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“The only thing necessary for these diseases to the triumph is for good people and governments to do nothing.”

 

Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference

PARLIAMENTARY LIAISON OFFICE

PO Box 2910 Cape Town 8000 l South Africa l 12 Bouquet Street Cape Town 8001

Tel: +27 (0)21 461 1417 l Fax: +27 (0)21 461 6961 l e-mail: info@cplo.org.za

Perilous Complacency

 A Contemporary Survey of Workplace

HIV/AIDS Policies and Practices

in South Africa

OCCASIONAL PAPER 9

July 2002

Perilous Complacency

 A Contemporary Survey of Workplace

HIV/AIDS Policies and Practices

in South Africa

1.    Introduction

As the HIV/AIDS pandemic envelops sub-Saharan Africa, the impact of the disease on South African society and culture broadens.  From a lack of hospital beds to an ever increasing number of AIDS orphans, South Africa displays the symptoms of an afflicted nation.  While average adult infection rates throughout the country have temporarily stabilized, the nation grapples with the enormity of the disease.  In South Africa, a country of nearly 47 million citizens, approximately five million individuals carry the HIV virus.  This fact gives South Africa the ominous distinction of possessing the highest number of HIV positive individuals of any country in the world.

This reality has affected South African society in many different spheres, including in the home, school, and workplace environments.  Seroprevalence tests have recorded the highest rates of infection in the critical wage-earning age groups, the younger generations that South Africa depends upon to guide it through its promising but tumultuous post-apartheid years.  As young and old struggle to cope with the complexities of the HIV virus, one thing becomes increasingly certain.  With nearly a quarter of the adult population infected, South Africa’s government, businesses, and citizens must face HIV as an imperative issue in all areas of life, including the workplace.  No organization can guarantee its workplace safe from the effects of HIV, and the disease has already surfaced in workplaces ranging from local supermarkets to the halls of Parliament.  Those individuals infected by HIV will remain integral to the future of South Africa, especially as new technology, pharmaceutical treatments, and improved nutritional knowledge result in increased life expectancies for HIV positive individuals. 

In light of the current situation, every South African company has a legal, moral, and, notably, financial responsibility to enact a comprehensive HIV/AIDS workplace policy.  Even the smallest company has effortless access to many government and community facilities which can aid in creating an effective policy. 

Current South African government guidelines accurately represent contemporary academic thought on proper HIV/AIDS policies.  Even with these readily available resources, however, a disturbing proportion of businesses appear reluctant to engage in proactive holistic HIV/AIDS workplace policies.  Select exceptions do exist, however, as witnessed in progressive actions taken by South African corporations such as Old Mutual and Pick `n Pay.  By examining the reasons for this continued corporate obstinacy, and identifying ways to overcome these obstacles, South African citizens can spur the development of proactive HIV/AIDS workplace policies.  A coalition consisting of government, business, and community organizations can ensure that businesses take a proactive stance on HIV/AIDS in the workplace.  This stance will not only address the preventive facets of HIV/AIDS education, but also provide the support necessary for HIV positive individuals in the workplace to contribute to the growth and success of South Africa in the foreseeable future.

2.    Why an HIV/AIDS Policy is essential for every business

The compelling reasons for a business to establish an effective policy include both financial and ethical components.  From a strategic planning perspective, an HIV/AIDS policy can provide a competitive advantage to a business.  It can also decrease financial losses, and can add intrinsic value to a company’s stock.  From an ethical viewpoint, the policy can reflect a company’s moral character, and proactively engage employees with a compassionate culture of caring, further nurturing employee loyalty and productivity.

From a strategic perspective, the introduction of an effective policy can beneficially set a company apart from its competitors for both potential employees and customers.  South Africa currently faces a desperate situation where 23% of skilled workers and 13% of highly skilled workers will be infected with HIV by 2005.  For a company in virtually any field, these numbers hold significance.  As Kenneth Marcus, the former chairperson of the AIDS Foundation of South Africa summarized, shrewd potential shareholders of a company will look to see what steps have been taken to reduce or neutralize the effects of the epidemic on margins and profits.  In this manner, a proactive HIV/AIDS policy will serve as a strategic competitive advantage, differentiating a company from its languid competition.

