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Ursula Fischler-Strasak, CH

Communications – Sustainability and Access to Healthcare, F. Hoffmann-La Roche Ltd.

What does Sustainable Entrepreneurship mean to you?

Sustainable Entrepreneurship is the entrepreneur’s contribution to a better future and must consequently be at the heart of an enterprise’s strategy, decision-making and culture.

How deeply do you feel this way of thinking is already embedded in the company, but above all in the minds of entrepreneurs?

Various developments, such as communication using social media, demonstrate greater attention on the part of the company to “creation of social added value” by enterprises. Businesses which take a long-term view are therefore increasingly obliged to take up the social challenge and to involve the appropriate stakeholders. Only enterprises that contribute to the social good can be economically successful in the long term.

How is the pharmeceutical industry influenced by discussions concerning CSR reporting obligations? What is the expected impact?

I think there are two relevant aspects here:

  1. Discussion of the subjects of CSR, sustainability, etc: to a certain extent I find the discussions to be counter-productive due to the confusing terminology and the different interpretations. Personally I am not a big fan of the term “sustainability“, but I am all the more convinced of the mentality it encompasses. Businesses should therefore concentrate on defining which social added value they want to generate now and, above all, tomorrow, and on the associated challenges to be faced, without using the word “sustainability“.

  2. Discussions concerning increased reporting obligations – specifically non-financial reporting: I think the discussion is good and beneficial. The debate’s professionalism is, however, suffering from too many business-hungry service and product providers. Businesses have to do the necessary “homework” for themselves and the new guidelines also put the responsibility firmly back in the hands of businesses. Personally, I think the added value primarily lies in the indirect effect of internal reporting – further integration of the long-term economic approach in strategic and decision-making processes, communication, leadership and corporate culture.

You are responsible for “Communications – Sustainability and Access to Healthcare” at F. Hoffmann-La Roche Ltd. What role, in your opinion, does Roche play in promoting sustainable management?

Here I can only talk about my personal opinion and not on behalf of Roche: Roche, as a leading global supplier of in-vitro diagnostics and medicines, is an excellent employer and I am proud to be able to make a contribution to Roche’s success. Health is one of our greatest assets and Roche’s unique business model means we are able to make a contribution to the wellbeing of the patient, the patient's family and environment day in, day out. Roche is also a family business with an impressive corporate culture, which is often lost in major multinational corporations.

Every year the SEA recognises entrepreneurs for exceptional projects that implement Sustainable Entrepreneurship in a practical manner. What persuaded you to support this idea?

I feel the SEA is exceptional in several respects:

  1. There is often a lack of support for implementation of creative ideas and innovations. The SEA is able to give attention and financial resources to the best ideas.

  2. There needs to be greater attention to and discussion of the subject of the potential, but above all the challenges of a start-up culture. To a certain extent this also means cultural adjustments, such as in the acceptance of failures. The SEA can serve as a platform for debate.

  3. Fun factor: numerous studies show that money is not a sufficient factor for motivating the cleverest and most diligent heads to unite. The concept on which the SEA is based, with the award, gala and the other activities throughout the year, take account of this requirement.