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A Holistic Approach to Ensure Lasting Success: A Q&A with Jessie Newman on Sustainability
Fresenius Medical Care continues to develop its Global Sustainability Program, including new climate targets announced earlier this year. Stemming from the overarching goal of providing excellent patient care, our focus on sustainability means continuously innovating and improving to make medical, social, and environmental progress for generations to come.
In this Q&A with Jessie Newman, senior director of Sustainability and Community for Fresenius Medical Care North America, we explore the company’s vision on sustainability and what it means for the future of the business.
Q: What does sustainability mean to Fresenius Medical Care and how does the company see sustainability being part of its future success?’
JN: I’m a baker in my free time and I hope you’ll forgive the analogy, but I think it helps explain our approach to sustainability. If I know I have to bring loaves of bread to a party this weekend, I start working with my sourdough starter a few days in advance to develop the best flavor and texture possible and to make sure I have enough dough to make the right amount of bread for all the guests — and maybe a little left over for me to keep!
Sustainability is similar in that we’re preparing our business today to meet the needs of our patients in the future. I know that for many people, sustainability is synonymous with environmentalism. But, here at Fresenius Medical Care, we think of sustainability in the broader sense of the term to include all material aspects of our business that impact the world around us. To us, sustainability represents a duty toward our environment, but also toward our patients, employees, and society at large. As such, our Global Sustainability Program is comprised of eight pillars: patients, employees, environment, anti-bribery and corruption, data protection and information security, human and labor rights, occupational health and safety, and supply chain. When you reflect on each of these pillars, it’s clear that if any one of them isn’t well managed, there can be serious consequences impacting our ability to make sure future generations can meet their own needs. So, sustainability is really about how we, as a company, take responsible actions today that benefit our patients, communities, employees, physicians, and other stakeholders in the long run.
Since sustainability is about long-term impact, we constantly reassess, report, and adjust our sustainability plan as needed. For example, data privacy and security continue to make headline news as data breaches affect businesses. One way we assure our stakeholders that we’re managing that topic closely is by engaging our employees in training on how to avoid data breaches and disclosing our training figures in our reporting. These trainings are part of a broader strategy that help us act transparently and assure stakeholders that everyone at Fresenius Medical Care takes privacy seriously.
We have prioritized diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiatives across the globe to promote a strong, innovative work culture. In North America, we were named one of America’s Most Loved Workplaces by Newsweek, placing in the top 100 due to our emphasis on DEI leadership. Our employees have started new Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) that meet based on common shared interests. In the United States, we have 14 ERGs dedicated to different employee interests and aspects of diversity.
Q: You mention transparency. Clearly, measuring progress will be important to both demonstrate results and evaluate future needs. How is Fresenius Medical Care measuring sustainability?
JN: The two main ways we’re measuring sustainability are Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and targets. KPIs give an indication of how much we have achieved toward our environmental, social, and governance goals. We use targets to assure stakeholders that we are focused on longer-term improvements, and we report our progress along the way.
Measurement and reporting fosters trust across our diverse stakeholder audience and helps us grow in ways that continuously innovate and improve our business.
Each year, Fresenius Medical Care publishes a Non-Financial Group Report to document sustainability performance for the year. This document discloses information about each of the eight pillars, so anyone can take a deep dive into our sustainability program.
We also report performance through the Global Reporting Initiative, the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures, and the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board, all of which help simplify the data and are available online.
Finally, the Fresenius Medical Care North America division uses its sustainability webpages to share stories important to the North America region and demonstrate how we act locally to support our global program. For example, we believe we have a responsibility to support the communities we serve through our community relations programs and partnerships with organizations like the Renal Support Network and the Dialysis Patient Citizens Education Center.
Q: What does Fresenius Medical Care's commitment to sustainability mean for patients?
JN: Our patients are our North Star, so everything we do is with patient safety and satisfaction in mind.
Focusing on and across each of the sustainability pillars means we will be there for our patients for the long term. While programs like employee diversity, occupational health and safety, and our environmental commitment may each seem separate and distinct from our patient community, they each help to ensure we’re a healthy, innovative, thriving organization that continues to provide superior patient care.
Q: Fresenius Medical Care recently announced climate targets: climate neutrality by 2040, CO2 emissions to fall 50 percent by 2030. How were those targets decided upon, and how will the company reach them?
JN: This was an important announcement for us and quite exciting to share. Setting targets like these wasn’t done in a vacuum, it required a lot of coordination — both between employees in regions across the globe as well as different departments within the company. Our team spent the better part of the last two and a half years analyzing our data and formulating a strategy so that when we were ready to announce our commitments, we could be confident in our ability to achieve them together.
The main way we aim to reach these targets in the coming years is by using virtual Power Purchase Agreements, which are long-term agreements to purchase renewable energy certificates from renewable energy developers. Buying and investing in renewable energy helps decrease dependency on fossil fuels and nuclear energy.
As we get further along, we’ll reevaluate our options to see which are optimal for reaching our targets within our set timeframe and budget.
To read more about sustainability at Fresenius Medical Care, visit www.freseniusmedicalcare.com/en/about-us/sustainability/our-commitment.