Additionally, proactive policies can directly relate to bottom-line economics.  Researchers have conducted numerous studies in diverse industries, and all studies reached essentially the same conclusion.  An effective HIV policy now, at cost, will save money in the future by preventing increased medical costs, as well as reducing other incidental, related costs. According to one of these studies, if no proactive action is taken, there will be a 54% increase in the cost of employment in the next five years.  An effective HIV/AIDS policy can fundamentally decrease these costs through proper prevention and treatment.  This policy can reduce medical costs, absenteeism, and lost productivity.  As one local airline executive vice-president recently stated, “As a result of our HIV/AIDS in the workplace efforts, our workforce is much more at ease with dealing with these issues.  That in turn has reduced our lost time, and increased our productivity.  And in that sense, it’s a real bottom-line plus.”  This “bottom-line plus” should appeal to any astute businessperson. 

From a manager’s viewpoint, a worthwhile policy can directly increase a company’s value to its shareholders.  This may become especially pertinent if the South African Institute of Chartered Accountants prevails in its current efforts, and regulations force listed companies to disclose the effects HIV/AIDS could have on the corporation’s bottom line earnings.  Established publications have recently noted that, “In a country where a quarter of all workers are HIV positive, you would think that AIDS-related cost estimates would be high on the agenda when the share-price of any local company was being assessed.  Strangely, this has not happened yet.” However, in the coming years as the South African HIV pandemic becomes an AIDS pandemic, alert shareholders will almost certainly come to value South African companies according to the worth of their HIV/AIDS policies.

Beyond these impelling financial reasons for adopting an effective HIV/AIDS policy, businesses should also recognize other critical benefits that a policy provides to their workers and constituents.   Companies should feel a fiduciary responsibility to disclose the effects, and the handling, of HIV/AIDS within their company.  Investors may see this aspect of diligence as even more imperative in light of the recent corporate scandals in the United States.  According to the South Africa Institute of Chartered Accountants, “Many organizations have simply just not thought about it and it’s not going to go away.  HIV/AIDS is part of doing business in South Africa today and public companies have a duty to disclose all risks.”[viii]  Shareholders certainly can see carrying out this duty as a revealing aspect of corporate character in South Africa.  A proper HIV/AIDS policy can demonstrate the superior character of a company when its policies become public.

Businesses also have an ethical obligation to mitigate the effects of a disease that can have such a major impact on the well-being of their workers.  An astute corporation will realize that an appropriate policy exists as a fundamental element of a compassionate culture of caring.  In nurturing a collegial and productive environment, an employer must actively care for its employees’ emotional and physical needs. 

As Reg Magennis, health consultant at Deloitte and Touche Human Capital, recently stated, “Companies that operate like this (ignoring HIV/AIDS) wait for the worker to become too sick to work and then terminate his service.  This is not an effective practice.  To wait for the employee to demonstrate he can no longer do the work is inhumane.  It is not well perceived, and exposes the company to risk.”

To truly care for its employees, a twenty-first century business in South Africa must possess an engaging and compassionate HIV/AIDS policy.  These compelling arguments demonstrate the desirability and necessity of a proactive HIV/AIDS policy.  In tackling the next logical step, actually creating a policy, South African companies have numerous resources at their disposal.  These resources include recommendations from the academic and consulting community, as well as from government-issued guidelines.  These sources concur on the major policy components of an effective and proactive HIV/AIDS workplace policy.

 

 

“The vision which fuelled our struggle for freedom; the development of energies and resources; the unity and commitment of common goals - all these will be needed if we are to bring AIDS under control. This is a war. We must not continue to be debating, to be arguing, when people are dying."

        – Nelson Mandela, February 17, 2002

 

3.    Ideal HIV/AIDS Holistic Wellness Policies in South Africa

Contemporary publications on HIV/AIDS holistic wellness policies abound, with each author slightly revising the previous dissertation.  For the most part, however, one can readily construct an exemplary ‘academic’ HIV/AIDS policy.  This policy would incorporate the many facets of current thought on HIV/AIDS policies.  The following discussion creates an amalgamation of these resources, an essential “Best Practice” of current academic thought and research on HIV/AIDS workplace policies.

From a government resource perspective, the South African government entered a new level of activism in corporate HIV/AIDS policies with the publication in 2000 of the Code of Good Practice on Key Aspects of HIV/AIDS and Employment Objectives.  In this document, the Department of Labour looked beyond the legal requirements of an HIV/AIDS policy, and proactively advised businesses on crafting an effective policy that would be of benefit to both the corporations and their employees.  

