Clean water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) is a basic human right and is fundamental to human health and dignity. Businesses have a clear role to play in ensuring that their employees and the communities they work with, have access to good standards of WASH. There is clear evidence to suggest that investments in WASH access yields financial returns for companies and benefits a company’s ability to function and prosper.
On June 24, WBCSD, a WASH4Work member, organized a webinar to introduce the updated WASH Pledge to the business community. Signatories of the original WASH Pledge also shared their experiences of implementing the Pledge within their operations.
The WASH Pledge is a commitment that companies take to implement access to safe water, sanitation and hygiene at an appropriate level of standard for their employees within three years of the signing the Pledge. The recently announced update expands the scope of the Pledge to include the company’s value chain, suppliers and communities around their workplace and where their workers live. The updated Pledge self-assessment tool and guiding principles help companies implement the Pledge as per the updated scope.
WBCSD representatives Tom Williams and Deepa Maggo provided a background on the WASH Pledge and introduced the update made to the Pledge which encourages companies to take the first step in understanding the WASH performance across their supply chains and communities. Kay Mattson, WASH4Work Technical Consultant explained in detail the revisions made to the Pledge self-assessment tool and guiding principles as part of the update.
The webinar also featured representatives from two Pledge signatory companies – Clara Schuhmair from Heidelberg Cement, and Ganesh Desai and Dr Rishikesh Naik from the Aditya Birla Group. The speakers highlighted their companies’ objectives of signing the Pledge, their phased approach to rolling out the Pledge across their operations, challenges they faced, and lessons learnt as part of their journey. Both signatory companies agreed that implementing the Pledge ensured that they had systems in place to deal effectively with adversities like the ongoing pandemic.
Kate Holme, Strategic Partnerships Director at WaterAid and Chair of the WASH4Work initiative, stated the intent of the WASH4Work partners to promote, leverage and scale the Pledge, and provide the necessary support to the implementing companies. A discussion followed with the participants on some of the practicalities of implementing the Pledge with its updated provisions.
The WASH Pledge update comes at a critical time when the world is facing the COVID-19 pandemic, and businesses are working to deploy their critical know-how, reach and resources to ensure that their workplaces and communities are safe. We encourage you to sign the WASH Pledge and join the WASH4Work community to play your part in helping achieve the goal of universal access to clean water, sanitation and hygiene.