How Johnson & Johnson Is Dealing With Its Trust Issues
Johnson & Johnson, the 133-year-old healthcare conglomerate behind Band-Aids, hip implants, and the new Ebola vaccine, has been under fire recently for contributing to a world of hurt. The New Jersey-based drugmaker has faced multimillion judgments over its role in the nation’s opioid epidemic as well its talc-containing baby powder product, which plaintiffs claimed caused their cancer.
Gorsky, who spoke via Skype at the Fortune Global Forum in Paris on Monday, avoided commenting on those matters directly, but acknowledged the importance of transparency in healthcare and emphasized J&J’s track record of taking care of patients. When there are incidents, he said, “We do our best to resolve them in a manner that’s good for all stakeholders.”
He added, “At the same time, when frankly the headlines aren’t consistent with the underlying data of science, it’s important to take a stand.” (Though it recalled asbestos-containing baby powder in October, J&J has maintained the product is safe.)
Gorsky is chair of the Business Roundtable’s governance committee and was a driving force behind the organization’s new mission statement that redefines the purpose of corporations. He acknowledged on Monday that mistrust in business is high. “That’s why it is so incumbent upon business leaders to be absolutely transparent. We try to make sure we’re providing information 24/7 so people can access it and people can come to their own conclusions,” he said.
He also advised the audience of business leaders on the importance of engagement; in “telling your story.”
“It can’t only be in situations of response,” he said, “but it has to be an ongoing dialogue that you have with all your stakeholders, to make sure they’re aware of what you’re doing—particularly in areas like job creation and the environment where they may not have quite the same understanding.”
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