Both academic and government recommendations mandate the absolute necessity of upper-management support for HIV/AIDS programs.  All sources clearly indicate that for a company and its employees to buy into a proactive HIV/AIDS policy, management must first devote itself to the cause.  The presence of management enthusiasm, as opposed to apathy, will promote the eventual success of an organization’s HIV/AIDS policies.

According to both academic and government sources, an ‘ideal’ HIV/AIDS program contains clear and concise points.  These sources recommend that a given South African company should first conduct a company-specific risk analysis.  The company has many viable options in conducting this risk analysis, but experts recommend that the organization conduct a company-wide, voluntary and anonymous HIV test.  Management should publicly volunteer for this anonymous testing, and then encourage other employees throughout the company to participate.  The South African financial services corporation Old Mutual recently conducted this type of program throughout its business units. 

Smaller companies may, however, find this ‘seroprevalence testing’ cost-prohibitive.  Companies seeking a credible, although less revealing, alternative to sero-prevalance testing can examine the demographics of their workforce, working conditions, and workplace behavior to determine a general risk level for their employees.  From this risk level, the company can make a general estimate of HIV/AIDS statistics in their particular workplace.

Once a corporation has executed a risk-analysis survey, the company can utilize the results from the survey to determine exactly how to formulate its HIV/AIDS policy.  The intricacies of particular business enterprises dictate that the effects of HIV/AIDS will impact certain industries earlier, and potentially to a greater degree, than others.  No matter where a business fits on the risk analysis, however, the company must adopt certain minimum facets of an HIV/AIDS policy, as dictated by both academic and government guidelines.  These objectives include ensuring that employees understand the company’s feeling on discrimination due to HIV/AIDS in the workplace.  Current South African law mandates this objective, and requires the prevention of unfair discrimination against HIV positive employees in the workplace.  Laws passed by Parliament state that a business must treat an HIV-positive employee equally to any employee with a “life-threatening illness”.  Beyond this objective of avoiding discrimination, a successful HIV/AIDS policy should mitigate the spread of the disease and strive to treat those with the disease humanely.

Company-introduced mandatory HIV/AIDS education constitutes a vital aspect of accomplishing these objectives.  Government guidelines rigorously promote HIV/AIDS “awareness, education, and training.” Once again, the level of this education and its frequency will depend on the particular business unit, but should occur at a minimum of once a year for every employee.  Additionally, orientation programmes for new employees should include HIV/AIDS education.  The general manager or managing director of the business should periodically attend the training sessions, ensuring that employees recognize the importance company management places on HIV/AIDS education and programs. 

Academic research has demonstrated that company employees who have an interest in educating others on HIV/AIDS issues - referred to as peer educators - can inject great worth to a company’s HIV/AIDS program by facilitating discussions and training. The business can also utilize these empowered employee advocates as ‘listening posts’ for feedback on attempted HIV/AIDS policies and programs.  In order to ensure consistency in all business units, the company must enumerate the exact specifications of HIV/AIDS education programs in their HIV/AIDS policy.  The government guidelines coincide with these academic recommendations. 

Both government and academic recommendations stipulate that businesses should also ensure that their HIV/AIDS policy adequately addresses the emotional needs of employees.  In a modern South African business, these needs may arise from being HIV- positive, or simply from working with those who are. Employees often feel particularly vulnerable when affected by HIV, and management can play a very important part in addressing employees’ fears.  The government guidelines direct companies to provide “openness, acceptance, and support” to any employees who may voluntarily disclose their status. Businesses should provide adequate counseling resources to affected employees.  A company may chose to outsource this counseling, especially in smaller corporations, but the availability of the counseling resources will ensure that employees do not feel abandoned by their employer in a time of emotional need.

In this summary view examining current academic HIV/AIDS policies and the government guidelines, one reaches the fundamental conclusion that the government guidelines concur with the academic ‘Best Practice’ ideal policies.  Additionally, the South African government has made its guidelines readily available through the Department of Labour’s website, requiring minimal effort to obtain and implement them.  Other organizations, such as a community’s Chamber of Commerce, can also readily provide accurate information regarding HIV/AIDS policies to the enquiring business.

