At Johnson & Johnson, we are guided and sustained by a statement of beliefs we call Our Credo, which outlines our responsibilities to our customers, our employees, our communities around the world, as well as our shareholders. These responsibilities guide our business and social practices with a strong focus on the people, customers and communities we serve – not only in what we say, but in how we act as a Company.
Governments have the duty to protect the human rights of all people. As a corporation, Johnson & Johnson has a responsibility to respect these rights, and especially those of the more than one billion people we touch with our products and services each day, including our employees and the people who support our businesses.
We are committed to respecting human rights as embodied in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and its two corresponding covenants, The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and The International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights. We endeavor to ensure that we do not infringe on human rights, avoid complicity* in the human rights abuses of others, and comply with the laws of the countries in which we do business.
In particular, we believe our most significant opportunities to impact human rights—and therefore our greatest areas of responsibility—are in the areas of Human Rights in the Workplace, Access to Health Care, and Clinical Research Ethics.
Human Rights in the Work Place
Our employees around the world are the backbone of our commitment to human rights practices and performance. We respect the dignity and human rights of our employees as well as those working in our external supply chain. In addition to the universal statements of human rights noted above, we follow the principles in the International Labor Organization’s Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work, including non-discrimination, freedom of association and collective bargaining, and freedom from forced and child labor. Our commitments are detailed in our Global Labor & Employment Guidelines, our Policy on Employment of Young Persons, our Standards for Responsible External Manufacturing and our Policy on Business Conduct. Our workplace practices and policies on providing fair compensation, equal opportunity, safe and healthy workplaces and other commitments to human rights reflect our belief that the success of our Company is linked with employee satisfaction and well-being. We foster compliance with these policies on a continuing basis through internal training programs, certification processes for external manufacturers and risk-based audit programs.
As a health care company, we have a long-standing commitment to improve and sustain the health of our workforce. Our Healthy People program provides employee assistance, occupational health and health promotion, and wellness services. Our efforts in these areas continue to expand around the world with the goal of creating a “Global Culture of Health” for employees. Our Global Workplace Policy on HIV/AIDS ensures that all employees and their dependents living with HIV/AIDS are treated with dignity and respect and have access to treatment and support services.
In accordance with laws and regulations, and consistent with Our Credo values, we have formal mechanisms for employees to air grievances and to file complaints and violations without fear of reprisal, including our confidential Employee Hotline phone resource and website. Our periodic Credo Survey gives employees another anonymous opportunity to provide candid feedback on how we uphold the values and beliefs as outlined in Our Credo.
Access to Healthcare
We believe that effective, compassionate health care systems are critical to achieving better health for people around the world. Such systems are centered on the needs of individuals and offer access to health care coverage for all. These systems provide people with information, encouragement, incentives and support to remain healthy, obtain early diagnoses and receive quality care and treatment when it is needed. While the right to health care is primarily the responsibility of governments, companies have an opportunity to enhance access as well. As a member of the global health care community, Johnson & Johnson has a responsibility to advance good health care through our actions and to work with others to help shape effective health care systems around the world that will serve the needs of people. We recognize that all members of the health care community must collaborate to achieve this goal. We advocate for increased access to health care around the world. We also offer direct support by enhancing access to our HIV/AIDS medicines in developing countries, providing medicines and other products through our product giving and disaster relief programs, conducting research and development on transmissible diseases of the developing world, and helping to enhance health care infrastructure in medically underserved areas.
We work to price our products responsibly so that they reflect their medical value and are accessible to people.
