Companies with purpose last, brands with purpose grow and people with purpose thrive. This is FMCG major, Hindustan Unilever's three pillar compass, which the company has ingrained in the minds of all its employees. This philosophy of finding a purpose beyond their business reflects in a conversation even with the junior most management trainee in the company. In fact, one of the oft used lines of Sanjeev Mehta, MD and Chairman of HUL is, "Whatever is good for the country is good for HUL." Though critics often call HUL's focus on 'purpose' a smart marketing strategy, its employees believe it's their three-pillar compass, which has enabled the senior management to quickly announce the company's Rs 100-crore commitment to fight the virus in India.
"It's the purpose of our organisation to go beyond the business and ensure that we have a sustainable community. Our nation is currently under stress and one can only have a business only if we have a healthy and safe community. So, we first need to have a healthy and safe community and business will follow. We are doing whatever we can, to ensure that India manages this crisis," says Priya Nair, Executive Director (Beauty and Personal Care), HUL.
HUL, which manufactures much needed hygiene products such as soaps, handwash, sanitisers and floor cleaners, is also investing Rs 10 crore (part of the Rs 100 crore commitment) to set up testing and quarantine facilities. The company has partnered with Apollo Hospitals, SBI, OYO Rooms and Lemon Tree Hotels to create isolation facilities (around 500 beds). "We have strengthened the availability of isolation rooms with availability of medical supervision so that when hospital rooms become less available, we have an alternative. We are also working with public health authorities in UP, Karnataka and other state governments to upgrade medical facilities for COVID patients, as well as provide them with protective gears and also our products," points out Nair.
The company has also announced that it would be donating 2 crore Lifebuoy soaps to the lower income families. It has also joined forces with Paytm and YouWeCan (Foundation of cricketer, Yuvraj Singh), to raise money for soap distribution. It is supporting government hospitals to upgrade their medical infrastructure by providing them medical equipment and personal protection equipment (PPE) in UP, MP, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Dadra & Nagar Haveli. "In Maharashtra we are supporting with medical equipment and PPE worth Rs 5 crore for hospitals in consultation with public health officials. Together with the local administration in Haridwar, the company has helped set up a 30-bed isolation facility in record time of three days to help curb the spread of COVID-19," says Nair. The FMCG major has also donated 20,000 sanitiser bottles to Mumbai police and 5,000 litres of Domex floor cleaners to the Mumbai Municipal Corporation, and has helped 100,000 migrant labour families with food kits for 15 days.
HUL has also partnered with the BMC to create a public awareness campaign 'Corona se Mat Darona', wherein tips on handwashing to prevent the spread of the virus has been shared. Its soap brand, Lifebuoy, has also been doing campaigns on the importance of hand-washing to avoid spread of COVID-19. "Since hand-washing is so important and healthy hygiene habits is part of the brand's purpose, Lifebuoy has been urging consumers to use any soap that is available to them and not just Lifebuoy," explains Nair. The tagline of the campaign is "Please use the soap nearest to you. Not just Lifebuoy but any soap like Dettol, Lux or Hamam."
The company has also partnered with UNICEF to create large scale awareness about social distancing and handwashing on TV, news portals and prominent social media channels.
"The commitment we have made so far is only beginning of our initiatives. We will do everything that we can to help India fight coronavirus," says Nair.