These Businesses Embrace Their Role in Well-Being
Transforming our systems for health, well-being, and equity takes all of us, working together within our spheres of influence. Organizations and business have an important role in cultivating conditions for well-being at work and in their communities. The WIN with Business Briefs, coauthored by business leaders, outlines how businesses' are supporting a thriving and just world. This collection of case studies highlights businesses leading the way.
There are many ways that businesses can improve access to healthy food for their employees, families, customers, and communities. They can pay employees a living wage, improve the food environment in workplaces, open grocery stores in underserved areas, fund healthy food programs, partner with groups to improve local food systems, and support policies that promote access to healthy foods.
Campbell's Soup Company
Campbell is one of the corporations that have taken a stance against food insecurity. Camden, NJ, where Campbell's World Headquarters is located, is a city with high levels of poverty and food insecurity. However, in 2011, Campbell launched Campbell's Healthy Communities and made a 10-year, $10 million commitment to improve healthy food access, physical activity, nutrition education, and public will.
Brown's Super Stores
Where other grocery stores saw low profits and high risk, Brown's Super Stores saw opportunity. Brown's Super Stores opened stores in lower-income communities and offered access to healthy food, custom food items, health clinics, and a shopping experience that prioritizes customers.
Humane housing influences opportunities for exercise, education, employment, and financial well-being. Businesses can help improve employees' access to humane housing by paying a living wage, investing in Community Land Trusts or Land Banks, helping employees access low or no interest loans, and providing support with transportation.
Kaiser Permanente and UnitedHealth Group
Kaiser Permanente and UnitedHealth Group are addressing housing needs that have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. They are working with community organizations to provide housing to people struggling with homelessness to ensure community health and wellbeing.
Employees of Evergreen Cooperative, who each own a stake in the company, can own a home without paying taxes or mortgage for the first five years by paying for their home via payroll deductions. The Evergreen Cooperative also helps local businesses transition to worker-owned cooperatives, building wealth and improving housing access in the community as a whole.
Mayors and CEOs for US Housing Investment
Mayors and CEOs have collaborated with local and federal governments, and private sector businesses to ensure sustainability of federal housing. They work together to fund initiatives and prioritize tax credits to align with affordable housing to meet the needs of their local workforce.
Healthcare Anchor Network
The Healthcare Anchor Network (HAN) is a collaborative of health systems that are devoted to using their assets to improve community health and well-being. Members of the Healthcare Anchor Network (HAN) health signed onto a Principles for Healthy and Affordable Housing document and shared it with member of Congress.
Meaningful Work and Wealth
Meaningful work and wealth is valuable to not only employees but also businesses, since people who have meaningful work often have higher job satisfaction, productivity, innovation, and loyalty. Businesses can help contribute to meaningful work and wealth by conducting living wage and pay equity audits, offering retirement accounts, providing child and elder care assistance, providing comprehensive healthcare and leave benefits for all employees, and helping employees understand how their work contributes to their personal values and purpose.
Gravity Payments supports independent businesses by lowering processing fees on payments. They put people before profits. Dan Price, the CEO of Gravity Payments, cut his own million-dollar salary to institute a $70,000 minimum wage to ensure that employees can thrive.
Nehemiah Manufacturing created pathways to employment for those in Ohio who face barriers to employment. They focus on community development and job creation in at-risk neighborhoods.
Poverty Outcomes and Improvement Network Team
The POINT initiative in Northeastern Wisconsin strives to ensure that every resident in this region can fully participate in the community through teaching local non-profits quality improvement methods to expand their services to those who need them.
Unilever is dedicated to creating an equitable and inclusive culture, a gender-balanced workforce, and well-being of people and places. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the CEO promised to protect their most vulnerable workers from sudden drops in pay and Unilever also donated €100 million worth of soap, sanitizer, bleach, and food.
Ben & Jerry's and Greyston Bakery
Greyston Bakery and Ben & Jerry's have a commitment to the well-being of people and places. Greyston hires people without asking about applicants' background, which provides equitable opportunities for people who otherwise face significant barriers to employment. Ben & Jerry's uses sustainable, ethically sourced ingredients and have a long history of social and political activitism.
Basic Needs for Safety
Businesses can promote workplace and employee safety by ensuring safe worksite practices, providing personal protective equipment, ensuring healthy air, providing support for safe working conditions at home, fostering trusting relationships, and providing support for mental health and well-being.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Hewlett-Packard Enterprises has provided Internet connection to hospitals and clinics to support patient health and safety. They also promote community health by providing home Internet services to promote social distancing while working.
Eden Night Live
The Eden Night Live festival in Alameda County, California seeks to disrupt a cycle of poverty, unemployment, gangs, drugs, and violence. Light industry and small businesses moved out of Eden over the past decades. This led to unemployment, poverty, gangs, drugs, and crime. Eden Night Live brought residents, local organizations, law enforcement, and artists together to help create a safer, closer-knit community.
Homeboy Industries, located in Los Angeles, is the largest gang rehabilitation and re-entry program in the world. Founder Father Gregory Boyle gives young individuals a second chance by providing free social services, such as case management, workforce skills development, and mental health and educational services.
Thriving Natural World
Businesses can help promote a thriving natural world by bringing nature into the workplace, providing employees access to natural light and clean water, creating green spaces, ensuring that business practices are sustainable, reducing carbon emissions, and requiring suppliers throughout the supply chain to minimize environmental harm.
Estée LauderEstée Lauder has committed to ensuring their products and practices are sustainable and protect natural resources. Their electricity is generated from wind and solar power and they regularly evaluate water use. Their product packaging is also 75% to 100% recyclable, refillable, reusable, recycled, or recoverable.
From its inception, Patagonia has been committed to environmental sustainability. Today, they recognize the connection between racial injustice and environmental injustice, and have taken on a number of initiatives to provide justice for vulnerable groups.
Businesses can support reliable transportation by offering pre-tax transit benefits for employees, encouraging carpooling, allowing teleworking, locating offices near transit stops, schools, grocery stores, and affordable housing, ensuring home Internet access, and advocating for more public spending on public transportation infrastructure.
Covington & Burling, LLP
Covington & Burling, LLP in Washington DC offers amenities that encourage employees to use public transportation. Bike racks, showers, and lockers encourage employees to walk and bike to work without worrying about cleanliness or storage. They also offer compressed work week schedules and opportunities to work outside the office as needed.
The LyftUp Access Alliance provides access to basic needs for under-served black communities during the COVID-19 pandemic through its ride-share model. Lyft is providing 1.5 million rides to connect people with local organizations that provide services for COVID testing, food delivery, and mental health services.
A CEO Blueprint for Racial Equity
Businesses hold a lot of influence and are vital to building a new system of health, justice, inclusion, thriving, and equity. In the wake of year 2020, the stark disparities in health, social, and economic outcomes have been highlighted by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the many incidences of police violence that sparked Black Lives Matter movements. Many corporations have taken steps against racial inequity by condemning structural racism, setting diversity and inclusion goals, facilitating civic engagement, and advocating for criminal justice reform. However, more action is needed to promote racial equity.