Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) at BioNTech
We are a next generation immunotherapy company pioneering novel therapies for cancer and other serious diseases. Our aim and the core of our business model is to provide novel therapies to as many patients as possible and thus, help to improve their lives.
Our core values form the basis of everything we do: we are innovative, passionate and united. Throughout our work we are committed to being transparent, acting with integrity, protecting the environment and respecting human rights. These values form the unchanging basis of our work and, above all, our very own expectations of ourselves.
We have signed the United Nations Global Compact and support the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). In particular, our work contributes to the third SDG Healthcare – the promotion of good health and well-being for all people at all ages. We complement this commitment in our core business with good corporate governance, the exercise of social and societal responsibility and the reduction of harmful effects on the climate and environment.
Group-wide management of Corporate Social Responsibility
We have been strategically addressing our Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) since 2019.
The driving force behind the systematic anchoring of CSR in our processes, our culture and ways of working is the CSR team, which reports directly to the Management Board. It prepares analyses, decision papers and recommendations, coordinates CSR issues and ensures operational development and CSR reporting in cross-functional dialogue.
The CSR Steering Board, which meets four times a year, is responsible for the central management of CSR topics. In addition to our Chief Medical Officer, Özlem Türeci, and our Chief Financial Officer as well as Chief Operating Officer, Sierk Poetting, the Board includes twelve other top managers from across the company. The CSR Steering Board deals intensively with the relevant (“material”) CSR issues and decides on those strategically important topics. These include, in particular, the development, coordination, and monitoring of the CSR program.
Ultimate responsibility for all CSR topics rests with the entire Management Board, which is supported strategically by the CSR Steering Board and operationally by the CSR team.
Our material topics
We identified the material CSR topics through a multi-step and cross-functional process. This is based on analyses of relevant sustainability standards and benchmarks as well as structured internal interviews. By including stakeholder-oriented standards, the perspectives of various stakeholder groups were taken into account in an initial materiality analysis.
Through this process, we identified five fields of action with 13 highly relevant topics, which were then narrowed down to eight material CSR topics. In narrowing the topics we were guided by the dimensions of the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI): the significance from the stakeholder perspective (“outside-in”) and the impact of our corporate actions ("inside-out”).
As a research-based biotech company, innovation is part of our DNA. Progress in our development of product candidates and our clinical trials are a key performance indicator for us. We track the current status of our product candidates in our pipeline and publish regular updates on our progress. Systematic innovation management guarantees the economic sustainability of our business model and was assessed as material.
BioNTech has grown strongly in 2019. We intend to continue our successful growth. We will therefore pay special attention to "Sustainable Growth & Culture". It combines economic aspects such as financing, process and corporate development with an actively formed culture that promotes sustainable growth in the interests of all stakeholders.
The Management Board and Supervisory Board work together for the benefit of BioNTech. The basis for this entrepreneurial activity goes beyond a strict adherence to legal obligations, and entails an ethically sound and responsible behavior in all areas. This is what we expect from everyone who works for and with BioNTech.
All CSR-related issues of Good Corporate Governance are material to us and are comprehensively addressed by continuously improving the Codes of Ethics for employees and third parties as well as further developing specific policies: patient safety, data protection and the privacy of our patients, responsible compliance, and ethics and animal welfare.
By the end of 2019, BioNTech had 1,310 employees from 61 nations. And we continue to grow. As a biotechnology company, we are in intense competition for employees. After all, they form the basis of our corporate success. In this field of activity, the "Pioneer Pipeline" (recruitment of talent and efficient succession planning) is particular material and central to our success.
Our human resources department therefore ensures that specialists are retained in the company, new talent is recruited and that we have global integration of our teams across all subsidiaries – new and old. Our competence management approach provides a good overview of our employees’ range of skills and allows us to support them through targeted training and development measures throughout the different business units. To this end, we continuously analyze and assess the knowledge is needed today and, above all, in the future while keeping an eye on social and industry-specific trends and developments at an early stage. Ensuring the highest occupational health and safety standards for our employees is an essential prerequisite in this regard as well.
As a research-based biotech company, the work we do has an impact on the environment. Production processes and the operation of research laboratories are often linked to increased energy consumption. Additionally, personal interactions with other researchers, collaborators and business partners are essential for our work. Therefore, many of our business activities require above-average travel. This is why, climate protection dominates BioNTech's environmental agenda and is regarded as material. The highly regulated safety requirements in our industry present special challenges in waste and water management. We are focused on minimizing our environmental impact whilst balancing compliance with our industry’s strict regulations.
In order to optimize our environmental management system across all our business areas, we aim to further expand our group-wide environmental management system with a focus on climate protection, waste, energy and water management. We are continuously working on standardizing and further optimizing processes throughout the group. We will develop a climate protection strategy on the basis of a CO2e balance sheet by the end of 2020.
We are convinced that BioNTech has a responsibility as a corporate citizen. We will meet this responsibility with our corporate citizenship concept. The material topic "Caring for Patients" will be addressed and developed within this framework. In pursuing our Corporate Citizenship projects, we will focus on our business areas in order to develop and promote the skills of our employees, e.g. in the area of corporate volunteering, in a targeted and effective manner. We attribute great importance to shaping our social commitment in a sustainable manner and in line with our corporate values.
OUR MATERIALITY MATRIX
The CSR program as a cross-divisional management tool
For all relevant issues identified in the materiality process, measures, objectives and implementation deadlines were described in the CSR program. By linking the materiality analysis to the CSR program, we ensure that all relevant stakeholder interests are taken into account as much as possible. Additionally, we will regularly report openly and transparently on the degree to which we have achieved our objectives.