awards

Alex Gorsky
September 24, 2015
Well, thank you very much. Although I must admit when Rabbi Schneier and I first started talking a couple years ago and he mentioned tonight, that he didn't let me know that the Pope was going to be in town that I was going to have to follow Muhtar, Larry and Steve with all these other very dignified guests. That's a pretty high bar, Rabbi, with you as well.

But I'll tell you, I just could not be more honored to be here on the 50th anniversary of the foundation. I mean to be here when so much is going on in our world, to be standing for principles like freedom of religion, like tolerance, like a lack of violence is pretty remarkable. And frankly, I don't know many other cities in the world other than New York City, how fortunate we are to be here on a night like tonight with the Pope a few blocks away and to be doing something like this. I think it's a great statement about this city.

I want to start off with just a couple of things. First, thanks to all of you for being here. It wasn't a small feat getting here through all the security and everything else, and for you to make the effort to be here, to come out says a lot. I really want to thank all of our partners, people from Deloitte, from IBM and others who also are definitely making a commitment being here. Cathy, one of the coolest new CEOs out there does a great job. Thank you so much, Cathy Engelbert.

And also a big thanks to my friend Lew Pell because without him I would not be here tonight. An innovator, one of the best there is, thank you very much, Lew. I'd be remiss if I didn't say one quick story because it's so humbling to be here and recognized with so many great people. But I'd be remiss if I didn't tell a quick story.

As you noticed, I had the good fate and opportunity to sit between Steve Schwarzman and Madam President of Croatia. And just about a hundred years ago, a 16-year-old named Millie, my grandmother, emigrated from Croatia and came over on a boat with about $25 in her pocket. Met other family members, not close family members but I'm talking second and third cousins in Kansas City, Kansas. She worked in a sausage factory, raised five daughters, and for her to think that her grandson would be here tonight is pretty remarkable. So Madam President, it's wonderful to share that great heritage of your country. Thank you.

I'm incredibly fortunate to be associated with a company like Johnson and Johnson. As Steve said, most of you probably know us for baby shampoo and baby powder. In fact, you probably smell it right now when I said that. And while we love those products, the fact is that we're involved in just about every aspect of healthcare. Like Larry was saying earlier, we get a chance to travel around the world and whether I'm in China, whether I'm in Japan, whether I'm in Chile, whether I'm in Minneapolis, business leaders, healthcare leaders, everyone right now is concerned about this issue where it's a little bit of the best of times and the worst of times.

On one hand, when you think about aging populations, when you think about increasing middle classes, when you think about the demands for increased healthcare, for access, for better care to live longer and healthier, happier lives, it's putting incredible strain on governments and healthcare systems around the world. On the other hand I must tell you that one of the greatest parts of my job is being able to travel around with scientists like Dr. Paul Stoffels sitting in front of you who in the early 1980s worked in the Belgian Congo with HIV, when if you were diagnosed with HIV, your life expectancy was perhaps expected to be two more years. Today much due to the work of Paul and other great scientists around the world developing tremendous medications, it takes two years off the average life if you're treated in the right way.

And to be exposed to those kinds of breakthroughs in technology, and I can tell you, we're seeing so many of those right now taking place, we couldn’t be in a more exciting time. And so that's the kind of thing that I know that motivates the 130,000 employees of Johnson and Johnson each and every day to get up and do their very best.

Now the other reason I'm so proud to work for the company is because right before we went public, Steve mentioned the date about 71 years ago, our founder Dr. Robert Wood Johnson, he was actually a little bit paranoid. And he was paranoid because it had been a family company up until that point in time and it was going public. He was concerned it might lose its way. And he wrote a simple document, about 143 words called the Johnson and Johnson Credo. And in it he talked about our responsibility and I think this, Larry, is very consistent with some of the things that you were talking about.

He said our first obligations are the patients, the mothers and fathers, the doctors and nurses who use our products. The second obligation that we have is to our employees, to make sure that they have a good place to work, that they could be treated decently. And remember, this was in the '40s when the labor relations between management and others wasn't necessarily what it is today.

And third, he said we have an obligation and responsibility to conduct our business to give back to the communities in which we live. And again, this was long before corporate social responsibility was a buzzword. And last he placed the shareholder. And by the way, he owned the largest number of shares of our stock at the time. But he said if you do those first three things, the shareholders should get a fair return.
And we'll be the first one to say we don't always get it right, but we work very hard to do our best to live up to the aspiration, the inspiration that that credo is. And so with that, let me end and just say thank you. As all of you know who are fortunate enough to receive an award like this, it's really not about us at all, it's about the great companies, the great organizations that we have a chance to work for. And I could not be prouder of those employees, many of them right here tonight, of Johnson and Johnson. And we're honored to be with you here, Rabbi, as part of this very important event. Thank you so much, everyone.
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