Caring for human rights

As a global health care company, we improve access to affordable, high-quality health care in many countries:

  • Fresenius Medical Care provides a dialysisDialysisForm of renal replacement therapy where a semipermeable membrane – in peritoneal dialysis the peritoneum of the patient, in hemo­dialysis the membrane of the dialyzer – is used to clean a patient’s blood. treatment somewhere around the globe every 0.6 seconds.

  • Fresenius Kabi enables patients with medical needs to access modern therapies and affordable health care with a broad range of generic and biosimilar products.

  • Fresenius Helios has invested more than € 2 billion in the modernization and development of clinical services in Germany and Spain in the past five years, and thereby contributes to comprehensive high-quality health care.

  • Fresenius Vamed is operating in countries in which the development of health care infrastructure is still at an early stage. Through this, Fresenius Vamed contributes decisively to facilitating access to health care facilities for patients.

We support these efforts with additional initiatives and projects worldwide:

  • Fresenius Medical Care, in cooperation with the Sustainable Kidney Care Foundation, supports projects that give patients with acute kidney failure access to dialysis treatment in regions without an existing care structure.

  • Fresenius Kabi supports the JumpStart Research Grant and thus supports young scientists in their research in the field of parenteral nutrition.

  • Fresenius Helios Germany, in cooperation with the aid organization Friedensdorf International, offers free treatment for children from crisis countries in German Helios clinics.

  • Fresenius Vamed contributes to the improvement of health care for newborns and mothers by modernizing maternity wards in rural areas in Kenya, equipping the wards with modern medical devices and training local personnel as part of a project by the Austrian government.

Overcoming language barriers with video interpreting: Important questions about previous illnesses, details of the diagnosis and possible therapy options are difficult to convey if both – patient and doctor – do not speak the same language.

We are committed to respecting and supporting the observance of human rights as they are defined by international standards, such as the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Fundamental Principles as published by the International Labor Organization (ILO)1. We consider this part of our responsibility as a company.

In 2018, we adopted a Group-wide human rights statement. It contains aspects of human rights that are of special importance for Fresenius. Our activities serve to respect human rights and shall support their protection. We strive to continuously develop these activities.

We are currently carrying out a Group-wide project on human rights due diligence in which we identify human rights issues and fields of action that are particularly relevant to the value chains by conducting an analysis in all business segments. In doing so, we take into account the business models of the segments, current public discussions, e.g., from non-governmental organizations and the general public, as well as current regulatory developments, such as the National Action Plans on Business and Human Rights. We plan to prioritize the identified fields of action and to start the implementation of first measures in 2020.

In our human rights statement, we express our position on the following areas in relation to human rights:

  • No exploitative nor illegal child nor forced labor

    Taking responsibility for our employees is part of the corporate self-conception of the whole Fresenius Group. We do not tolerate the use or threat of violence, or any other form of coercion. In particular, we are dedicated to protecting children from exploitation. We strictly forbid using, supporting, or approving of exploitative and illegal child or forced labor. Processes in the local entities of all business segments serve to adhere to applicable laws on the prevention of exploitative and illegal child or forced labor. We expect our business partners to comply with these laws. Where it is required by local laws, we confirm compliance with these laws on the websites of our local entities.

  • Standing against discrimination and promoting equal opportunity

    We support equal opportunities and take a clear stand against discrimination. No one may ever be discriminated against, e. g., for their skin color, race, gender, religion, political views, age, physical constitution, sexual orientation, appearance, or other personal characteristics. We also do not tolerate discrimination due to membership in unions or works councils. We interact openly, fairly, and appreciatively. All business segments have embedded these principles in their codes of conduct. Fresenius Kabi has established shared company values for all employees that form a worldwide common understanding of its corporate culture. They emphasize the importance of respectful collaboration among all employees. The values are part of the Code of Conduct and the quality management handbook at Fresenius Kabi. To promote equal opportunity, Fresenius Helios particularly emphasizes the compatibility of family and work, especially for employees working in shifts and on-call duty, and offers or supports child care. With these and other exemplary initiatives, we foster a company culture without discrimination at Fresenius.

  • Creating safe working conditions

    We are committed to ensuring that the necessary safety measures are taken and that working conditions are fair and safe for all our employees. We want to provide a healthy and productive place to work for our employees.

  • Respecting the right of freedom of association and collective bargaining

    Fresenius respects the freedom of association and the right to collective bargaining. Our employees can join labor unions, seek representation, and engage in collective bargaining in accordance with local laws. We foster open and direct communication within our workforce and strictly oppose any discrimination, as stated in our Code of Conduct. No one shall be discriminated against at the workplace due to membership of unions or works councils.

  • Protecting personal data

    We respect the privacy of every person and feel accountable for the personal data of our patients, employees, customer groups, and suppliers. At the same time, our patients expect adequate protection of their data. We are aware of our responsibility within this especially trusted relationship. This guides our procedures in handling patient data. All business segments and Fresenius SE & Co. KGaA have implemented comprehensive Data Protection Management Systems, which ensure responsible handling of the data we receive.

  • Considering the influence on our environment

    It is also part of our joint responsibility to protect nature as the basis of life, to preserve resources, and to reduce our impact on the environment. It is our mutual duty to protect resources for future generations. We aim to comply with applicable legal requirements. In addition, we are constantly developing our environmental pro­tection measures. You will find additional information here.

  • Taking responsibility in our supply chain

    We expect our suppliers and business partners to commit to ethical standards of conduct in daily business, towards employees, society, and the environment. This also includes the described areas in relation to respecting human rights. You can find more information on how we take responsibility in our supply chain.

The human rights statement is a self-commitment, which is valid for all business segments and Fresenius SE & Co. KGaA. It complements the commitments and principles regarding respecting human rights, which all business segments have included in their Codes of Conduct.

The safety of our patients is our priority. Worldwide, millions of them rely on the quality of our care. Therefore, the following applies for all business segments. When we recognize indications of deficiencies and limitations in our products, therapies, or processes, we make them transparent and take necessary actions. When conducting clinical studies, too, our first priority is the safety of our patients. We observe ethical, medical, and legal requirements. When we recognize any indications of deviations, we respond. We keep awareness of our values and principles of conduct up to date through regular classroom or online training on the respective Code of Conduct for our employees and managers.

Operational implementation and assessment of our activities are the responsibility of the respective functions within the business segments. Measures such as training on the Codes of Conduct or reporting mechanisms are supported by the Compliance Management Systems. You will find details on this in the chapter Doing the right thing. In addition, checks are also conducted as part of internal audits.

Employees of all business segments and Fresenius SE & Co. KGaA, as well as external partners can report potential violations, also related to human rights aspects, via whistle­blower hotlines or e-mail addresses. In addition, employees can report their concerns directly to their superiors. Additional information on reporting possibilities is described in the chapter on the Compliance Management Systems. If we have information on potential violations, we take necessary measures.

We take the results of internal reviews and reports as an opportunity to review our company processes for improvements of our internal processes and implement corrective or improvement measures.

No events with a material adverse impact were recorded in the business year that conflict with our goal of respecting human rights.

For more information see the Non-financial Report.