Embedding an ethical culture in AstraZeneca’s DNA


Motion graphics

Comms & campaigns

AstraZeneca is a global, science-led biopharmaceutical business with around 60,000 people in over 100 countries; its innovative medicines are used by millions of patients worldwide.

Far from what can often be thought of as ‘boring’ compliance training, AstraZeneca wanted a creative learning solution that would transcend physical and cultural barriers to engage its employees to live and breathe the company’s values and ethical principles, regardless of their role, department and location.

“When we set out to find a new supplier, we looked at a lot of vendors, but Sponge shone out from the rest; from the outset they were interested in us, understood what we were trying to do and shared our passion. They wanted to show us something completely different, exciting and creative.”
Louise Vamvoukaki
Louise Vamvoukaki Director of Sustainability: Education and Engagement AstraZeneca

Key challenges

  • Ensure all workers in all roles are empowered to deliver to the same high standards
  • Limited access to certain devices among sections of workforce
  • Exceed training targets of 90% completion rates within 30 days
  • Convey key compliance message in line with business objectives 
  • Engage and motivate people to support innovation as well as ethical behaviour

​The Sponge solution

Sponge used engaging, interactive digital learning, connected to everyday decision-making, to bring AstraZeneca’s Act Right Now values to life. The message was also refreshed with a new focus. Diversity, accountability and resilience were interwoven into the learning, with the ‘golden thread’ of sustainability to educate people around the care of patients, society and the planet long-term.

The 2018 Code of Ethics was also made more conceptual so that the audience, regardless of job role, location, culture, experience or device, can apply them to a broad range of situations.

Sponge’s innovative learner-centric approach was based on the latest learning theories and design principles:

  • A structure that promotes layers of engagement
  • Conveying key concepts through video scenarios that prompt an emotional response
  • People learn better when multimedia learning is presented in small, user-paced segments
  • Spaced retrieval to embed long-term learning
  • A thread of familiarity using a strong visual, and recognisable characters
  • An appropriate amount of playfulness 
  • The inclusion of conversation-based tasks to promote real-world discussions


Completion rates were up 13% in 2018 compared to the previous training in 2017; there was a 21% increase in the number of employees who completed the training on Day 1; and 23% completed the training on mobile devices.

2,226 employees completed a feedback survey which showed:

"This has been the best Code of Ethics Awareness I have ever taken.”
Employee at AstraZeneca

Let's talk

If you’re looking for a bespoke elearning solution that empowers your people to thrive in change, give us a call on 0207 967 1696 to chat through your needs.

You may also be interested in... View all insights

​3 truths about the best compliance training

Three key truths that can help organisations deliver more effective compliance training programmes, based on real life examples.

Read more

6 common mistakes people make with GDPR training

James Foster looks at where businesses are going wrong with GDPR training and highlights some of the biggest pitfalls.

Read more

GDPR: From panic to strategy in 5 easy steps

In this guide, we cover five steps to move your organisation closer to implementing a continuous learning strategy around GDPR.

Read more