Ethical business culture

What is Ethical business culture at AstraZeneca?

Company Values and norms, practices, standards and principles that guide the actions and behaviour of employees, including the Code of Ethics, and acting in an ethical manner that goes beyond compliance with policies and regulation. This applies across our company’s operation and our entire value chain. This issue includes bribery and corruption, responsible sales and marketing, responsible lobbying, bioethics, animal welfare, clinical trials and intellectual property.

Our approach

We strive to model an ethical business culture by going above and beyond legal requirements. This means fostering an environment where our employees can speak up if they have questions or encounter wrongdoing. We ask our leaders to demonstrate desired behaviours, and we provide employees with the tools and training to act ethically. To reinforce ethical behaviours and encourage all employees to embrace our ethical culture, we provide awards and publicly recognise employees who inspire us.

Our Code of Ethics serves as the basis for guiding our ethical culture. It was relaunched in 2017 to strengthen employee understanding and adherence by outlining our commitments in simple terms and focusing on why these commitments matter. The updated Code comprises our Company Values, expected behaviours and Global Policies. Additional requirements at the global, local and business-unit level complement our Code, providing clear guidance for employees in carrying out their daily work.

One of our company Values is to do the right thing – and we apply that to how we consider the range of ethical issues that arise from Bioethics, including the use of human biological samples (HBS), the use of animals in research, and biological resources used in R&D.

Our targets and progress

Our stories

Employees shape sustainability

At sites across the globe, we reinforce our commitment to responsible behaviour by hosting an AstraZeneca Sustainability Week. Each activity features a different aspect of sustainability, for which we emphasise accountability and how to take action.

Here are three examples:


  • At least 2.6 million patients engaged in European patient programmes to support access to healthcare
  • All EU marketing companies introduced a green fleet policy (see more in the on our Greenhouse gas reduction page)
  • AZForest introduced, with 600 trees planted
  • ‘Say no to plastic’ policy promoted and commitment made to avoid buying 350,000 plastic bottles every year starting in 2019


  • Entire month of activities
  • All 3,000 AstraZeneca Japan staff were engaged
  • Two patient-centric activities gave employees the opportunity to learn more about patients and diseases
  • Ambitious goals were exceeded:
    • 10.4% decrease in paper use achieved against a target of 10%
    • 13.3% decrease in electricity use achieved against a target of 3%


  • 10,000 AstraZeneca China staff were engaged
  • Knowledge sharing for patient support programmes, featuring smart nebulisation centre and chest pain centre
  • Committed to environmental protection with these targets for 2019:
    • Reduce energy consumption by 4% (against 2015 baseline)
    • Reduce water consumption by 40% (against 2015 baseline)
    • Increase recycling rate from 6% to 10%

Promoting our Code of Ethics through a company-wide campaign

In 2019, we expanded our Act Right Now Code of Ethics training with additional materials on sustainability topics. Our innovative training reinforces our culture of strong ethics, which is linked to the values and behaviours we expect of all of our employees. This new campaign is intended to keep the conversation alive beyond the annual Code training.

The new materials cover a wide range of subjects, from preventing bribery and working ethically with third parties, to reducing pharmaceuticals in the environment, to promoting health and wellbeing. The materials are designed to increase understanding of the active role we can all play in making AstraZeneca an ethical place to work.

See our Code of Ethics.