Health index tool to embed health into company reporting

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Business for Health (B4H), working with the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), is mapping out a new health framework to measure and incentivise greater business contribution to health.

At MAD World, just days after the Business for Health Index was announced, John Godfrey, chair of B4H and corporate affairs director at Legal & General, was there to share more about it.

He said that B4H is in the early stages of a ‘big piece of work’. “We are just at the start,” said John. “We need to understand what kind of data we want to collect and of course, encourage willingness to share it.”

When ready, the system will capture and report on how businesses and sectors contribute to health and to show where improvements are happening.

Tina Woods CEO of Business 4 Health MAD World Summit. Photograph: Safety Management

It will aim to create metrics that capture how improved healthy life expectancy leads to improved productivity, identify best practice and enable companies to monitor and benchmark their progress.

“Our purpose is not to name and shame employers, but to get them to improve on their own metrics,” he explained.

Beyond that, the ambition for the health index is to integrate ‘Health’ within Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) mandates. Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) are criteria which are of increasing interest to companies, their investors and other stakeholders, said John.

 “We’re trying to get more from ESG, to make it ESHG. [It’s possible] because there’s good health data.”

Work this year will research the link between health and share price and ‘identify leaders in industries and companies most receptive to change within context of the [project].’

By next year B4H aims to test the Index it has developed. Real world testing through pilots will be done with partners, including at Cambridge University, one of 14 academics and health data specialists listed on its working group. Testing will focus on how to effect behaviour change and the systems that shape workforce health and job design.

The full strategy is included in a report, Business Framework for Health, which was issued on 18 October by the CBI.

Giving his support to the initiative, Professor Chris Whitty, chief medical officer, said that businesses have a ‘profound impact on the health of individuals and communities and on the long-term health of employees’.

Writing in the report’s forward, he said: “Business has made remarkable strides in reducing death and disability from accidents at work and driving down occupational disease, but its capacity to improve health or reduce ill-health through its actions is often unrealised.”

“So, I am pleased that Business for Health and the CBI are working together to promote the importance of business contribution to health. A key way to do so will be to report on the effect that a business or a sector has on health and to show where progress is being made, as has happened with climate change and business.”

B4H is funded by companies including Legal & General, Phoenix Group, AXA Health and the Health Foundation. Its advisors include Lord Filkin, chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Longevity and Professor Dame Carol Black, chair of the Centre for Ageing Better.

The programme was formed in response to reports from the APPG for Longevity, most recently the report Levelling Up Health issued in April. “Health is our most valuable personal asset, if we don’t age well, it hampers our wellbeing and ability to work and contribute,” it said.  “As Covid has shown, you cannot have a healthy economy without a healthy population.”

It called for systemic business incentives so that sectors and firms ‘feel customer and shareholder pressure to improve health, not to harm it’.


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