The protection of intellectual property underpins our research and development efforts and leads to the creation of new medicines, allowing us to further invest in and expand our Access programs. To balance the need to retain intellectual property rights with the demand for our lifesaving products, Johnson & Johnson enters into various collaborative partnerships, including royalty-free, non-exclusive licensing agreements with local organizations to develop, manufacture, and distribute our medicines at special access pricing in resource-poor settings. More specific details on several of these innovative agreements are available from the following links:
Clinical Research Ethics
Our clinical trials policies and management systems are designed to respect the human rights of trial participants. This includes monitoring how we develop trials for quality and how the trials are conducted. We do this in consultation with regulatory authorities to advance science. We have a strong record of conducting ethical, safe clinical trials, a commitment guided by our Ethical Code of Conduct for Research and Development and our approaches to Conducting Clinical Trials and Research & Development in the Developing World. We also adhere to external standards and guidelines, such as the Good Clinical Practice Guidelines of the International Conference on Harmonization, the World Medical Association’s Declaration of Helsinki and the Belmont Report.
We recognize that transparency in our clinical programs is part of our obligation to all who use or prescribe our medicines. We ensure that information about our products and investigational drugs involving patients is easily accessible. In compliance with U.S. law and our own policy on clinical trials conducted around the world, we publicly register open enrollments for our clinical studies and report clinical trials results on marketed medicines to the National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) website, ClinicalTrials.gov. We also post the same information on other public sites as required by applicable regulations around the world. We follow strict legal requirements and academic guidelines to ensure the rights of study subjects – including vulnerable populations and those who are not literate – are respected, and we work closely with our legal advisors to ensure that we adhere to robust informed consent practices. In addition, we follow special considerations to ensure the safety of pediatric participants in our clinical trials. We practice nondiscrimination in the conduct of our clinical trials, and ensure access to our products in the communities where we develop them. We expect all external research organizations conducting trials on our behalf to follow our standards. We have processes in place to monitor adherence to our various practices.
Human Rights Implementation and Oversight
We work to support our commitment to human rights through strong governance and policies as well as through the provision of clear guidelines for implementation throughout our operating companies. Responsibility for human rights follows our management structure and resides in our local operating companies. Implementation of the many policies, guidelines, and practices that inform our commitment to human rights is managed by the relevant corporate and business group functions.
We also expect our business partners to commit to respecting human rights, as outlined in our policies, and encourage them to develop similar standards of their own. We require our manufacturing partners to operate within our Responsibility Standards For Suppliers, and we regularly conduct risk-based audits of these partners to ensure compliance with these standards. In addition, we are working with industry partners as part of the Pharmaceutical Supply Chain Initiative, a collaborative effort facilitated by Business for Social Responsibility (BSR) to improve social, economic, and environmental outcomes for all those involved in the pharmaceutical supply chain.
This statement on human rights was developed with input from employees in key functional areas and from expert external stakeholders. We will continue to engage these groups as our human rights commitments and programs evolve, and will rely on them to continually challenge Johnson & Johnson on these efforts. We will strive for transparency through our annual Responsibility report and website, and we will regularly report on our progress with training and auditing activities.
For more information on Johnson & Johnson supporting policies, guidelines and statements on our human rights commitments, see:
- Our Credo
- Policy on Business Conduct
- Global Labor Employment Guidelines
- Policy on Employment of Young Persons
- Global Diversity Vision Statement
- Employment and Labor Laws and Policies
- Healthy People
- Prevention & Wellness
- Global Workplace Policy on HIV/AIDS
- Privacy and Confidentiality
- Environmental Health and Safety Policy
- Pharmaceuticals in the Environment
- Product Safety
- Ingredient Safety
- Standards for Responsible External Manufacturing
- Ethical Code of Conduct for Research and Development
- Conducting Clinical Trials
- Research & Development in the Developing World
- Genetic Research
- Global Access Programs
- Guidelines on Human Pluripotent Stem Cell Research
For more information on the external standards and guidelines that inform our commitment to human rights, see:
- Universal Declaration of Human Rights
- The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights
- The International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights
- International Labor Organization (ILO) Core Conventions
- Good Clinical Practice Guidelines of the International Conference on Harmonization
- World Medical Association’s Declaration of Helsinki
- Belmont Report
- National Academy of Sciences
William C. Weldon
Chairman, Board of Directors,
Last updated: December 2012
* Complicity is defined as assistance with, or encouragement of, human rights abuses undertaken by others.