 and 2) in 10 years. The Group also has plans to be “zero waste to landfill” for all our industrial sites within a few years (we already have sites compliant with this internal objective). We treat the ecosystem with the high level of care it deserves and strive to forge strong relationships with the stakeholders of this system, from those in our neighborhood to our city, administration, local partners and industrial, as well as researchers. Our long-term vision is an asset; our people believe in this commitment, which has led to donations and volunteer work. 

A Human Company

Our formalized CSR strategy is part of Servier’s transformation plan and contributes to its dynamic of openness. Communication with stakeholders strengthens our ability to anticipate emerging topics in order to create the right conditions for a more sustainable model. The 17 stakes and four areas of commitment support our position as a human company focused on improving all aspects of humanity. Our new CSR strategy is being launched and rolled out in 2018 in combination with the creation of a correspondent network. Servier is also making policy contributions that will enable us to work toward achieving UN Sustainable Development Goals. We are looking forward to the publication of our first CSR report for 2017–2018, which will take place in 2019. 


  1. McPherson, Susan. “8 Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Trends To Look For In 2018.” Forbes. 12 Jan. 2018. Web.
  2. “ISO 26000 – Social responsibility.” International Organization for Standardization. 2018. Web.
  3. Tolve, Andrew. “Pharma and CSR: Why good deeds are good business.” Eye For Pharma. 14 Mar. 2011. Web.

Allain de Wilde

Allain de Wilde is in charge of Corporate Social Responsibility for Servier Group worldwide. He joined Servier in 1981, with a background in the chemical industry. Allain has been involved in the development of Servier pharmaceutical activities worldwide for 25+ years. He managed the Brazilian and Irish manufacturing sites for more than 10 years before taking his current position as CSR director.