The first step - environmental reporting
Novo Nordisk published its first environmental report in 1994 (covering the year 1993), and was the first company in Denmark and one of the first internationally to do so. This was one year ahead of Danish legislation requiring that certain companies (in total around 2,000 at the time) disclose information about their environmental impacts. The report included information about resource consumption, emissions and use of experimental animals - issues that reflected stakeholder concerns at the time, and indeed still do.
Since then, the company has continued to set ambitious targets aimed at raising environmental and bioethical standards in the company's operations. Reporting helps maintain focus and create transparency about environmental impacts, performance and goals.
Including social reporting
In 1998 Novo Nordisk published its first social report. The report set targets and followed up on the company’s efforts to live up to its social responsibility – towards employees and as a corporate citizen.
In 1999 these two supplementary reports were merged into one document, the environmental and social report. In addition, since mandatory environmental reporting remains applicable for some of the company’s Danish sites (Bagsværd, Gentofte, Hillerød and Kalundborg), annual green accounts are prepared for these sites and submitted to the Danish Commerce and Companies Agency. Site reports from individual sites (covering environmental, social and economic performance) are published every three years – next time for 2007.
In November 2000 the enzyme business was demerged from the healthcare company, and the two businesses continued as two separately listed companies, Novozymes A/S and Novo Nordisk A/S. The ownership structure remained unchanged, and a holding company, Novo A/S, was established as the link between the Novo Nordisk Foundation and the operating businesses. That is why the 2000 environmental and social report is published under the name of Novo A/S, covering performance for both companies.
Including all three bottom lines
As of 2001 Novo Nordisk began to include socio-economics, and the 2001 report was entitled ‘reporting on the Triple Bottom Line’. The Triple Bottom Line approach has guided the company’s development of its sustainability agenda, and from 2001 the company became more proactive – internally and externally – in ‘branding’ this Triple Bottom Line concept as its interpretation of sustainable development.
In 2002 and 2003 the company’s voluntary reporting on environmental, social and economic performance and key issues was published in Sustainability reports. In 2003, for the first time, the Sustainability Report was published at the same as the Annual Financial Report and distributed to shareholders. This move was very well received by shareholders and other stakeholders, as the two documents together provided a more comprehensive overview of the company’s performance, progress, positions and strategic initiatives.
In March 2004 the Annual General Meeting adopted an amendment to the company’s Articles of Association to specify in the objectives that the company will ‘strive to conduct its activities in a financially, environmentally and socially responsible way’. In this way, the commitment to the Triple Bottom Line (which was already included in the Novo Nordisk Way of Management) was further anchored as a business principle.
In order to reflect this approach, Novo Nordisk merged its financial report and its sustainability report into one inclusive document. The 2004 Annual Report was the first inclusive report and, although recognised as a ‘beta version’ of a more comprehensive approach to reporting, it was very well received.
Since 2004 Novo Nordisk has been doing integrated reporting, and has been awarded ‘the best sustainability report’ by the Danish association of state-authorised accountants, FSR, several times.