Diversey has made cleaners into hygiene technicians to give back to society through an initiative called Garima.
A global company whose business is indoor cleaning and hygiene, Diversey's supplies the chemicals and equipment needed to get the job done in thousands of establishments. Typical customers are big — like four- or five-star hotels, shopping malls, hospitals and restaurant chains such as McDonald’s and KFC.
Working with a client also means training the client’s staff to be scientific about cleanliness. A whole transformation gets underway with multiple checks to know what’s working and what isn’t. Diversey’s people will turn up in the laundry of a hotel with a whiteness meter. Cleanliness is measured with gizmos used by microbiologists. Litmus strips will reveal whether there is fat or starch on plates. The temperature of the dish washing machine will be checked to know if the crockery in general is being sanitised.
So, when Diversey decided it wanted to give back to the Indian market by way of a social contribution it felt it was brsest suited to propagate cleanliness. It began by collecting leftover pieces of soap from hotels and turning them back into proper cakes of soap in slums.
The company also saw an opportunity in changing the lowly status of cleaners in establishments. They play an important role in preventing disease, but aren’t recognised for it. With training, they could be seen instead as hygiene technicians. The inspiration came from Japan.
Diversey was anyway training the staff of its customers. If the company could train others as well and help them find employment with self-respect, it would be a worthwhile contribution.
It has teamed up with Doctors For You (DFY), an NGO of public-spirited physicians, and over the past few years helped thousands find jobs.
Civil Society spoke to Himanshu Jain, Diversey’s President, Asia-Pacific, who has been the driving force behind the training programme, to find out more.