4.    Corporate refusal to establish and follow HIV/AIDS Policies

South African business enterprises clearly possess both the financial and ethical motives to proactively implement an HIV/AIDS policy.  Government and private resources exist which make this goal easily accomplishable.  Unfortunately, a disturbingly high number of businesses throughout South Africa still have not taken the simple steps necessary to create an HIV/AIDS workplace policy.  According to the recently conducted Deloitte and Touche Human Capital Corporation AIDS survey, only 53% of corporations interviewed possessed a formal HIV/AIDS policy, as shown below:

Table 1: Does your Company have a formal HIV/AIDS Policy?

  Employer size

No of companies

Yes

No

Less than 100

31

2

29

Between 100 and 500

29

15

13

Above 500

50

41

9

Total

110

58

51

Less than 100

100.0%

6.5%

93.5%

Between 100 and 500

100.0%

51.7%

44.8%

Above 500

100.0%

82.0%

18.0%

Total

100.0%

52.7%

46.4%

*Table from “Evaluation of Workplace Responses to HIV/AIDS in South Africa,” Deloitte and Touche Human Capital Corporation (May 2002)

Of these corporations, only 27% had actually conducted an HIV/AIDS risk-analysis, the first step suggested in both government and academic publications.  In continuing with this trend of inadequacy, only 11.8% of the responding organizations mandated HIV/AIDS education for all employees. These dismal results were replicated in another recent South African survey conducted by the Ebony Consulting Group, in which only 33% of surveyed firms engaged in HIV/AIDS mitigation activities.  The above results are especially perplexing when one considers that, according to the Deloitte and Touche survey, 62% of business managers anticipated that the HIV/AIDS pandemic would have a moderate or extreme impact on their business. 

These statistics highlight an interesting conundrum occurring in corporate South Africa. Business managers admit HIV/AIDS will negatively impact their businesses, yet neglect to take even the simple steps required to mitigate the effects of the disease.  Careful consideration of this puzzle yields certain identifiable obstacles to HIV/AIDS policy implementation in the workplace.  Continued  reflection on these obstacles yields a partial explanation of the current apathetic South African business response to HIV/AIDS in the workplace. 

 

“In the battle against Apartheid we scored a tremendous victory in the face of considerable evil...Now as we enter another battle - the battle against HIV/AIDS - we need the same solidarity, the same passion, the same commitment and energy."

        – Archbishop Desmond Tutu

 

5.    Obstacles to HIV/AIDS Policy implementation in the workplace

Three specific, but entwined, factors exist as the root reason for the many inadequate workplace responses witnessed in South Africa.  The first factor involves a lack of guidance from the highest ranks of management, resulting from a general apathetic attitude displayed by much of South African corporate management on workplace HIV/AIDS policies. 

The current nebulous – and so-far unquantifiable - effects of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in much of the South African workforce result in a second obstacle, and perhaps exist as a proximal cause of management apathy.  Finally, much of the business community feels that the HIV/AIDS situation does not require specific premeditated action; managers believe they can adequately deal with the epidemic by utilizing traditional management styles.

The degree of upper management involvement in HIV/AIDS policies resounds throughout any organization, for better or worse.  As both the academic and government-recommended HIV/AIDS policies state, a successful HIV/AIDS workplace policy requires involvement at the highest levels of the organization.  Unfortunately, current surveys reveal that only 12% of South African managing directors actively monitor their workplace HIV/AIDS programs.  This has led to a general business response to HIV that one observer describes as “uncoordinated, expensive, palliative and marginal.”  Fortunately, a concerned executive manager can rapidly inspire change throughout the company, engendering a sense of urgency in previously neglected HIV/AIDS policies.  An apathetic management approach to dealing with HIV/AIDS policies virtually guarantees failure, whereas a proactive management stance can illuminate the policy and its virtues to the employees.  Old Mutual’s HIV/AIDS policies exist as a testament to the positive power of a proactive and concerned management. The astute observer might also reach the logical conclusion that the inadequacy of current South African government role models in this area has only amplified the importance of positive company role models.  An effective HIV/AIDS programme demands a level of emphatic executive management support that a majority of South African businesses currently lack.

