Why Hygiene is a Measure of Corporate Social Responsibility

The importance of personal hygiene has been preached for a long time. From a young age you learn that it's important to wash your hands, brush your teeth, and bathe regularly because that is how you keep yourself and those around you healthy and safe. While these lessons hold true today, it no longer falls solely on the individual level. Businesses have far-reaching influence and massive impacts on the communities they operate within. They have to be socially responsible to themselves, their stakeholders, and the public to reinforce hygiene best practices and encourage their continued adoption. Businesses not being socially responsible cannot be successful.

For some industries like hospitals, food processing facilities, and cruise lines, this focus on preventing the spread of infection has always been a life or death situation. However, due to consumer understanding of the level of disruption and danger a pandemic poses, hygiene and safety practices are now a major factor in purchasing decisions. This change in awareness requires all businesses to adopt more stringent hygiene practices. It is not simply a recommendation for returning to business given the recent pandemic—in order for businesses to maintain a positive brand image and customer loyalty in a post-COVID world, ensuring hygiene is a moral imperative and responsibility for each and every business.

How does hygiene fit into your business?

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought many issues to light that businesses have a social responsibility to resolve. For example, food processing facilities often require employees to be working in close quarters which can present major problems if an individual is unwell. With many food processing facilities not offering paid sick leave, we are seeing a high level of spread due to employees having to work regardless of their health status. Studies show that providing paid sick leave greatly reduces infection rates. The United States is one of three industrialized countries without mandated sick leave, so it’s up to business owners to do the right thing and protect their employees and their communities by enabling infected team members to take the time needed to get healthy.

Additional measures can be taken to fulfill your social responsibility like improved PPE, frequent cleanings, and continuous hygiene education. Many businesses are taking measures in immediate response to the effects of COVID-19, but it’s important to put sustainable hygiene solutions in place that pave the way for long term health and safety. There have been infectious diseases before this and there will be new ones in the future; if you want your business to succeed through these types of global disasters it requires diligence and commitment to hygiene.

Infectious disease and the possibility of a pandemic pose an incredible risk to modern society and the COVID-19 outbreak reminded the entire world of that fact. 

“Pandemics are large-scale outbreaks of infectious disease that can greatly increase morbidity and mortality over a wide geographic area and cause significant economic, social, and political disruption. Evidence suggests that the likelihood of pandemics has increased over the past century because of increased global travel and integration, urbanization, changes in land use, and greater exploitation of the natural environment”, said Madhav.[1]

It's important to remember the lessons learned from an event of such magnitude and leverage this newfound awareness for hygiene advancement. Businesses have long played an integral role in effecting change in society, and with hygiene now being recognized as crucial to societal success, businesses need to step up and support its importance, even after coronavirus news leaves headlines.

This means developing a culture of hygiene throughout your organization. It requires buy-in from all members of each team, regardless of the role. This is important because hygiene should not be a reactive effort to slow the spread of infection, proper hygiene needs to be an everyday focus in order to prevent an outbreak. By implementing a solid hygiene culture throughout your business not only do you protect your immediate interest, but you are a driver in widespread societal change. By educating your employees on this topic you also empower individuals to have positive impacts on this issue in their personal lives.

Cultivate your hygiene culture.

Our mission at Meritech is to redefine human hygiene for a healthier and safer world. Part of this redefinition is broadening the scope of where hygiene is important and to empower businesses to effectively execute on their social responsibility to be hygienic.

1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK525302/