On Thursday, March 2 Gary Cohen, executive vice president and president of Global Health and Development at Becton, Dickinson & Co, spoke to students and faculty about BD Medical’s business methods for positive global impact.
Before Cohen started his lecture, Dean Michael Jensen presented him with a plaque to celebrate the 25-year relationship with BYU and BD Medical. The company recruits more students from BYU than any other university in the country.
Cohen’s message centered on what he called “corporate social innovation,” which is innovation coming from the business sector to address problems that exist in society. As a highly ethical and socially responsible company that is mission-driven, BD Medical uses methods of corporate social innovation, which combines philanthropy, corporate social responsibility, advocacy and public policy, and shared value creation.
Their mission, Cohen explained, is to advance the world of health. To show how the company works towards that mission, Cohen shared seven ways the company is doing so.
- Collaborating to advance global health
- “Who we work with is just as important as what we do. These problems are too significant to be solved by any one sector on its own,” Cohen said. BD Medical works with many different companies to find solutions to global health problems. They work with organizations like the Center for Disease Control and Unicef to help address HIV and AIDs in other countries.
- Protecting health workers and children
- The company has invested over a billion dollars to help protect health workers by tracking needle injuries and working to get laws passed to protect them. They also created the first auto-disabled immunization syringe. After children are given injections, the syringe locks so it cannot be reused and spread infections and diseases. They also worked closely with Unicef to get to people in remote places that cars cannot get to.
- Increasing access to diagnostic testing
- BD Medical have strengthened lab systems for HIV and AIDs, so that they are doing more than just giving people medication. They also created a safe blood drawing program along with getting more tetanus, measles, and polio vaccines to people in need.
- Reducing maternal and newborn mortality
- There has been a major focus on young children around the world and getting them vaccinated so they do not get diseases and infections, but not enough attention on newborns and their mothers. BD Medical is finding ways to lower the newborn mortality rate, starting with developing a birthing device that is safer for the baby and the mother. The device was actually the brainchild of a mechanic in Argentina, Jorge Odón who had seen a YouTube video about getting a cork out of a wine bottle. He had a dream about the birthing device and shared the idea with some gynecologists who sent him to the World Health Organization and it was eventually brought to BD.
- Containing antimicrobial resistance
- Antimicrobial resistance is an issue that is rapidly growing. There are more and more people dying today because no drugs will work due to the body’s resistance to the drugs. BD is trying to prevent this by making sure the right diagnosis is being given before doctor prescribe a medication. That way people aren’t building up resistance to certain antibiotics. They are also tracing infections and work to predict where outbreaks are going to occur.
- Embedding in management practices
- Management practices are needed to make creating shared value more successful. BD Medical is constantly working to build business models off their actual experiences, which includes looking at all sides of issues and how solutions can be implemented. They also started a volunteer deployment program that allows employees to go to the different countries to address the issues and make a difference.
- Addressing global problems
- The main focus of the company is to address issues in and out of the country. They have dealt with the Ebola crisis, the refugee crisis, and now have started a campaign called “Together for Girls,” which addresses violence against children, particularly sexual violence against girls, which started in Africa. They have worked with leaders all over the globe, including Pope Francis and the Vatican.
Cohen shared these experiences in hopes that he and BD Medical can lead by example. He urged students to choose their unplanned paths deliberately.
“What that means is that you’re all getting ready to embark on a career,” he said. “You don’t know where that is going to take you. Those paths can’t be planned, but the choices you make along the way will determine how much impact you have. Those choices should be deliberate. Those choices should be set on basic principles of what you want to contribute to the world, not only for your career and your family, but for society.”
He ended by sharing a biblical quote, telling students that they can make a difference in the world if they work together to do so.
“God made the world imperfect so that we could work together to heal it. I think if we all take on that sense of purpose and mission, we will have not only a good impact on the world, but a much more fulfilling life. “