Another major obstacle to proper HIV/AIDS policy creation and implementation involves the general ignorance of management about the ramifications of HIV and AIDS for the future of businesses.  Management can directly remedy this ignorance by conducting a risk analysis, a step which so many businesses hesitate to take.  As the South African Business Coalition on HIV/AIDS recently commented, employers’ current perceptions stem from “an uninformed knowledge base indicated by the low levels of risk assessment and lack of any studies of the behaviours or conditions among the workforce.”  The paradox exists that an employer will not conduct an HIV/AIDS risk-analysis until it believes the disease will significantly affect its workforce, but it will not understand what effect HIV/AIDS will have on its workforce until it conducts that analysis.  Unfortunately, this lack of management understanding of the implications of HIV/AIDS has continued unabated, even while management has expressed an increased personal knowledge of HIV/AIDS and its effects on their personal lives. 

The nebulous nature of the current HIV/AIDS pandemic in most South African workplaces perpetuates this ‘ignorance of management’.  While many neglected factors in business become physically visible to management, such as crumbling factory walls or misbalanced financial accounts, the effects of HIV/AIDS in the workplace have traditionally remained obscured for various social and psychological reasons.   Current inadequate HIV/AIDS policies ensure that many HIV positive employees will only reluctantly, if at all, come forward to management with their condition.  As of 2002, the South African chemical and mining leader Sasol had only one disclosed HIV positive employee out of an estimated 3 800.  This veil of ignorance shelters management from the current and future ramifications of the disease on their workforce.  Sadly, companies who refuse to take a proactive stance on HIV/AIDS in the workplace will likely not witness the effects of HIV/AIDS on their businesses until substantial losses have needlessly been incurred. 

The last obstacle to the creation of an HIV/AIDS policy in the workplace revolves around the erroneous belief that a well-managed and thriving company simply does not require a progressive HIV/AIDS policy.  This belief results from the flawed idea that a company’s ‘compassionate culture of caring’ alone will sufficiently mitigate the HIV/AIDS situation.  However, due to the frequently indiscernible current effects of the disease on employees, as witnessed from Sasol’s statistics, even a company with a tradition of exceptional caring and close-knit relationships with their employees will fail without an HIV/AIDS policy.  The existing stigmatizations about HIV in society require a proactive company stance on HIV, and a corporation simply cannot take this stance without a well-defined HIV/AIDS workplace policy.  The lack of an HIV/AIDS policy negates the very best aspects of a company’s culture of caring, including emotional and financial support for those in need.  An effective HIV/AIDS policy, however, perfectly compliments a culture of caring within a corporation by fostering further trust and companionship.  Intelligent mangers, who attribute their business’s success to the dynamic company culture which they have carefully created, must proactively endorse effective HIV/AIDS policies or risk losing all they have gained.

 

6.    A Shining Exception:  Exemplary HIV/AIDS Policies at Old Mutual

Some South African companies have already overcome these obstacles, and implemented exceptional, proactive HIV/AIDS policies.  Old Mutual, the South African financial services corporation, stands as a positive example to its peers in South Africa and throughout the world.  Over the last two years, Old Mutual has taken the simple steps necessary to ensure that its  HIV/AIDS policy proactively serves the best interests of its employees and their families, and its shareholders.  Old Mutual’s HIV/AIDS Workplace Intervention Programme showcases the integral parts of a successful South African HIV/AIDS policy.

The outside observer can pinpoint the transformation of Old Mutual’s HIV/AIDS policies to the appointment of Deputy Managing Director Peter Moyo to oversee the programme.  His leadership typifies the high-ranking management involvement required for success.  Since his appointment, Mr Moyo has invigorated Old Mutual’s HIV/AIDS workplace programme in all aspects of its existence.  He has consistently displayed management support for the programmes, both inside and outside the company.  As he recently stated at a press conference, “Given the reality that South Africa is expected to have more than one million people living with AIDS over the next five years, we can expect that Old Mutual will be impacted, given our large workforce.”[xviii]  This publicly-stated upper-management comprehension facilitates the implementation of a successful HIV/AIDS policy. 

Under the guidance of both Mr Moyo and Managing Director Roddy Sparks, Old Mutual recently conducted a progressive company-wide seroprevalence test.  The results of this test will allow the company to create a detailed risk-analysis.  As Mr Moyo stated, “Accurate measurement allows for more effective management.”  In this manner, the results of the test will greatly benefit Old Mutual’s management of HIV/AIDS in the workplace.  Old Mutual also plans to release the results of this survey to the public in an attempt to encourage other companies to undertake similar efforts.  The corporation simultaneously conducted a workplace Knowledge, Aptitude, and Practices study.  Old Mutual will utilize the results of this study to gauge current employee knowledge of HIV/AIDS issues, and to estimate the effectiveness of current HIV/AIDS workplace policies.

