Editor’s Note: Johnson & Johnson Group Worldwide Chairman Sandi Peterson spoke at Gilda’s Club New York City’s 19th Anniversary Benefits Gala on Thursday evening at the Pierre Hotel in New York. Johnson & Johnson was honored by the group with its Corporate Vision Award. Gilda’s Club New York City, named after comedian Gilda Radner, supports cancer patients and their families. Sandi’s remarks from the event are shared below.
It is a real pleasure to be here tonight and a true privilege to accept the Gilda’s Club Corporate Vision Award on behalf of Johnson & Johnson. I’m grateful to my J&J colleagues all over the world for the amazing work they do which you are recognizing here tonight — and for the presence of the J&J folks who were able to join us this evening. I also want to say a special thank you to the many friends and colleagues who have come out tonight and made such a good showing to support this great cause.
I’m especially grateful to be sharing this evening with my sons, Geoffrey and Henry. They, more than anyone else, understand why the mission of Gilda’s Club – “To support, educate and empower cancer patients and their families” – resonates with me so deeply. It was actually nine years ago this month that they lost their father and I lost my husband, Karl, following a long and hard fought battle with cancer.
That experience taught us a lot of things, but paramount among those is that cancer is not a disease that strikes an individual; it’s a disease that strikes a family. Whether they are engaged in a battle they will win, or a battle they will ultimately lose, patients and families touched by cancer need a huge amount of social, emotional and practical help – the kind of help that Gilda’s Club has been providing for almost 20 years.
Dorothy Day once said, “We have all known the long loneliness and we have learned that the only solution is love and that love comes with community.” My family and I know how critical understanding, connection and community are when cancer strikes. Gilda’s Club has been that community for so many patients, partners, children, parents and caregivers here in New York, and the city is immeasurably enriched by your compassion and commitment.
At Johnson & Johnson, we too, take our responsibilities to patients and to communities seriously. In fact, long before the contemporary concept of “corporate social responsibility” came into vogue — back in 1943 — Robert Wood Johnson articulated a set of principles and beliefs in a document known as the Johnson & Johnson Credo. 71 years later, the values he set forth in the Credo still guide our business decisions and express the animating spirit of our company. In fact, the “vision” being honored tonight with this Corporate Vision Award really belongs to the 134,000 Johnson & Johnson employees around the world who are passionate about improving human life and well-being. Those of us who are privileged to be part of the leadership at J&J, and the billion people whose lives are touched every day by our products, programs and services are the beneficiaries of the vision and desire to make a difference that are embodied in our Credo.
We at J&J share with Gilda’s Club the understanding that cancer is a disease that affects more than your body. It affects the whole person, the whole family and the whole community. We envision a world where cancer is a preventable, chronic or curable disease and we are focused on developing solutions that prolong and improve patients’ live across a broad continuum — from prevention, diagnosis and treatment – to the return to wellness. Every day we put our energy into developing breakthrough oncology treatments, educating healthcare providers, and empowering patients and with disease and lifestyle information. Every day, we produce consumer products that help people stay well and that meet the highest possible standards of safety and quality. Taken together, this work is what perpetuates the promise of the Johnson & Johnson brand. Consumers and patients know that they can trust J&J to always do the right thing.
Like many of the men and women in the J&J family, when I joined the company two years ago, I was drawn in part by the culture’s strong values based foundation and the opportunity to be part of an entity that’s having a real impact on people in ways that matter. I know from personal experience that when you or a loved one are facing cancer that nothing matters more. I’m delighted to accept this award for J&J. And I know my colleagues would agree that it is humbling to be recognized by an organization like Gilda’s Club which touches people’s lives in such a powerful way every day.