Corporate social responsibility: Bayer’s considerable commitment to society and the environment
Board Chairman Wenning: “We stand by our role as a good corporate citizen”
Friday - April 28, 2006, Leverkusen – Social commitment at its sites has long been one of the key elements of Bayer AG’s corporate policy. At this year’s Annual Stockholders’ Meeting, the Group reinforced its commitment to corporate social responsibility. A film shown at the beginning of the meeting, together with an exhibition and various publications, informed stockholders about the company’s initiatives to promote society and the environment.
“Social responsibility has always been an essential aspect of our company’s history,” says Bayer CEO Werner Wenning. “We stand by our role as a good corporate citizen. For Bayer, economic expertise also entails a responsibility to be socially committed and to make a positive contribution to sustainable development"
Worldwide, Bayer currently supports around 300 projects in the fields of education and science, environmental protection, basic social needs, sports and culture. In 2005, the Group spent some EUR 50 million on these. “Through our activities we want to alleviate needs, promote social projects and open up opportunities for the future. We see ourselves as part of society in all countries in which we are active, and there we want to meet our social responsibilities as well as our economic ones,” explains Wenning.
In the various facets of its wide-ranging commitment, Bayer responds to key social challenges. By sponsoring education, science and research, the company complies with the demands of the “knowledge society”, in which education and further training are the main requirements for success. With awards and grants from company-sponsored foundations, Bayer supports talented young scientists and top researchers in the fields of natural science and medicine.
Through international initiatives, the aim is mainly to increase the knowledge of schoolchildren in the natural sciences. In the “Making Science Make Sense” program, which was established more than ten years ago, more than 1,200 Bayer employees regularly shape lessons in elementary schools in the United States, UK, Ireland and Japan to arouse the children’s interest in the sciences. For this, Bayer was awarded the “Ron Brown Award for Corporate Leadership” on behalf of the U.S. President at the beginning of this year. It was the first company headquartered outside the U.S.A. to receive this award.
In Germany, schoolchildren can carry out chemical and biological experiments by themselves in Bayer laboratories under professional guidance, and teaching materials are also made available to schools. In its “Jump-start” program, the company offers school-leavers without adequate qualifications the opportunity to make up school deficits and acquire practical skills. If they are successful, they may be subsequently offered a trainee contract. Since 1988, 745 new employees have been integrated into the workforce in this way. Earlier this year, German Federal Labor Minister Franz Müntefering presented Bayer with the “Shaping Employment – Companies Demonstrate Responsibility” award in recognition of this commitment.
To achieve sustainable development on a long-term basis – in other words, to maintain a successful combination of economic, ecological and social progress – the knowledge and commitment of the young generation is of major importance. Bayer was the first company to become a partner of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) for youth and the environment. Together, Bayer and UNEP are implementing a dozen projects throughout the world for young people devoted to environmental protection. There are regular network meetings, training programs, painting and photographic competitions and publications.
Every year, more than 50 young people from 16 countries in Asia, Latin America, eastern Europe and Africa are invited by Bayer to Germany for a one-week study trip. During visits to the Bayer sites and in talks with international environment experts and representatives of political institutions, they can find out first hand more about environmental protection in industry and the necessary interplay of industry, politics and society. In addition to donations in kind, Bayer also provides funds of
EUR 1 million a year for the Public Private Partnership, which the United Nations regards as exemplary.
In the field of basic social needs, Bayer has launched long-term programs to combat hunger and poverty in countries in transition. In cooperation with the non-governmental organization “Mandalla”, for example, farmers in the dry regions of Brazil are provided with irrigation systems. And in China, the company supports the U.S. organization “Mercy Corps” in granting micro-loans to fishermen who otherwise have no means to live.
In various campaigns, Bayer is also involved in the fight against epidemic diseases, particularly malaria, HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis. Bayer supplies instruments for AIDS diagnosis and mosquito nets for malaria prevention free of charge to several international aid organizations. Together with the non-profitmaking “Global Alliance for TB Drug Development”, a new tuberculosis drug is being developed that shall significantly reduce the period of treatment and can be provided to developing countries at affordable prices.
More than a billion people nowadays have no regular access to clean water – for many experts this is the most urgent global challenge of all. Bayer is the first private company outside the U.S.A. to enter a theme-related cooperation agreement with National Geographic, which is headquartered in Washington and is the biggest charitable science organization in the world. Together, they have set up the “Global Exploration Fund” for the protection of drinking water. This fund supports innovative and socially relevant research with the aim of tapping new water sources throughout the world, efficiently distributing available supplies and conserving water resources generally.
Bayer’s social commitment is rounded off by its sponsoring of sports, cultural activities and hobbies. As one of Germany’s biggest sports sponsors, the company provides the infrastructure for more than 50,000 members in 28 Bayer clubs to pursue their favorite sports – whether young people, the disabled or the general public. Another 38 Bayer clubs offer a wide variety of leisure and cultural activities.
Bayer’s responsible approach to society and the environment is also acknowledged by the financial market. Bayer stock is constantly listed in international indices such as the Dow Jones sustainability indices, the FTSE4Good and the Climate Leadership Index. These share indices list companies that lead in terms of sustainability performance and social commitment, and are increasingly consulted by investors when making investment decisions.
Corporate social responsibility is an integral part of the Group’s mission statement, corporate policy and corporate culture. This is demonstrated by the commitment of the workforce throughout the world.
Detailed information on corporate social responsibility at Bayer can be found on the Internet at www.csr.bayer.com
This news release contains forward-looking statements based on current assumptions and forecasts made by Bayer Group management. Various known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors could lead to material differences between the actual future results, financial situation, development or performance of the company and the estimates given here. These factors include those discussed in our public reports filed with the Frankfurt Stock Exchange and with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (including our Form 20-F). The company assumes no liability whatsoever to update these forward-looking statements or to conform them to future events or developments.
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