Old Mutual has also taken a very progressive stance on employee HIV/AIDS education.  The company utilizes posters, emails, and news flashes to aid the spread of information on Old Mutual policies.  Besides conducting training sessions in the workplace, Old Mutual also established an on-line database where employees can obtain additional information on HIV/AIDS and Old Mutual’s current HIV/AIDS policies.  In 2002, Old Mutual aims to put at least 10,000 employees through HIV/AIDS workplace training.  Additionally, the company recently embarked on an Old Mutual peer education training program.  By the end of 2002, employees should see peer educators in company-mandated HIV/AIDS training sessions.

In accomplishing another objective of any worthwhile HIV/AIDS policy, Old Mutual provides counseling support for any employees, and their families, affected by HIV/AIDS.  To ensure the confidentiality of this counseling, the company has outsourced the therapy.  Old Mutual completely covers the cost of the counseling, and provides specific instructions ensuring access to the counseling for all employees.  The company receives anonymous statistical feedback from the counseling agency, which allows management to determine if the situation requires further resource development.

Old Mutual has also ensured that workplace unions maintain a high degree of involvement in the company’s workplace HIV/AIDS policies.  In developing their current policy, Old Mutual worked closely with their employee unions, who strongly endorse Old Mutual’s current policies.  Additionally, the Old Mutual group-scheme business cooperates closely with trade union clients to develop beneficial HIV/AIDS projects throughout the country.

The last prong of Old Mutual’s HIV/AIDS policies involves actively supporting community programmes that care for those affected by the disease.  In 2001, Old Mutual directly contributed to at least twenty-eight community HIV/AIDS projects throughout South Africa.  Additionally, the company began its “Adopt-An-Orphan” programme, where Old Mutual will match all employee donations to AIDS orphans. 

The company has pledged at least R1.6 million each year to these programmes.  According to Mr Moyo, “As a committed South African corporate citizen, we believe it is imperative for us to help face the problem and do whatever is necessary to give these children an equal chance of becoming proud citizens of our country.”

The compelling and engaging attitude assumed by Old Mutual on HIV/AIDS workplace policies demonstrates that certain South African companies have chosen to make this issue a priority.  These companies deserve recognition for their efforts, and businesses with currently inadequate workplace policies should strive to emulate their example.  If certain South African companies, such as Old Mutual, can overcome the obstacles to implementing an effective HIV/AIDS workplace policy, hope clearly exists for those South African companies who have not yet taken action.


            The drama of AIDS threatens not just some nations or societies, but the whole of humanity. It knows no frontiers of geography, race, age or social condition…Only a response that takes into account both the medical aspect of the illness as well as the human, cultural, ethical and religious dimensions of life can offer complete solidarity to its victims and raise the hope that the epidemic can be controlled and turned back.”

- Pope John Paul II in Tanzania, September 1990

 

7.    A call for Corporate Action

In light of the existing obstacles to the creation and implementation of an effective HIV/AIDS policy, certain recommendations can be made to various constituents of the HIV/AIDS pandemic.  Accepting the nearly universally agreed-upon maxim that every business has an ethical responsibility to adopt an HIV/AIDS policy, the economic interest of every South African company demands the adoption a proactive policy.  Additionally, numerous inexpensive resources exist to aid even the smallest business in quickly creating an effective HIV/AIDS policy.  The plethora of resources includes assistance from government, community, or consulting agencies.  With these two conclusions in mind, an observer would likely feel shocked by the fact that nearly a third of all South African businesses still have no HIV/AIDS policy whatsoever.  Unfortunately, even those who do possess a policy tend to be reactive as opposed to proactive in their response to the pandemic. 

At this point, the previously mentioned obstacles of management apathy and ignorance on the possible effects of HIV/AIDS on their business explain what the reader may not understand.  This management apathy and ignorance can be partially explained by the as yet largely intangible effects of the disease on their businesses and their customer segments, as well as the flawed belief that no particular premeditated action is necessary to deal with HIV/AIDS within the workplace.

