At Essity, we do not only develop innovative products and services - we also make a difference by breaking taboos around incontinence and menstruation, educating children and healthcare professionals about hand hygiene and contribute to a global dialogue on hygiene and health.
Just before SCA's hygiene operations were split off to form a separate company under the name we know today, Essity, Ben de Vries joined as global Corporate Brand Content Director to be part of the journey ahead. For the previously 15 years, he had worked for Ericsson to realize the vision of a connected society. "I wanted to get closer to consumer products, where digitization is an important part of product and service innovation. The Essity product portfolio includes everything from Tork's data-driven cleaning system and Libero's digital services for first-time parents, to Libresse’s on-line community for teenage girls and TENA's sensor-driven incontinence solutions”.
An initial challenge in the split from SCA was to establish a new name and brand for the hygiene business that would be associated with hygiene, health and well-being. Our employees were involved in the work to further develop a corporate identity closely connected to the vision of increased quality of life through improved health and hygiene. Today, two years later, Essity is involved in and drives the dialogue on hygiene and health in the global arena. We cooperate with a number of partners, ranging from various UN agencies to local nonprofit organizations. "At Essity, we are not only trying to improve people's quality of life by providing the necessary hygiene and health products in their daily lives. We also contribute by spreading knowledge and raising these issues at a global level. Every second year, we collect insights from 20 countries in order to highlight the importance of people’s behavior on everyday hygiene and health. The insights presented in our reports are based on research findings, statistics, reference cases and stories from people whose voices are rarely heard. We also present solutions and efforts that we consider to be crucial to improving hygiene and health standards around the world and through the different stages of life. Our ambition is to inspire and invite more players to join the dialogue and to partner with us to find sustainable solutions. Last year's report shows, among other things, that many worry about getting sick due to poor hygiene, that half of all children avoid using the toilets of the school and that eight percent of the population suffer from some type of incontinence while almost no one talks about it. We regard it as our task to contribute to a positive change for society.”
In order to stop the spread of diseases and inspire children to have good hand hygiene, Essity has developed a hand wash app. The company also educates nurses on incontinence and young girls about puberty and menstruation. Another initiative that Ben de Vries feels strongly committed to is the partnership with Fotografiska, the Museum of Photography in Stockholm, which has so far resulted in two photo exhibitions. The second exhibition Hand to Hand was done in partnership with award-winning photographers Paul Hansen and Åsa Sjöström highlighting the importance of hygiene in hospitals and schools as well as in crisis-affected areas. The purpose of the exhibition is to raise awareness about the essential role of water, soap and hygiene. Essity collects and shares global insights to contribute to a knowledge-based public dialogue raising hygiene and health standards worldwide. “I am excited about the third exhibition coming up during the fall of 2019 with stories and artistic expressions from new artists on the importance and impact of our hands. To bring the on-site museum experience to a wider audience for awareness building around these topics, we will release a digital experience with a selection of the imagery, insights and stories”.
Just over two years in and the journey has just begun
It has been a busy start for Ben and two years in the journey continues. One of the focus areas during the fall and next year will be to position Essity as global leader in health. This important growth area includes Medical Solution brands like Leukoplast, Cutimed and JOBST – and together with marketing teams and innovation experts, we will develop educational and thought lead content in areas like compression therapy, wound care and orthopedics.
"The reason for joining Essity beyond the position and business challenge, was the attention and care to people. I felt this already in all my interviews and touchpoints before joining. The company vision to improve the well-being of people, is not just a marketing slogan. It probably sounds cliché, but our vision is something I personally experience every day in my interactions with people on all levels within the organization, no matter title, role or location. People simply care for each other.”