Mankind is facing major global challenges such as climate change, growing resource scarcity, aging populations, threats to human rights, and barriers to health – the latter particularly in low- and middle-income countries. To overcome these issues, not only policy makers and civil society but also the private sector must join forces to find solutions.

Our approach: Looking, listening and doing better

We are aware that as a leading science and technology company our business operations impact our environment and the people around us, which is why we’ve made responsible conduct a pillar of our corporate culture. This approach is also the foundation of our sustained success. Through our innovative top-quality products for the healthcare, life science and performance materials sectors, we seek to help resolve global challenges.

Our Group strategy aims to maximize our success, which goes hand in hand with respecting the interests of our employees, customers and shareholders, as well as those of the community. Our Group strategy underpins our corporate responsibility (CR) strategy. All our CR activities fall under the heading of “responsible governance”, which for us most importantly means looking, listening and doing better.

Our CR strategy

We take responsibility for our products, the environment and the people around us – especially for our employees and the communities in which we operate. Through our products, we endeavor to meet people’s current and future needs. In doing so, safety and ethical aspects matter just as much to us as business success. In our production activities, we seek to impact the environment as little as possible, which requires safe manufacturing techniques, high environmental standards and strict quality management. Furthermore, we strengthen our company by recruiting, developing and motivating talented employees. We strive to set an example for ethical conduct and actively contribute to the communities we live in.

We aim to quickly identify new global trends and challenges, for instance by fostering dialogue with stakeholders, participating in initiatives and engaging other companies, as well as by evaluating media coverage. This allows us to minimize risks while also leveraging business opportunities that arise. In our efforts, we have chosen to pursue three strategic spheres of activity, namely health, the environment, and culture & education.


An estimated 400 million people lack access to adequate, affordable health care. Through our Group-wide Access to Health strategy, we seek to eliminate barriers in low- and middle-income countries in an effort to provide underserved populations and communities in these countries with better, sustainable access to high-quality health solutions. Developments such as rising life expectancy and simultaneously declining birth rates are also reflected in our health solutions, including our cancer research, for instance, or our fertility treatments. You can find more information under Access to health.


Many of our innovative products from our Performance Materials and Life Science business sectors help mitigate environmental impacts. Moreover, we strive to continuously enhance the sustainability footprint of our products while also helping our customers achieve their own sustainability goals.

As the global market and technology leader in , we are driving the creation of state-of-the-art, energy-efficient displays. Furthermore, we are developing materials for energy-saving lighting and photovoltaics, one of the ways we’re tackling the issue of climate change and energy scarcity. You can find more information under Sustainable product design.

Education & culture

Culture inspires people and opens their minds to new possibilities, which is why we promote cultural initiatives worldwide and support education projects. After all, education is key to making culture accessible. Cultural inspiration in turn nurtures characteristics that are essential to our business activities as a high-tech company, such as creativity, enthusiasm for new discoveries and the courage to transcend boundaries. You can find more information under Community.

Corporate responsibility entwined with governance

Our CR strategy is approved by our Executive Board, which meets regularly to make decisions regarding our CR goals and reporting. Also charged with overseeing corporate responsibility, our Group function Corporate Affairs was created in September 2017 and reports to Stefan Oschmann, Executive Board Chairman and CEO. Oschmann bears overall responsibility for the committee, which is chaired by the head of Corporate Affairs.

Our CR Committee steers the implementation of our CR strategy and submits recommendations regarding CR goals to the Executive Board. This council consists of representatives from our business sectors as well as from relevant Group functions such as EQ, HR, , and Procurement.

Our CR Committee also reviews our CR strategy to ensure that it covers the issues relevant to our company. In doing so, we draw on regular input from our stakeholders as well as the results of a materiality assessment. This council also defines measures to put our CR strategy into practice and reviews the success of these efforts. In addition, it ensures that the initiatives of our business sectors, Group functions and subsidiaries align with our Group-wide CR strategy. The measures adopted by the CR Committee are implemented by our line managers as well as by interdisciplinary project teams.

The CR Committee meets three times a year. In 2017, its meetings primarily focused on human rights, environmental and social standards along the supply chain, environmental targets, animal welfare, bioethical principles, and community involvement.

Taking on responsibility worldwide

Our corporate responsibility activities align with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Here, we focus particularly on those SDGs that best reflect our business ethos. You can find more information on our efforts to support these goals under Sustainable Development Goals.

Understanding and minimizing the impacts of our operations

We work to mitigate the ethical, financial and legal risks of our business activities, thereby ensuring our social license to operate. To this end, we have put comprehensive structures and systems in place to ensure compliance with legal requirements, along with ethical, social and ecological standards, which are explained in detail in the individual sections of this report. Our environmental management activities, for instance, aim to minimize environmental impacts at our production sites.

Liquid Crystals (LC)
Liquid crystals are a hybrid of a crystalline and liquid state. In general, molecules are perfectly arranged only when in a solid crystal state, in contrast to the liquid state, when they move around chaotically. However, liquid crystals are a hybrid of the two states: Although they are liquid, they exhibit a certain crystalline arrangement. Their rod-shaped molecules align themselves like a shoal of fish. In addition, they respond to the electromagnetic waves of light like tiny antennae. Therefore, such swarms of molecules can either allow specially prepared “polarized” light to pass through, or they can block it. This takes place in the pixels of liquid crystal displays – as it does similarly in liquid crystal windows, which can provide shade against sunlight.
Adherence to laws and regulations as well as to voluntary codices that are internal to Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany. Compliance is a component of diligent corporate governance.

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