Saving lives with Soap
Samir Singh from UniLever on Forbes,
Firstly, I must say I don’t like the term CSR — the ‘corporate social responsibility’ concept is something to be embraced of course, but to me, this phrase is fast losing meaning. Today CSR feels like something of an add-on, an afterthought, a box-ticking exercise. I believe that truly effective social missions are those wholly integrated into the business model. This is when they can become big, impactful and meaningful. Balancing profit with responsible corporate behaviour has been a mission at the heart of Unilever’s operations since founding member William Lever established the company in the 1890s. Then and now, we recognise the business-led cycle of sales-profit-investment can be hugely beneficial to all parties.
When done well, business-led social missions can improve and save lives. For example, worldwide every year two million children under the age of five die of preventable diseases such as diarrhea and pneumonia. A huge proportion of these deaths can be stopped through the simple act of hand washing with soap. We seek to change hygiene behaviours as part of Unilever’s overarching Sustainable Living Plan to help one billion people take action to improve their health and well-being. Lifebuoy has the heritage, expertise and geographical reach to make a real impact regarding this target. Since 2010, our hand washing awareness initiative has reached 117 million people across the world, teaching healthy hand washing habits. Our latest move is to take our mission to the Indian village of Thesgora, a village with one of the highest rates of diarrhea in India. Aligning with Millennium Development Goal 4 (MDG4) to reduce child deaths, we are calling for people to join us in our mission to end diarrhea in Thesgora and help more children reach their fifth birthday. We invite interested readers to support this by sharing our film, exploring what it means to help a child reach five. For every share, Lifebuoy will donate one rupee to its handwashing programmes.
I agree with Samir on CSR and that an add-on does not make sense. The work of lifebouy and its social mission along with scale is admirable.