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Pfizer: Focusing, Refining, and Aligning CSR with a New Strategy

June 1, 2010

The Challenge

In late 2008, Pfizer began a process to refine its CSR strategy to better support the company’s evolving business priorities and organizational changes. This presented a new opportunity to involve senior leaders and functions from across the company in guiding the company’s approach to CSR. The company also wanted to leverage its strong environmental, health, and safety (EHS) programs to build a leading environmental sustainability initiative that would connect to and support its other CSR strategies. Pfizer’s CSR leadership and its EHS team asked BSR to help guide the development of these new strategies, to support their global implementation, and to assist with its external reporting.

Our Strategy

BSR worked with Pfizer to achieve three main objectives:

Out Impact

Our work has enabled Pfizer to make significant progress in aligning internal CSR efforts, engaging colleagues throughout the organization, and improving transparency.

There is now stronger board oversight and a global network of employees who meet regularly to share approaches to managing CSR issues in their regions. Our materiality analysis allows Pfizer to focus its environmental sustainability strategy on three key issues—climate, product stewardship, and water—where the company can have the biggest potential impacts, maximizing benefits to the environment and the company’s bottom line. Specific action plans and strategies for each are now being developed.

Finally, Pfizer’s most recent CSR report has provided readers with improved information to evaluate the company’s performance on key issues and challenges, as well as a set of specific goals and metrics for the year ahead. In 2010, Pfizer will begin to incorporate CSR into the company’s annual review that accompanies its financial report and will provide more information to all investors about how Pfizer integrates CSR into its business practices. By providing such information directly to all investors, the company is signaling to the broader investment community that management of CSR issues is a critical part of its long-term business success.

  1. Create a more coordinated and effective approach to CSR management. In addition to providing ongoing, strategic guidance to the company on how to improve global coordination of its CSR strategy, we developed recommendations on ways to expand board-level oversight of CSR and identify new opportunities to involve the board in CSR strategy and decision-making. BSR also worked to support the development of Pfizer’s global CSR network that brings together Pfizer employees from around the world who have CSR-related responsibilities in an effort to localize their global CSR strategy.
  2. Develop an environmental sustainability road map. BSR partnered with Pfizer’s EHS taskforce to develop a more strategic approach to environmental initiatives that will result in greater business and societal value. We began with an assessment and benchmarking of Pfizer’s current practices by interviewing key staff with responsibility for Pfizer’s sustainability programs. We then led a materiality analysis and workshop with senior business leaders to identify the environmental issues for which Pfizer could have the biggest impact. Based on these inputs, we worked with Pfizer to design a road map for environmental sustainability that aims to achieve cost efficiencies, product and brand differentiation, and, most importantly, progress on some of the world’s most pressing environmental challenges and their impact on global health.
  3. Strengthen Pfizer’s CSR reporting. BSR also supported Pfizer’s ongoing efforts to improve the measurement and communication of its performance on CSR issues such as access to medicine, research and development, patient safety, and corporate governance. Drawing on our knowledge of best practices in reporting, we guided the day-to-day development of Pfizer’s CSR report, drafted the content, and identified opportunities for innovation such as the inclusion of stakeholder voices and more balanced commentary about challenges.

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