As a biotechnology pioneer with four decades of experience, Amgen has grown to be one of the world’s leading independent biotechnology companies—reaching millions of seriously ill patients around the world with its medicines. What’s behind this incredible progress? A purpose-driven framework that starts with Amgen’s mission to serve patients, which forms the backbone of not only what the company does, but how it operates.
With the release of Amgen’s 2020 ESG report, Judy Brown, senior vice president of Corporate Affairs and head of Amgen's ESG program, explains how ESG has evolved at the company, how it has been integrated into Amgen’s performance goals, and how it naturally fits with Amgen's longstanding, purpose-driven mission.
How have the events of 2020 shaped ESG at Amgen?
Amgen has been focused on diversity and inclusion and health care disparities for many years, but the events of the last year, namely the COVID-19 pandemic and the outpouring of grief and frustration around the deaths of George Floyd and other Black Americans, inspired us to take our actions to the next level. We asked ourselves – and the Amgen Board challenged us to examine – if we were doing everything we could.
This led us to establish new diversity, inclusion and belonging (DI&B) efforts and new programs to ensure we were supporting our employees as they navigated the challenges of COVID-19. For example, we expanded existing programs to support health and wellness, including mental health, and expanded our approach to flexible work.
Working closely with our Employee Resource Groups, we also developed programs and events to address ongoing social injustice that helped to educate our staff, create a stronger sense of belonging for everyone at Amgen, and demonstrate the need to be true advocates for one another.
Where do you feel the company has made the most progress?
We have a strong ESG track record and an ambitious agenda moving forward. In some ways, I think we’ve hidden our light under a bushel for the last few years, focusing on developing strong systems that could yield repeatable results.
For example, we met and exceeded our 2020 environmental targets ahead of schedule. And, we helped low-income patients in the United States with no insurance (or inadequate insurance) by providing approximately $1.5 billion worth of free drug therapies in 20201. The Amgen Safety Net Foundation has never refused to support a qualified patient. As we move into 2021, we will continue these efforts and celebrate our progress, knowing there is more to do.
How is Amgen working to integrate ESG into its business?
Our purpose is serving patients, and our ESG strategy is how we do it. Starting in 2021, we are putting even more intention into how we hold ourselves accountable by including ESG in our corporate scorecard and formally integrating ESG performance goals into the annual corporate goals under our global bonus compensation programs.
It has also influenced our philanthropic efforts, and through the Amgen Foundation we have increased our investments to organizations working for racial equality in communities where we live and work and accelerated our efforts to increase diversity in our clinical trials.
How does Amgen’s ESG Council help carry out the company’s ESG goals?
The ESG Council brings together senior executives from various functions to discuss opportunities and initiatives in those areas most significant to Amgen. Council members also bring in stakeholder voices from external engagement activities occurring in their respective areas of expertise. Together, the Council discusses and approves proposals and recommendations, prioritizes areas for investment, and evaluates any emerging trends. The Council’s role is relatively new at Amgen, but in a short time it has already helped to add rigor into how we analyze and guide Amgen’s ESG strategy.
- Valued at wholesale acquisition cost.