Building bridges between public health and business

2 min read

John Quelch is an ambassador for public health in the business world. A professor at Harvard’s business and public health Schools who holds master’s degrees from both, Quelch told an audience at a recent event discussing his new book “Consumers, Corporations, and Public Health” that he believes both fields can inform and benefit the other.

“Every company has a public health footprint,” said Quelch, who is professor of health policy and management at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and the Charles Edward Wilson Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School (HBS).

What he means by a “public health footprint” is that every corporation’s products and policies have the potential to help — or hurt — health and well-being of the public by their effects on consumers; the company’s own employees; communities; and the environment. While some companies do little more than what is legally required, others go above and beyond compliance, and find that doing good can help their brand reputation — and their bottom line.

Since last spring, Quelch has been teaching a course for public health and business students that highlights real-world examples of the intersection of health and corporate policy in industries from cruise ships to clothing manufacturers. Material from the course has been collected into his new book which Quelch discussed with a Harvard Chan audience at the Dean’s Distinguished Lecture Feb. 22.

Quelch said that he sees his roles at HBS and Harvard Chan as a way to build bridges between public health and business.