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Side-by-side on UCB’s sustainability journey

PwC bolsters UCB’s credibility in how it measures and discloses its impact, making sure it’s done in a transparent and authentic way.

Sustainability spells strategy

UCB doesn’t have a standalone sustainability strategy. Within the global biopharmaceutical company, sustainability imbues everything the firm does and how it does it. 

"If sustainability isn’t within your overall strategy, it’s hard to push throughout the organisation. Sustainability has to be part of your DNA. If you’ve got a separate sustainability strategy, you’ve already lost. Within UCB, sustainability IS our business approach," explains Veronique Toully, Global Head of Sustainability.

Within the global biopharmaceutical company, sustainability imbues everything the firm does and how it does it.

Maximising societal value

Her role is testament to the seriousness with which the firm takes its commitment to maximising societal value. "We were already doing a lot. It was far from a blank page to start from, but we slightly adjusted our approach," Veronique Toully recalls. In 2019, the firm’s purpose was refreshed to become "We create value for patients now and into the future in order to reinforce our commitment to sustainability and to future generations."

As a 90-year-old company, UCB has a strong historical foundation. Its purpose builds on that and demonstrates its commitment to creating value for patients in the future in a sustainable way.  "Our aim is to provide better differential medicine for patients who need it. For ALL patients who need it, wherever they are," Veronique Toully notes. She adds, "We’ve moved on from trying to reach as many patients as we can to endeavour to make sure every patient who needs our medicines can access them, in a way which is viable for patients, society and UCB. It’s a subtle difference, but a very important one."

UCB also evolved to focus on all stakeholders. "We started approaching value creation with a more intentional mindset,” she says.

Sustainability in action: To define its key focus areas to help it maximise its societal impact

Sustainability in action

To define its key focus areas to help it maximise its societal impact, UCB spoke with 80 different stakeholders, 40 within the firm and 40 outside. Based on their interviews, four pillars were identified and two enablers. 

The pillars are to continuously innovate to bring differentiated medicines to patients, improve patient access to UCB solutions, promote employee safety, health and wellbeing and minimise the firm’s environmental footprint. The drivers are diversity and inclusion and ethical business practices, which are both embraced in how the company does business and is managed internally.

Measuring value creation

PwC’s been part of UCB’s sustainability journey for many years. "We're always looking to improve our impact. You can have the best story, but you need to measure the impact you’re having too. That’s where PwC comes in.  It has real expertise in helping companies to measure value creation," Veronique Toully says. 

PwC has enabled UCB to identify the solid and thorough key performance indicators (KPIs) that UCB should use to measure its impact that also enable it to disclose the value it creates in a transparent and authentic way to all stakeholders.

"It’s thanks to the way we work together that we’ve been able to come as far as we have already."

Veronique Toully Global Head of Sustainability, UCB.

Bringing our expertise to bear

Veronique Toully refers to what’s being measured as 'extra-financials', rather than non-financials, as they’re more commonly known. 

"A company’s financials and extra-financials all add up to the total value it creates. Measuring the financials is now standard and there are frameworks in place to make sure this is done correctly. Extra-financials are more tricky as there’s no standard framework to use. PwC’s well versed in all aspects of sustainable activities and knows exactly what’s happening in terms of the regulatory environment too. It brings its considerable expertise on the topic to bear to the benefit of UCB," enthuses Veronique Toully.

One of the most critical characteristics of an auditor is to guarantee independence

Maintaining our independence

One of the most critical characteristics of an auditor is to guarantee independence, something that Veronique Toully believes PwC achieves incredibly well while also helping the firm move forward on its sustainability journey. 

"We've very open and honest discussions with PwC experts. They always ask good questions. This is a true partnership, while PwC strictly maintains its required independence as our auditor. It’s thanks to the way we work together that we’ve been able to come as far as we have already," Veronique Toully explains. Going forward, UCB will continue to call on PwC's extensive knowledge of the regulatory environment to see how it can leverage developments to further maximise the value it adds to society as a whole.

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Marc  Daelman

Marc Daelman

Partner, PwC Belgium

Tel: +32 477 50 00 38

Reinout De Clercq

Reinout De Clercq

Director, PwC Belgium

Tel: +32 474 71 18 29

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