Unlocking the Power of Business to Address Poverty

By Sue Adkins, International Director, Business in the Community

Unlocking the Power of Business to Address Poverty

Businesses around the world are helping to address some of the biggest challenges of our time. Business in the Community’s Responsible Business Awards shine a spotlight on businesses that are transforming their business by integrating responsible business practices into their business model, while transforming the communities in which they operate, creating positive impacts for all. These are the UK’s longest-running and most respected corporate responsibility awards. The achievements of more than 580 businesses have been recognised and celebrated over the last 16 years.

The Unilever International Award, supported by Business Fights Poverty recognises businesses that can demonstrate positive impact against one or more of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Adopted by world leaders in 2000 and set to be achieved by 2015, the MDGs are the most broadly supported, comprehensive and specific development goals in the world. More and more businesses recognise that it is in their long-term interest to invest in building safe and secure societies. Global challenges are a driver of innovation and new market opportunities in developing countries.

BITC is proud to announce Unilever as sponsor for our International Award 2014. With a heritage of commitment to the international agenda, Unilever, through its legacy and the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan, provides an inspiring and integrated business approach, which others can consider in addressing the key social, environmental and economic challenges facing global society.

The case of Unilever’s Lifebuoy brand illustrates this well. On sale in over 50 countries, Lifebuoy has developed a clear social mission which is the foundation of Unilever’s Sustainable Living Plan target on handwashing. As the world’s leading health soap, Lifebuoy aims to make a difference by creating accessible hygiene products (soap) and promoting healthy hygiene habits. With this in mind, the Lifebuoy brand aims to change the hygiene behaviour of 1 Billion consumers by 2015 across Asia, Africa and Latin America, by promoting the benefits of handwashing with soap at key occasions, thereby helping to reduce respiratory infections and diarrhoeal disease, the world’s two biggest causes of child mortality.

To achieve its goal, a new Lifebuoy Handwashing Behaviour Change Programme was launched in 2010, and is being rolled out to all Lifebuoy markets. Building on Lifebuoy’s many years of experience, this Programme of hygiene promotion activities can be expected to result in sustained and positive handwashing behaviour change.

Since 2010, Lifebuoy has made strong progress, developing models which more than halve the cost. They have expanded the programme to 16 countries in 2012 and have reached five times as many people as they did in 2010. Since 2010, 119 million people have been reached, of whom 71 million were reached in 2012.

“We went from selling soap to encouraging people to wash their hands – and wash them correctly”, says Keith Weed, Chief Marketing & Communications Officer, Unilever. “It’s proving the coherence of our strategy of combining social impact with business growth instead of just a sales goal.”

Why enter the International Award?

  • Validate your achievements through an industry leading peer assessed Awards programme
  • Celebrate and demonstrate to your customers, suppliers, employees, shareholders and competitors your success.
  • Compare your responsible business successes across all sectors.
  • Profile your work to an audience of senior business leaders from our 800 member companies.
  • Use the Awards process to help internal evaluation of your responsible business practices.
  • Receive expert advice from BITC on effectively measuring and demonstrating impact.
  • Use the customised, expert feedback given for each award entry to support your future CSR development
  • Celebrate your achievement at our Awards Gala Event– the responsible business networking moment of the year.
  • … and of course, any business is eligible to enter the Unilever International Award which is open to both large and small businesses.

How do I enter?

The International Award is now open for entries until 21st February 2014.

Throughout this period, BITC support will be available:

  • Register to attend an inspirational breakfast event “Unlocking the Power of Business: Addressing Global Poverty” on 10 December with award winning presentations from Citi, Tata Consultancy Services and The Body Shop.
  • Register to attend attend the International Award workshop also on the 10 December to support potential entrants in developing award entries.
  • BITC International category experts on hand for further explanations on measuring impact.
  • An easy-to-use application system

Over the next few days we will showcase more inspiring stories from past International Award winning businesses. These initiatives highlight how business can create opportunities to overcome poverty, the power of sustainable supply chains and the power of knowledge in addressing global poverty. Join us to find out more!

If your business has a specific country or a global programme which positively addresses one or more of the key social, environmental and economic challenges facing global society, as outlined in the United Nations Millennium Development Goals, we encourage you to submit your entry and share your success in making a real difference in addressing global poverty.

Editor’s Note:

This blog is part of a series with Business in the Community to mark the launch of theUnilever International Award, supported by Business Fights Poverty.

For further information on the BITC International Award, please contact Vicky Dodman

This article also appears on the BITC Blog.

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