Companies must play a role in creating a healthier society
The author of this article is the CEO Gay and St Thomas Foundation
It is now clear that the experience of Covid-19 is still different. If you increase the risk of virus infection, Living in a contaminated area Or you live in a community with few affordable healthy eating options and a high obesity rate.If you already have other long-term health conditions, this value is also higher More likely to do If you live in poor quality housing and have nothing to say about your working conditions.
What lacks sufficient documentation to prove is that all these factors are influenced by companies and the investors who support them. To a large extent, they are the negative externalities of the company’s products and services, the quality of work they provide, and the impact on the environment.
These externalities are important. The pandemic last year shrank the global economy and caused many countries to lose their jobs. In countries with high obesity, nine out of ten people who die from Covid have died. Before the pandemic, poor health made public finances strained, but companies also had to pay a price. For example, in the UK, 70 million working days are lost every year due to mental health problems.
Health should be a key factor for investors to make environmental, social and corporate governance decisions. Strangely, this is not the case. Now, most asset management companies have various strategies and funds that claim to be able to deal with climate change, but in the annual investment report, health is just a nod.
Fortunately, we can learn from how climate drives the investment agenda. The measures taken include clear disclosure, investor enthusiasm and regulatory support.take Greenhouse Gas Agreement, Divides greenhouse gas emissions into three “scopes”: direct emissions, indirect emissions, and emissions that occur in the company’s value chain. From this, we can draw a line similar to the company’s impact on health.
Scope one is consumer health, that is, the products and services sold by the company may be beneficial or harmful to our health, such as tobacco and sugary beverages. This can also include basic services, such as energy and insurance, which often carry “Poverty insurance premium“- Low-income earners have to bear additional costs.
Scope two is the health status of workers, or workplace practices that may increase or decrease personnel mobility, absenteeism, and motivation, such as unstable employment, labor rights, and unfair remuneration. The third is community health-the way business activities shape the environment, such as increasing air pollution.
Disclosures in these areas will help investors in risk assessment, capital allocation and strategic planning.They will show tobacco and High-sugar food Become “fixed assets” such as oil, natural gas and coal. They may encourage greater investment in “compensation” for health promotion, such as new mental health technologies. Most importantly, they will better align the interests of enterprises with those of society.
These are not conceptual.British supermarket giant Tesco has agreed Promote the sales of healthy food and beverages Respond to investor pressure.This Workforce Disclosure Initiative Investors with more than $70 billion in assets have been mobilized to ensure that the company discloses data on the behavior of its employees.
Regulators may also step up their efforts. They increasingly require investors to consider the environment in their decision-making. In countries like the United Kingdom, where healthy life expectancy is at a standstill, this may be as important to the benefit of pension funds as addressing climate change. Policy can also play a role.Global initiatives such as sugar tax have been proven very effective Encourage healthy innovation in food and beverages.
Health is increasingly beneficial to businesses, and vice versa. A clearer investment commitment to a healthier society should be one of the legacy of the pandemic.