UN man urges greater take-up of CSR

In a frank and passionate keynote address to this year’s European MPI conference in Copenhagen, Mads Øvlisen, former chief executive of pharmaceutical firm Novo Nordisk and current chairman of Lego Denmark, explained how Nordisk had met CSR criticisms head on and urged other corporates to follow suit. He told delegates how the company had come under fire for failing to do enough to provide medical help for people in the economically deprived countries the company’s products were sold in. Subsequently, Novo Nordisk set up the World Diabetes Foundation, which Øvlisen said now operated in some 50 countries around the world, setting up clinics and providing preventative education to help lower the occurrence of the condition occurring. “We have to forego short-term profits in exchange for long-term benefits,” he said. “Our commitment has to be to improve the lives of the people in the countries we work in and we cannot have double standards between each territory.” He added that they key to achieving this was to empower all staff to help make a difference. “This is not just about the chief executive making a decision,” he said. “Your people have to feel they have a mandate to act in their everyday roles.” Øvlisen is a member of the UN Global Compact Board, which seeks to create “a more sustainable and inclusive global economy”. Øvlisen urged delegates to get their companies to sign up to the Compact, which involves signing up to ten CSR principles and reporting back to the UN annually on performance against the ten.

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