Case Study: Hindustan Lever Limited

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Case Study: Hindustan Lever Limited

Overview Hindustan Lever Limited (HLL), a leader in the fast-moving consumer goods business, is among the top five exporters in India.15 HLL’s distribution network, with more than 3,400 distributors and 16 million outlets, markets more than a thousand products manufactured in more than a hundred plants across India. The company’s HIV and AIDS program, initiated in 2002, focuses on protecting the health of its skilled young workforce. Its factories have HIV and AIDS awareness initiatives built into their health and safety training. The program also extends beyond the workplace, spreading awareness about HIV and AIDS through two vehicles: Project Sanjivini, which provides medical care to the poor in remote villages of eastern India, and Project Shakti, which focuses on microcredit, training, and empowerment of women. Here HLL makes good use of its expertise in distribu15. The information in the HLL case study is based on HLL’s response to a questionnaire sent to the company by email; a personal interview with the company’s vice president for medical and occupational health at Mumbai; telephone conversations with the medical officers of the company’s northern and southern regions; and HLL’s 2005 annual report (HLL 2006). This information is current as of September 2006.



Case Study: Hindustan Lever Limited

tion and management to work with rural entrepreneurs in spreading awareness.

Business background HLL is a multinational company 51 percent owned by the AngloDutch company Unilever. Its product portfolio features household and personal care products—including such leading household brands in India as Surf—as well as foods and beverages. The company distributes nearly a thousand products through its network of 4 warehouses, more than 40 agents, 7,500 wholesalers, and many large institutional customers. It also sources raw materials, intermediates, and packaging materials from more than 2,000 suppliers. Net sales in 2005 totaled US$2.2 billion. Since the 1980s HLL has directed most of its investments to designated backward areas and zero-industry districts, helping to revive several sick industries and develop local entrepreneurship. The company also focuses on a range of community support activities, including water management, empowerment of women, and health and hygiene education.

Why do something about HIV and AIDS? As a subsidiary of Unilever, HLL is committed to providing a safe and healthy working environment for all employees in accordance with both Unilever standards on occupational health and national and international public health regulations and requirements relating to HIV and AIDS. This commitment is reflected in the company’s HIV and AIDS policy (box 3).

Case Study: Hindustan Lever Limited


Box 3. The HIV and AIDS policy of HLL In 2004 HLL formulated an HIV and AIDS policy that assures employees of a nondiscriminatory work environment and assistance in seeking appropriate treatment that is currently available. The overarching goal is to protect employees’ health. The policy was drafted by HLL’s Occupational Health Division under the Unilever HIV and AIDS guidelines and communicated to all employees as well as to supply chain partners, including suppliers and distributors.

Further impetus to strengthen HIV and AIDS awareness programs across all units came from the company’s belief that the epidemic poses formidable challenges to development and social progress in India. The primary goals of HLL’s program are to reduce absenteeism and health costs and increase productivity and life expectancy.

The program HLL launched its HIV and AIDS initiative in 2002 in the units in its southern region. In 2004 it extended the initiative to its eastern and To succeed requires the highest standards of corporate behavior toward western regions, and in early our employees, consumers, and the 2005 to its northern region. societies and the world in...
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