298 Raising the bar: water, sanitation & hygiene at workplace

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Abstract

Introduction

UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) 6.1 and 6.2 aim to achieve universal access to water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) by 2030. Today, as estimated, over 1.8 billion people are still without access to safe drinking water and 4.1 billion lack access to adequate sanitation. There is a compelling and clear economic case for businesses to demonstrate leadership by addressing this situation. Many businesses have operations, employees, contractors and customers in countries lacking access to WASH provisions. Economic, social and environmental impacts can cause illness or fatalities, impair productivity, and restrict markets for some products and services. Aditya Birla group (ABG) – a 41 billion USD multinational conglomerate, recognise this and is committed to play its role by signing World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) WASH Pledge.

Methods

WASH Self-Assessment Questionnaire (SAQs) from WBCSD were framed in specific sustainability software and launched in 2015 to understand the current level of WASH provisions available at premises under direct company control against the international standards. Awareness on required aspects of WASH provisions were provided based on gaps identified and best practices within the groups were shared. Periodic update on status were made available to decision makers along with Key focus areas. The scores were reviewed in business review meeting.

Result

Over 180 group locations in different geographies completed self-assessment questionnaires (SAQs). Gaps were identified and improvement plans were executed at locations. This has resulted into overall improvement of WASH scores across the group from approx. 75% to >90%.

Discussion

A focused approach of self-assessment questionnaire along with gap identification and action plans in a web based software has been found very useful to monitor and support development of WASH status across the organisation. This initiative has also resulted in increased awareness among workforce, peers and other stakeholders regarding WASH.

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