Screen on floor of the first session
Geoff Kendall facilitates a table
Values etched in glass
Flew to Copenhagen on Thursday evening, for a stakeholder session yesterday – exploring where Novo Nordisk might head next in its sustainability thinking and ambitions.
Arrived very late at the Phoenix Hotel, but luckily found Polly Cortice just checking in – and joined her and Jonathon Porritt for a delightful supper.
The full session the following day was facilitated by Rob Cameron and Geoff Kendall of SustainAbility. In introducing myself up front, for the outsiders and the Novo Nordisk people, I said I had realised the previous evening that I had now worked, off and on, with Novo Nordisk for 25 years.
In 1989, the company’s then-president Mads Ovlisen invited Julia Hailes and I in to do an early environmental audit of the company, in the wake of the publication of The Green Consumer Guide, which had caused problems for the industrial enzymes side of the business.
The company has changed profoundly since, spinning out its enzymes business, rechartering itself around the Triple Bottom Line, and growing like fury. and the growth looks set to continue. In the next 9 years, for example, it is set to grow from just over 40,000 people to around 60,000.
But the values we were impressed by way back in 1989 remain largely unchanged – though various of the external stakeholders wondered how Novo Nordisk can reconcile further growth (which will drive it up the ranks of global pharmaceutical companies) with its values.
In the afternoon, the Sustainability Committee, which Lise Kingo chairs, joined us for an animated – and animating – discussion. The proceedings were subject to the Chatham House Rule, so much of the detail must remain under wraps until Novo Nordisk publishes the results.
On the flight back, I finished off Helen Macdonald’s wonderful book, H Is For Hawk. Quite simply, it is superb – and deeply intertwined with T.H. White’s The Goshawk, which I read in my early teens (though I confess I failed to realise then just how much abuse White unwittingly did to his hawk.)