The phone is on hold for a few seconds, accompanied by a cheerful and lively waltz for background music. Then, a courteous voice on the other end of the line announces that Daniele Rosa is ready for his interview.
A bright “good morning” full of energy confirms for me that this will be a pleasant exchange of ideas and points of view - almost a getting to know one another and mutual sharing - not just a simple interview.
Thus began the telephone appointment with Daniele Rosa,Director of Communications in Italy for Bayer, the pharmaceutical company that invented aspirin. With Daniele Rosa it was easy to dive straight into the topic that most interests Family and Media, without getting lost in typical interview rhetoric: How, and with what spirit, can a large pharmaceutical company contribute to improving the lives of families? Is it still possible to have a culture of service in favor of the society in which we live, as well as a concrete spirit of solidarity that is tangible and not only functional for business?
- Your brand promise is “Science For A Better Life.” This is a challenge that undoubtedly implies strong commitment and great responsibility. In what ways do you seek to always remain faithful to this promise in your daily work? Could you offer an example?
Bayer has a major presence in 75 countries around the world. Our promise of “Science for a Better Life” is addressed, of course, to each one of these countries, both the rich and the poorest and neediest. We want to contribute to helping society in this way, by giving everyone the possibility to have a more dignified life through scientific research and medical cures. This is our social message, beyond our business’ mission. Concretely, we seek to remain faithful to this promise through a daily commitment to fight against terrible sicknesses, diabetes and cancer above all. Our work does not only include pharmaceutical research. We also pay strong attention to agriculture. Nutrition, in addition to health, is in fact another important field we concentrate upon. Perhaps this attribute is less well known among the general public. There is an incredible growth in the number of people to whom we must give answers every day in terms of food. We cannot forget that the lack of safe and nutritious products is still a major problem in many Third World countries. Sustaining the growth of agriculture by fighting, for example, phenomena such as desertification and the earth’s erosion through research and technological innovation, is for us a very important strategic asset, one of our ways to help society.
- For a healthcare company such as yours, we believe it is important to care about people not only from a commercial and strategic stand point, but also from an ethical point of view based on solidarity. How much, and in what ways, is the family at the center of your world, your values, and your manner of working? Could you give an example?
Companies are realizing more and more that, beyond business, they cannot neglect the sense of social responsibility that they have towards not only their clients and stakeholders, but also their employees and in general towards society itself. This sense of social responsibility has always existed in Bayer, and not only for business motives. It is part of our DNA. Let me give you a concrete example. With the start of EXPO, the World Fair addressing the topic of safe and sufficient food for everyone being held in Milan from May to October, more than 20 million visitors are expected in that city. It is predicted that traffic will increase considerably by more than 20%, with a consequent increase in difficulty of reaching the work place, as can easily be imagined. Together with union representatives, we led a project called FLEXpo that will involve more than 500 of Bayer’s employees in Milan, with the goal of promoting and facilitating mobility between home and work during EXPO months. In this way, employees will have the advantage of reducing the time and cost of their travel, in order to better reconcile their work and personal lives. This is one of our greatest satisfactions: remaining coherent with our brand promise of making life better for everyone—in this case, for our employees. But I would like to offer another concrete example, if possible, of how and how much we care about the family and social life. I call it our “business welfare…”
- Yes, please. We are interested in examples of specific actions regarding the daily life of families.
Certainly! Always on the topic of families, we decided to offer our employees’ families takeaway food from our company cafeteria at preferential prices. Many of our employees, often due to work, come home late in the evening without time for shopping or cooking. Having good meals to bring home, already cooked and at excellent prices, is a small way for us to help. This small help however, together with many other similar initiatives—paternity leave is another that comes to mind—is a real contribution that helps to improve our employees’ lives. One last thing: in our social communication we have always tried to use content with high social values. For this reason, throughout the years we have used films of our own production to tell different stories aimed at sensitizing the public to topics that we hold close to heart such as immigration, safety on the roads, and alcohol abuse, to cite just a few. This is another of Bayer’s concrete commitments to the community.
- Bayer is famous around the world for aspirin, a drug that every family keeps at home in case of need. Playing with words, if you could speak of a “social aspirin”—or the equivalent of a “magic pill” for today’s society, families, young people, and in general anyone with difficulty—what would come to mind?
Sincerely speaking, there are no magic pills for these types of problems, or at least they haven’t been invented yet. Jokes aside, I would say that it is perhaps enough to be coherent in our actions, to remain faithful to promises we make to the community. If everyone does their work well—institutions, businesses, associations, universities—perhaps there is no need for “social aspirin.” I believe that our society, and in the first place the family understood as a social unit, has an ever greater need for a culture of service, with a gaze towards those who remain behind. Not a paternalistic gaze, but one of love and solidarity.
- To conclude, we recently placed online a playful article, though with a serious aim, called “Good Digital Resolutions for this Year.” Between avalanches of daily emails, WhatsApp messages, and Facebook notifications, perhaps it is worthwhile to stop a moment and think about what is truly necessary, and what is not. What would your “good resolutions” be?
Managing to pull technology’s plug is truly difficult, both in private and professional life. By now we are always on, perennially connected with everything and everyone. Social networks, internet, e-mail, and cell phones are all instruments that have broken into our lives without us realizing it, so much so that it is difficult to do without them. Technology is a good thing, but I believe that—as with everything in life—our common sense must give it the correct meaning. Perhaps, among the avalanches of emails, messages, and phone calls, we should take more care to seek real relationships, and not just connections. My resolution continues to be having time to respond to anyone who seeks me by telephone. For me it is a matter of principle and manners. My good resolution for this year is precisely that: to continue upon that road.