April 04, 2020
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‘Together We Can’

‘Together We Can’
Gaurav Jain, Senior Vice President, Health, SA, Reckitt Benckiser
Photograph by Suresh K. Pandey
‘Together We Can’

The UN Sustainable Development Goals provide a comprehensive framework for the world to work together and create a better future for humanity, with greater focus on gender equality. Businesses can make a huge impact towards their achievement; and the good news is that this is not only good for humanity, but for businesses too.

It is increasingly evident that long-lasting commercial success is linked to a commitment to these goals. But to fully reap the benefits of this association, businesses need to encapsulate it in a clear purpose. This should be compatible with the goals, and shape the way businesses are designed and managed. While many big businesses communicate a clear purpose, only a quarter link it to sustainable development. Fewer still appear to truly live that purpose.

The route to unlocking the benefits of purposes will differ by organizations and sectors. However, there are golden rules: authenticity, balance, and consistent application.

Purpose is a choice, which has many implications. An authentic purpose is one that is lived through the actions of the business. A balance needs to be continually maintained between emphasis on short-term imperatives, and long-term external commitments, while understanding stakeholders’ expectations. Finally, the purpose should be applied consistently, enduring well into the future and transcending corporate changes.

Purpose is increasingly recognized as a necessary condition for the delivery of long-term value, both to Ostakeholders and society. It’s good for business and good for the world. The ‘leave no one behind’ principle is especially relevant for LGBTQs, who are repeatedly left behind by development initiatives. Discriminatory laws, projects that don’t acknowledge their specific needs, and negative social attitudes have combined to hold them back.

The impacts are felt across the world in terms of lower incomes, worsening health indicators, less education levels, among others. As a result, the overall wellbeing of society cannot be achieved until these problems are directly addressed.

In a landmark judgment, the Supreme Court lifted a colonial-era ban on gay sex. Earlier, the criminalization of such adult sexual behaviour hampered responses to HIV across the country. There was a negative impact on delivery of HIV prevention programs, and access to treatment by HIV-infected people. Not only did this violate their basic human rights, but further stigmatized the LGBTQ population. The need is to ensure full respect for them through repeal of laws that prohibit sexual acts between consenting adults in private, enforcement of laws that protect them from violence and discrimination, promotion of campaigns that address homophobia and trans-phobia, and ensuring that their crucial health needs are met.

I hope that we can come together as a stronger society that will protect every individual’s basic rights, and pave the way for true equality and equity for all citizens of our great nation.

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