You Don’t Need to be a Healthcare Company to Care for Health

Recently, I’ve been writing about ethics and how an organization embraces an ethical obligation, even when it seemingly conflicts with the bottom line.

Along these same lines, I’ve been seeing many organizations that have taken active steps to push ahead with a CSR initiative in a way that supports both the stakeholder and the community at large.  There is a growing understanding that positive societal and environmental outcomes need to be a part of a company’s mission.

Take Unilever as an example.  This month, the company’s food service arm, Unilever Food Solutions, is campaigning among restaurants to cut 100 calories from top selling entrees.  The goal is to remove 10 million calories from top restaurant menu items across North America. In a society where the obsession with food is significantly impacting the health of the nation, this is a goodwill service that Unilever has taken on.  Unilever Food Services offers services to the restaurant industry so there is surely a potential for business benefit here too.

While Unilever is addressing health from the standpoint of the consumer, most companies view their obligation to health in terms of their employees.  Healthy employees bring benefits in terms of lower benefit costs and also in terms of an increased capacity to be fully productive for your organization.

The American Heart Association notes that poor diet and lack of exercise are responsible for at least 25 percent of healthcare costs incurred by working adults, so investing in the health of the employee, seems like a smart choice.

Here at BT we’ve taken steps to ensure health and safety is a key component of our people strategy. We expanded our public reporting to include guidelines for employee wellness and engagement.  Our Work Fit program has been designed with the aim of “helping you to help yourself.” It is a joint initiative with the our unions and works councils to promote small changes that will have a long term impact on health and well being. You can learn more about our program here.

We address health through our relationships with government and business customers (national and private healthcare). In our 2012 Better Future report you can see examples of how our ICT services have helped deliver better services for patients in the UK and around the world.  In ‘Coming Soon: the Big Trade-Off’ in the New York times this past Sunday, Thomas Friedman identifies that breakthroughs like remote diagnosis equipment in every home and sensors in clothes to track physical indicators around the clock  are part of the solution to supporting our aging population (that will be you and me one day).

I think that all too often health is considered to be someone else’s issue – whether it is HR or the individual – but in reality, it is an overall CR issue that needs to be considered within every organization.

What is your organization doing to integrate employee well being with corporate goals?

  1. Comments 2

  2. Cathie Guthrie 1:47 pm on August 5, 2012

    Kevin, I share your perspective on the company's responsibility for the health and well-being of its employees. The BT Work Fit program appears to be demonstrating some much appreciated thought leadership on the issue. While I am a supporter, I have not quite wrapped my head around the ethical conversation associated with genetic predisposition to certain chronic diseases, incentives and rewards and non-participating employees. Perhaps you can say something further on this substantive subject. Thanks! Cathie Guthrie

  3. KevinMoss 7:45 am on August 6, 2012

    Hi Cathie, thanks for your comment. I am afraid that genetic predisposition is a medical ethics topic that I think is too specialist for my background in the IT and communications world. I did do a post once on whether the US healthcare debate should be more of an issue for CSR practitioners, but not ready tackle genetic ethics yet I am afraid. thanks for asking though !

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