Food and care for diabetics in organizations as an activity of Internal Social Responsibility

By Gisela A. Méndez de Buenos Aires, Argentina

Translated by Lucila Agustina Norry, Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Companies are increasingly investing in their employees’ well-being as an internal marketing action, Internal Social Responsibility, and for reducing costs of absenteeism or staff turnover.


Diabetes: Concept and classification

Diabetes is a chronic metabolic disease with alterations in the secretion or use of insulin. Insulin is a hormone secreted by the pancreas whose function is to regulate blood glucose (sugar) levels. The normal fasting blood sugar range is 70-110 mg/dl. When we eat food, the digestive system breaks it down in small particles called “nutrients”. The “glucose” is the minimal expression of carbohydrates metabolism. Glucose needs insulin as fuel to be helpful for the body. Metabolism is altered if secretion or uptake of insulin is insufficient. Hyperglycemia occurs and tissues do not have enough fuel. If the pathology is not well-treated over time, certain organs can be damaged, such as heart, blood vessels, eyes, kidneys and nerves.

Diabetes is divided into two types:

Diabetes Type 1

Diabetes Type 2

Diabetes type 1 often occurs in infantile or juvenile ages and it is an alteration in insulin secretion. It is related to autoimmune diseases but its causes remain unknown. The treatment consists in administrating exogenous insulin. Diabetes type 2 is known as the adult’s diabetes and it is related to metabolic disorders caused by overweight or obesity. In diabetes type 2, there is a “resistance to insulin”, that is to say, the pancreas produces the hormone but tissues are not sensitive to it and cannot uptake it. The excess of hormone in circulation causes hyperglycemia.



Local and global situation

According to the figures published by the World Health Organization (WHO), there are 347 million people suffering from diabetes in the world. In 2004, 3.4 million people died because of this disease. 80% of the deaths were registered in low and middle income countries. The WHO estimates that the death rate from diabetes will double by 2030 (1).

It is estimated that there are 2.5 million people suffering from diabetes in Argentina. And, by 2020, it is calculated that said figure will amount to 4 million. The results of the campaigns for detecting hidden diabetes show that 50% of the patients do not know that they suffer from the disease so they are not treated (2).



Intervention from Internal Social Responsibility (ISR)

According to the International Labor Organization (ILO), Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is the way companies consider the impact of their activities on society and environment. There stand the principles and values by which they are governed, either in their commercial processes or in their relationship with internal (employees and executives) and external (consumers and providers) interlocutors. The CSR is voluntary, it depends on the company and goes far beyond the compliance with the law (3).

Voluntary adoption of CSR policies in relation to labor conditions and workers’ health has the following consequences:

  • Differentiate the organization in the labor market and attract talents
  • Stimulate worker’s productivity and motivation
  • Improve their image in the eyes of the external customer

Socially responsible companies do not only think about what to do for the external aspects and how to do it, but they also take care for the impact their actions have on the internal aspects of the organization. For instance, in their working manners and their staff policies. Being responsible with staff includes: working in the adaptation and management of the change, the dialogue in labor relations, training policies, equality and integration policies, participation and commitment of the employees, labor health and risks, and balance between family and labor life.

Knowing the global and local epidemiology of diabetes can be a good starting point for those companies which want to implement internal CSR actions. Intervening in the food and care of people suffering from said disease turns the company into a responsible organization which takes care of their employees’ health and safety (4).

Diabetes is a pathology which requires taking awareness and measures within the organizations. The staff spend most part of the day at their workplace. Changes in their lifestyle can prevent or delay the appearance of diabetes type 2. This includes a healthy diet, regular physical activity, keeping a normal weight, avoiding tobacco consumption, stress management, among others.



What measures can a company take?

  • Keep a registry of diabetic workers.
  • Warn those workers who have glycemic alterations (as a result of the pre-employment test or annual check-up)
  • Demand medical tests and control.
  • Request the company in charge of providing food services to offer food menus for people suffering from diabetes.
  • Implement spaces which allow adherence of diabetic patients to their treatment, for example for insulin administration (to whom it is necessary) and glycemic control.
  • Provide beverages to those who have been indicated so to avoid hypoglycemia
  • Evaluate if labor activities can damage the feet of diabetic employees. Diabetic foot is highly sensitive and requires strict care.
  • Provide or ensure that the employee wears suitable footwear according to the labor task performed.
  • Suggest wearing a wristband which identifies a person as Diabetic.


Diabetes is a chronic pathology, that is to say, it can be treated but not cured. Sometimes, patients have difficulty in accepting and learning to live with it. Creating a suitable environment for the adherence to the treatment is an interesting challenge for those companies that want to implement Internal CSR. Employees spend many hours at their workplace, therefore it is an excellent place for intervention.





Consulted Bibliography

Diabetes. Descriptive Note Nº 312, September 2012. Visited in February 2013. http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs312/es/index.html

Two million and a half of argentine people have diabetes, visited in February 2013, at http://www.lanacion.com.ar/1526223-dos-millones-y-medio-de-argentinos-tienen-diabetes

The ILO and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), Visited in February 2013, at http://www.ilo.org/wcmsp5/groups/public/—ed_emp/—emp_ent/—multi/documents/publication/wcms_142694.pdf

“Internal Social Responsibility of the companies”, visited in February 2013, at: http://www.iese.edu/es/files/Cuaderno%2016_tcm5-85313.pdf






Translator’s profile:

Lucila Agustina Norry es Traductora Pública en idioma inglés egresada de la Universidad de Buenos Aires. Se dedica al dictado de cursos en idioma inglés de negocios y con objetivos específicos, principalmente inglés técnico, económico y legal, tanto en instituciones públicas (BCRA, CNV, Aerolíneas Argentinas, Capacitarte UBA) como en empresas privadas de primera línea. Brinda servicios de traducción en los pares de idiomas inglés <>español de documentos Comerciales (Contratos, actas, minutas, informes, estados contables), documentos legales (demandas, sentencias, escritos judiciales), documentos Públicos (Certificados, Diplomas, C.V.), documentos técnicos (manuales, informes técnicos) y sitios web.


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