Jeans maker’s health project aims for return on investmentFebruary 2009
Levi Strauss has established a programme in Egypt to improve health education among women in the country’s fast-growing garment industry.
The clothing company has joined forces with US-based Business for Social Responsibility (BSR) under the HERproject, which links multinationals with local non-governmental organizations to create workplace programmes that increase women’s health awareness.
Egyptian textile and ready-made garments exports have increased rapidly since 2004, and the country is now an important supplier for many BSR member companies. The factories employ thousands of women, many foreign contract workers who have no access to public health services and lack general and reproductive health awareness.
‘Companies are eager to build strong relationships with new suppliers in Egypt,’ said Chad Bolick, CSR strategy director at BSR. ‘Through this project we can demonstrate the return on investment from women’s health programmes with factory management, and begin building the business case for broader CSR engagement.’
To make the case, Levi Strauss will provide additional support for an intensive return-on-investment study in one factory, with results expected by mid 2010. This will analyse whether investment in factory-based women’s health programmes can improve worker-management relations, increase productivity, and reduce turnover and health-related absenteeism.
A 2007 study by the US government-backed Extending Service Delivery agency suggested factories can reap a return of $3 (£2) for every $1 invested in women’s health services.
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