Health and wellbeing
Olam’s operations do not require workers to engage in activities where there is an associated incidence or high risk of contracting specific diseases. However, in today’s world, our employees across the world face different types of health and wellness issues.
In countries that can be classed as developed, such as the USA, UK, Singapore etc. we focus on fitness, for example encouraging cycle to work schemes, regular exercise and healthy eating.
In 2015, the U.S. team launched a comprehensive wellness programme, Olam Living. With the diversity of the workforce and learnings from other industries in mind, it was evident that a wellness programme within Olam needed to focus on more than just physical health to satisfy its vision of having a vibrant, engaged, healthy and productive workforce
Today, Olam Living is piloted in Fresno, California with its focus on 5 key areas of wellness: Physical, Nutrition, Financial, Purpose, and Community. The Team utilises education and engagement activities to promote shared value through newsletters, ‘lunch and learns’, community and volunteer events, and various wellness initiatives.
In celebration of World Health Day (7th April 2016), Olam Living promoted the World Health Organisation’s 2016 campaign: Beat Diabetes. Throughout the week, the team hosted various wellness initiatives such as having a nutritionist coming to speak about diabetes, and the launch of a walking club.
Olam has long supported health campaigns in the rural communities where we have operations. Issues include diseases such as HIV, malaria, diarrhoea, Ebola and Zika virus, but also malnutrition.
Implementing effective health strategies
Effective health strategies address knowledge, availability, and access, which includes:
- Knowledge about disease prevention, hygiene, and nutrition;
- Water, sanitation, hygiene and food infrastructure must be available in sufficient quantity and quality; and
- People must have access to infrastructure and care, meaning that it is affordable and reliably available close to home or work.
On World AIDS Day 1st December 2015, we launched the Olam Healthy Living Campaign in Africa. In addition to supporting our farmer suppliers, the Campaign also focuses on our workers. During 2015 proposals from Olam’s teams across the continent were received outlining initiatives to drive education, availability and access to better nutrition and disease prevention.
Nineteen successful initiatives across Olam’s cotton, rice, palm oil, timber, cocoa, coffee and packaged foods businesses are expected to reach an estimated 270,000 people over the course of 2016 across 8 countries including Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Nigeria, Mozambique, Republic of Congo, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia.
Led by the Business Units, or in collaboration with other partners, most of the proposals include an HIV component in tandem with nutrition or disease prevention programmes, including increasing access to sanitation and safe drinking water, improving nutritional quality of food at employees’ canteens, providing health insurance for workers and farmers and pre- and post-natal education for women in local communities. Zambia, for example, is among the most severely affected by the HIV/AIDS epidemic in sub-Saharan Africa, and the team managing Olam’s coffee plantation in the country’s Northern Province is determined to not only provide a healthy and safe workplace for employees, but also to support wellbeing in the community.
This includes working with 200 pregnant women, around 1,000 workers, 20 communities and 500 school pupils to improve HIV prevention awareness, access to care and reduce stigma and discrimination around the disease and its causes.
This programme will run alongside cooking demonstrations and nutrition education to encourage healthy diets and reduce infant mortality as well as promoting female empowerment through prizes for female-run community businesses.
Ebola and Zika virus
Although the severity and international focus on Ebola has diminished, our West Africa operations still implement strengthened hygiene and awareness practices. In recent months we have seen the outbreak of Zika virus in South and Central America. All employees have been given guidance and we do not allow female colleagues who are pregnant, or who intend to become pregnant, to visit high risk areas.
Water access, sanitation and hygiene promotion (WASH)
According to WHO estimates, the return on US$1 investment in water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) is over US$4 just in reduced health care costs. Some estimates find a benefit for society of US$1,000 – giving WASH projects the highest ROI among social activities such as electrification, school infrastructure, and premiums for farmers.
Olam has developed a WASH standard that shall enable all direct operations to consistently ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for its own workforce, contractors and visitors, fully compliant to international standards. You can read more about WASH in the Water section of this Report.
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