Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) programs come in a variety of shapes and sizes.
Bupa Latin America and the Caribbean– part of British-based Bupa, an international healthcare company have developed a simple yet compelling CSR program that promotes healthy life choices for its members, employees, their families and society in general through group activities, education and community assistance.
Founded in the United Kingdom in 1947 as the British United Provident Association, Bupa also aims to reduce its worldwide carbon footprint by 20 percent over the next three years, and to aid a variety of charitable causes in the communities where it works.
“Bupa’s purpose is to help millions of people live longer, healthier and happier lives,” said Miami-based Ricardo Gonzalez, senior vice president of strategy, planning and development for Bupa Latin America and the Caribbean.
“We believe that preventing illnesses is a better option than curing them, and we know that a healthy environment is important for enjoying good health,” said Gonzalez, a Venezuelan with over 18 years of consulting experience in financial services.
“This principle is the center of our corporate sustainability policy.”
Under an international program called WellWorld (Mundo Mejor), the company is advancing its Bupa Global Challenge 2012 initiative, the Bupa executive said.
The challenge, which extends to 2015, reaches beyond the company’s 10.8 million insured, to encourage some 60 million people worldwide to make positive changes in their personal health habits and to improve the environment.
As part of its commitment to support a healthy planet, Bupa also plans to reduce energy consumption and invest in energy efficiency at its facilities.
In Latin America, Bupa centers in Bolivia and Ecuador, for example, are staging walks and community events to promote regular exercise as part of a health improvement initiative. There are also incentives for car-pooling and a competition to provide new energy-saving ideas, Gonzalez said. Each country is setting up its own programs under the Bupa global challenge umbrella.
Through its international programs, the company is also boosting efforts to educate its customers and employees on how to prevent chronic health problems that are exacerbated by smoking, poor diet, excess alcohol and a sedentary lifestyle, Bupa said.
With 546 employees in Latin America and Miami, Bupa Latin America and the Cari-bbean has insurance companies in Mexico, Ecuador, the Dominican Republic and Bolivia. It provides health insurance to individuals, families and companies, and allows customers to choose where they want to receive medical treatment. Its services include air ambulance and the option of obtaining a second expert opinion.
Internationally, Bupa launched its corporate sustainability efforts in Thailand in 2007 by sending 60 employees to an orphanage for children affected by AIDS, Gonzalez said.
In 2009, 120 Bupa employees from several countries raised funds to build a community health and education center in Miraflores, Ecuador, for the families of local workers.
Last year, the company sponsored Bupa Global Challenge 2011, in which thousands of company employees participated in a series of team-building activities, ranging from cycling to home building.
Bupa has over 30 years of experience in Latin America and the Caribbean and says it has invested more than $400 million across the region. Worldwide, Bupa has more than 10 million customers in 192 countries and employs some 52,000 people. Bupa has no shareholders and invests its profits to provide better healthcare.
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