Our position on human rights

Novo Nordisk's position

Novo Nordisk is committed to meeting its responsibility to respect human rights as defined by the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.  As such we will:

  • Identify potential and actual adverse human rights impacts that our operations may cause, contribute to or be directly linked to;
  • Establish processes to prevent or mitigate potential adverse impacts on human rights, where identified;
  • Seek to best remediate or participate in the remediation of any actual adverse human rights impacts that our business causes or contributes to;
  • Account for how we address our potential and actual impacts on human rights, where it will not put the people concerned at risk or damage legitimate requirements of commercial confidentiality; 
  • Expect our business partners and other parties directly linked to our operations, products or services to respect human rights as described by the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights; including committing to respect human rights, carrying out  human rights due diligence and providing access to remedy when needed;
  • Use leverage to make other parties directly linked to our operations, products or services cease actions or omissions that lead to adverse impacts on human rights, once we become aware of such impact.

We expect every employee to ‘Treat everyone with respect’, according to the company values expressed in Novo Nordisk Way.

In implementing the UN Guiding Principles in a non-discriminatory manner, we will pay particular attention to the rights of, as well as the challenges faced by, vulnerable groups, such as children and indigenous people, and the different risks that may be faced by women and men.

In addition to working with respect for human rights, we pursue opportunities to support human rights where we can make a positive impact.

This policy commitment was approved by Sustainability Committee, acting with a mandate from the Executive Management on November 27th 2014, and will be regularly revisited.

Our actions

Since 1998 Novo Nordisk has worked in accordance with the International Bill of Human Rights (including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights). In 1999 we developed corporate programmes on equal opportunities and diversity as well as safe and healthy work environment. In 2001 we launched our Access to Care programme supporting right to health of people with diabetes globally. In 2002 we joined the United Nations Global Compact pledging to align our operations and strategies with the ten universally agreed principles for sustainable development covering the areas of human rights, labour, environment and anti-corruption. Novo Nordisk is also a member of the Global Business Initiative on Human Rights – a business-led initiative that focuses on advancing human rights in a business context around the world. Through our active engagement with GBI, we learn, share, communicate and advocate for advancing human rights practises.

In 2011 we carried out a gap assessment of our practices against working with respect for human right defined in the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. The study helped us identify key steps that need to be taken in order for Novo Nordisk to fully meet the corporate responsibility to respect human rights. Since 2012 we have taken a number of actions: We started by strengthening our human rights governance under Sustainability Committee, acting with a mandate from the Executive Committee. We have been working to continuously increase awareness among various stakeholders on Novo Nordisk Compliance Hotline, our corporate-level grievance mechanism. In the same year, we also initiated an assessment of labour practices within Novo Nordisk global organisations, and during 2013 we consolidated Global Labour Guidelines, seeking to manage, prevent and mitigate our impacts on human rights related to employment practices. (For more information on our activities in 2013 see Novo Nordisk’s UN Global Compact Communication on Progress.)

In 2014 we began a comprehensive corporate-level due diligence process. We started by identifying our potential and actual impacts in relation to all human rights included in the International Bill of Human Rights. We have identified that in the 14 corporate functions scoped we have a number of impacts on a range of human rights, but with good management systems to address majority of them. For each of them, we identified the specific Novo Nordisk business context, potentially affected stakeholders, how we may be involved (whether the company caused, contributed or was directly linked to the impact), severity of the impact (with a special attention to irremediability) and probability of the impact occurring. To integrate and act upon findings, we have currently 12 active work streams where we are implementing additional due diligence by conducting further investigation and introducing updated procedures and standards. In doing so, we are proactively consulting potentially affected people including patients, engaging local units, and reaching out to a number of external experts.

In addition we have reviewed and assessed grievance mechanisms at the operational level, and begun to take actions in order to ensure that these are effective, in line with the UN Guiding Principles’ effectiveness criteria. Also, we are currently in process of updating our approach to supply chain management, in light of the UN Guiding Principles’ requirements. Our plan is to ‘know and show’ how we respect human rights through global processes by end of 2015. In doing so we will develop internal capacity within relevant corporate functions in scaling and enabling due diligence at the local-unit level across the global organisation. We recognise that human rights due diligence is a complex task for a company with global operations, and we strive to make progress step by step as we learn.

See how our respect and support for human rights are embedded in Novo Nordisk policies.

See examples of how our respect and support for human rights are practiced in our value chain:

Clinical trials ethics
Patient safety
Access to health
Equal opportunities
Responsible sourcing
Public affairs
Intellectual property rights
Counterfeit medicines