Blog / / Socially responsible business as company face
Socially responsible business as company face
Ronald Seeliger CEO of Hemofarm AD
Socially responsible business as company face
Yes, it is true, a business can be good and profitable and responsible at the same time. Successful, yet caring and sustainable. Record-breaking, and yet humane; and yes, it is true – social responsibility is the company face in this, 21st century.

I arrived in Serbia as far back as 2011 and I am still here, where it all began, in Hemofarm. For almost an entire decade, I have lived my life on the Berlin-Belgrade-Vršac course. To be honest, people close to me knew very little about life in Serbia in the beginning. They were mostly aware of some political details, while they did not know much about economic and social developments. Today, my children are leading promoters of Hemofarm in German environment and they are especially proud of the fact that their father works for a company which helps its community in various ways: from providing aid to hospitals, providing support to a number of organisations, to concrete actions regarding environmental protection. On this note, as I have mentioned the ‘green activities’, I would like to note that my daughter joined me on the occasion when we were planting trees in Šabac.

I am not going to dispute what many experts claim to be true: that corporate social responsibility appeared in the end of the last century as the corporate world felt the need to make up its image and reduce the negative aspects of business practices of that time. However, it seems to me that it turned out as it usually happens when you get ‘infected’ by good things – you cannot discontinue that string.

Today, in 21st century, it is simply negligent to be socially irresponsible, and in one or two decades’ time it will be impossible to run a business on a global market if your business operation is not responsible and sustainable. Today already, there is no successful business which is not socially responsible. It may be possible to operate without this for a short time but in the long run, it is already not possible or it will be absolutely impossible soon, mainly due to shareholders’ or clients’ righteous pressure and demand.

What I want to say is this: as much as profit is the guiding principle, we are still expected to ponder over the community (internal and external) in which that business is sustaining. It must be pointed out that you cannot be responsible towards the external community without being responsible towards your employees. One fact is often neglected – corporate social responsibility means that you are, first of all, responsible towards your own people, that you build a business environment in which their rights are observed and in which you give them a chance to develop. This is the special charm of CSR as they call it – in feedback, it helps corporate functions of the company itself and contributes to their sustainability. It adorns it with that pretty, humane face and it brings is closer to people, apparently enriching both the community and the company itself.

I am going to illustrate this in the example of the current coronavirus pandemic. In order to get ready for the coming crisis, Hemofarm reacted fast and first in our own yard in the beginning of March already. We established the crisis team, invented new procedures, raised the level of protection to the highest degree, secured conditions for safe work of about 2,000 of our employees in production, packaging and logistics, as well as remote work for hundreds of people. You can imagine how demanding a task that was for a company of our size. Our goal was to provide enough medicines for the patients in Serbia, which meant maximum engagement of manufacturing capacities and 24/7 operation, while the main condition was to ensure that our employees stay healthy. Once we put everything in its place, right at the time when the state of emergency was declared in Serbia, together with our mother company, STADA, we embarked on completing the following task – helping the wider community. We did that by having donated 150 patient monitors to Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Montenegro, the countries in which our plants are located. This activity was accompanied by Hemofarm Foundation which provided financial aid to Vršac and Šabac, cities in which our production plants are located. I wish to point out the following: as a company, you must before all be responsible towards your own employees and the key public (in our case patients). In other words, you cannot be a responsible company if you leave sick people without medicines, and your employees without adequate protective measures.

This is why a business must be wise. This is where the responsibility we are talking about is reflected. This kind of imperative leads you further, towards a good interaction with the wider community. Remember my mention of the children at the beginning of this account – today’s young generation, a mighty segment of population, pays special attention to what you do for others and this largely determines their attitude towards a company. This exactly is the recently mentioned face based on which the millennials in particular decide whether you will have their trust or not.

I want to say the following – corporate responsibility is here to stay; and it is only going to grow and advance further.

Hemofarm was a socially responsible company even at the time before this term was coined. We celebrate our 60th birthday this year. In addition to marking the success of our business ventures, continuous growth and breaking records in business, we are also going to celebrate the decades of responsibility towards ourselves and others. What I am especially proud of is that we have given and helped sincerely, always wholeheartedly. Both we, and our Foundation. When the time comes to blow our birthday candles, my wish is for us to be remembered and valued by those deeds in particular.
Ronald Seeliger
CEO of Hemofarm AD