Public-Private Partnerships That Are Changing the World

The Darden School of Business’ Institute for Business in Society partners with Concordia and the U.S. Department of State Secretary’s Office of Global Partnerships to present the annual P3 Impact Award, which recognizes leading public-private partnerships that improve communities around the world. This year’s award will be presented at the Concordia Summit 19–20 September 2016. The five finalists will be highlighted on Darden Ideas to Action on Fridays leading up to the event.

The Partnership: 

Sustainable Living Beyond Borders — Transforming Lives via Health and Wellness

The Partners:

  • Naya Jeevan
  • Unilever

The Social Challenge: 

Health and Sanitation

A large percentage of the workforce in Pakistan and other emerging countries works informally in multinational corporate value chains. These workers are often subjected to abuse, labor exploitation, poor and unsanitary working conditions, and low wages. Due to their position on the corporate value chain and socioeconomic status, they lack access to affordable, quality health care.

The Idea and the Action: 

Unilever collaborated with the Naya Jeevan welfare organization to establish the Sustainable Living Beyond Borders initiative. Using an innovative microinsurance model and a market-based sales incentive/loyalty program, Unilever provides low income, third-party workers in its value chain (contractors, suppliers, distributors and retailers) access to a health and wellness program.

The Impact: 

Metrics indicate that, since the program’s inception, 5,000 outpatient eHealth medical consultations have been conducted, over 100,000 pounds in body weight have been lost, and 20 percent of smokers have given up smoking.

The partnership implemented a continuous “Learn — Design — Implement — Measure — Learn” feedback cycle for program improvement, resulting in the model being replicated by 112 other organizations, impacting more than 300,000 lives. By leveraging the value chains of multinational companies, the program is designed to be sustainable, scalable and replicable across emerging markets in Latin America, Africa and Asia.

The Faculty Insight: 

A prosperous, successful corporation recognizes its stakeholders are interconnected and creates value for all of them, including those who are at the end of the corporate value chain. While it can be difficult for large multinational corporations to commit to the communities they operate in or their low-income contract workers, a commitment to subsidize insurance and extend benefits to these workers promotes their health and wellness, thus improving productivity and lowering operational costs. Also, workers who feel valued by their employers investing in their well-being are more motivated and loyal. A healthy and employed workforce is an essential characteristic of a thriving community.

Through this partnership, Unilever invests in one of its stakeholder groups, low-income workers, which creates value for the local communities and ultimately contributes to the success of the corporation.

About the Expert

R. Edward Freeman

University Professor; Elis and Signe Olsson Professor of Business Administration; Academic Director, Business Roundtable Institute for Corporate Ethics; Co-Academic Director, Institute for Business in Society

Freeman is best known for his work on stakeholder theory and business ethics, in which he suggests that businesses build their strategy around their relationships with key stakeholders. His expertise also extends to areas such as leadership, corporate responsibility and business strategy. Since writing the award-winning book Strategic Management: A Stakeholder Approach in 1984, countless scholars, business leaders and students worldwide have cited Freeman’s work.

Freeman also wrote Managing for Stakeholders: Survival, Reputation and Success and Stakeholder Theory: The State of the Art.

B.A., Duke University; Ph.D., Washington University