Holding ourselves to the highest ethical standards
Novartis is committed to the highest ethical standards and are taking necessary steps to enable associates to do what’s right. Our culture is built around a Code of Conduct, which is a fundamental part of the terms of employment for all associates of Novartis Group companies. All associates receive copies when they join the Novartis Group and are held accountable to its contents. It has been translated into 18 languages and has been adopted by local boards.
The Code contains our principles and expectations for ethical business conduct that help guide our associates in making the right decisions when they encounter difficult situations or ethical dilemmas during the course of their work.
Code of Conduct Core Principles
The Code of Conduct is organized around our commitment to meet the expectations of our five key stakeholder groups: our patients, associates, shareholders, healthcare partners and society at large. It is based on five core principles:
We put patients first
We treat our associates fairly and respectfully
We are committed to outstanding and sustainable performance with integrity
We strive to be a trusted healthcare partner
We aspire to be a good corporate citizen
We embed the five principles of our Code of Conduct in our work in a variety of ways. Most importantly, Novartis expects managers to lead by example. This means that managers must accommodate ethical considerations in business planning and decision making, training associates to ensure they will make responsible decisions, and encouraging associates to speak up when ethical challenges arise.
In addition, we encourage and reward ethical behavior by including an assessment of each employee’s alignment to our values and behaviors in their annual performance appraisal. Achieving business objectives and alignment with company values receive equal weighting in compensation reviews.
To further reinforce principles-based thinking and ethical decision-making in our organization and interactions with external stakeholders, we are developing a Novartis Code of Ethics which will replace the current Code of Conduct. Building on our Professional Practices Policy, and rooted in behavioral science, the code is being co-created by Novartis people, for Novartis people. More than 2 500 associates shared ideas and insights during an early-stage crowdsourcing, and 1 500 participated in a global engagement to encourage open conversations around ethical dilemmas at Novartis. Development of the code is underway, with more than 500 associates volunteering to be part of the network that will launch the code in 2020.
Training and guiding associates
Awareness and training programs are offered regularly in a range of formats, including awareness-building programs, e-training, face-to-face programs, games and workshops. We provide extensive communication toolkits to support awareness programs at the local level.
All Novartis Group company associates are required to complete integrity and compliance training. The Compliance e-training curriculum provides relevant information to enable associates to make the right choices in the course of their work and to perform with integrity. It addresses identified and relevant company risks and helps to communicate new and upgraded policies and guidelines across the organization.
In addition, all newly hired associates worldwide complete a mandatory onboarding e-Training course. This comprehensive course covers 17 subject areas and is sent to all new hires four weeks after their employment begins.
We report relevant completion rates for our e-trainings in our Novartis in Society Report. Training on ethical business practices is included in our Corporate Leadership Learning programs, and we provide extensive training for our Integrity and Compliance Officers across the company.
We require associates to report actual or suspected violations of our Code of Conduct, but realize that fear of reprisals can make people hesitant to speak up. This is why we enforce clear policies to prevent retaliation against any associate reporting an issue.
The SpeakUp Office (formerly named Business Practices Office) offers employees and people outside of Novartis a channel through which to report misconduct. Complaints can be made by email, phone, online or in-person. The web-based and telephone channels are operated via a third-party vendor. The SpeakUp Office manages investigations into all complaints, and escalates any substantiated cases of misconduct to management for appropriate action. We report on complaints received and substantiated in our Novartis in Society Report.