As always, however, all is not lost.  Personal awareness of the disease is increasing throughout the country, and the number of HIV/AIDS policies continues to rise. Companies such as Old Mutual set an admirably progressive trend for other businesses to emulate.  These companies have not, in general, undertaken incredible research efforts, but rather have simply taken a proactive stance on HIV/AIDS and followed readily available government and private suggestions on managing the disease in the workplace.

Corporate South Africa possesses all the resources necessary to change the disturbing trend of inadequacy in workplace HIV/AIDS policies.  In order to remedy the current apathetic situation, upper management must take it upon themselves to become proactively involved in ensuring their workplace has an effective HIV/AIDS policy.  By simply devoting a small amount of time to the study and creation of an HIV/AIDS policy, their entire company would reap tangible benefits.  Beyond implementing a policy, management must ensure that lower management circulates the policy throughout all levels of the business, and that all employees understand the ramifications of the policy.  Merely following the current government recommendations on HIV/AIDS policy and programs will ensure a satisfactory program for nearly any South African company. 

In modern day South Africa, a company cannot afford to neglect HIV/AIDS in the workplace.  Corporations have an ethical and fiduciary responsibility to be, or in many cases become, proactive in all aspects of policy implementation and creation.  If a company has an inadequate HIV/AIDS policy and programme, the blame should land squarely on the shoulders of the managing director.  Concerned community groups and organizations can play a vital role in ensuring the continued creation of effective HIV/AIDS policies by petitioning South African businesses to create proper policies.  As the South African economy emerges from the shadow of Apartheid, concerned community members must ensure that the effects of HIV/AIDS do not reverse the current economic gains.  South Africa’s economic fate in the twenty-first century depends on the willingness of corporations to implement proactive and compassionate HIV/AIDS workplace policies.


UNAIDS/WHO Global HIV/AIDS Surveillance and Survey, South Africa, (2002): Obtained from www.unaids.org

Cheryl James, “AIDS is an Economic Priority,” HR Future (June 2002): pg 22.

Personal Interview with Kenneth Marcus, Former Chairperson of AIDS Foundation of South Africa, Conducted on 3 July 2002.

Andrea Vinassa, “Are You Prepared? Why Your Company Needs to do an AIDS Audit,” People Dynamics (Dec/Jan 2002): 32.

  Alan N. Miller, “Preparing Future Managers to Deal with HIV/AIDS in the Workplace,” Journal of Education for Business Vol 75 No 5 (May 2000): 260.

Sherilee Bridge, “Aids Risk May Become an Accounting Item,” Business Times South Africa  (4 July 2002): 1. Vinassa, 5.

Bridge, 1.

Yvonne Fontyn, “Managing AIDS is Prime Problem for SA Companies,” Business Day South Africa (11 July 2001): 10.

“Evaluation of Workplace Responses to HIV/AIDS in South Africa,” Deloitte and Touche Human Capital Corporation (May 2002), 10.

Presentation by Ebony Consulting International, “Impact of HIV/AIDS on SMEs,” (26 June 2002).

“AIDS Survey Summary,” People Dynamics (July 2001): 24.

Belinda Beresford, “AAGM: The Cost of Doing Nothing,” Mail & Guardian South Africa (17 May 2002): 1.

Beresford, 1.

Presentation by Ebony Consulting International, “Impact of HIV/AIDS on SMEs,” (26 June 2002).

“Sasol Urges Workers to Come Out of HIV Closet,” Business Report South Africa, (21 June 2002): 3.

Information Obtained from Personal Interviews with Desiree Daniels, Corporate HIV/AIDS Director; Sebasti Lawson, HIV/AIDS Workplace Program Director; Old Mutual.  Conducted 26 July 2002.

“SA Employers Urged to Help Manage AIDS,” The Dispatch, South Africa. 

Siphokazi Memela, “Old Mutual Helps HIV/AIDS Orphans,” BuaNews Pretoria, (21 May 2002).

___________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

Trevor Prouty

University of Notre Dame

Class of 2003 MBA

CPLO Research Intern:  June-July 2002

 

 

 

Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference

PARLIAMENTARY LIAISON OFFICE

 

PO Box 2910

Cape Town

8000

South Africa

Tel: +27(0)21-4611417

Fax: +27(0)21-4616961

e-mail: info@cplo.org.za