|The Business Response to HIV/AIDS: Innovation and Partnership (UNAIDS, 1997, 60 p.)|
|The Corporate Response to HIV/AIDS|
A stakeholder is usually defined as a group that has an interest in a company's business. The definition includes investors (who are not discussed here), and employees, customers and suppliers. Government has an general interest in the impact of HIV/AIDS on all stakeholder groups, and while it is not discussed as a distinct stakeholder, is an audience for a company's involvement in HIV/AIDS work. Some companies in the industrialised world, and increasingly in the developing world, have also contributed to community initiatives to address the spread of HIV/AIDS. These initiatives target employees and the local communities where companies are located and in some cases the wider society.
As the epidemic has developed, a pattern of corporate action has emerged that has stressed immediate action in respect of employees. In contrast, initiatives with customers and suppliers have been much less frequent, as have those impacting local and more distant communities. However, companies can benefit to varying degrees from supporting HIV/AIDS prevention work with all its stakeholders, since in various ways, they can contribute to the success of the business.
Around the world, the corporate response to the emergence of HIV/AIDS has varied widely depending on a number of factors. For example, large companies with professional human resources and healthcare staff have been able to mount a swift and comprehensive response, while smaller companies have found this more difficult. Major multinationals have had the additional challenge of facing the emergence of the disease in multiple cultures and localities, often concurrently.
The corporate contribution to developing preventive HIV/AIDS partnerships can be local, national or international in scope, as shown in Figure 7. Small companies may only be active locally in one country, while multinational companies may work locally and nationally in a number of countries simultaneously, as well as collaborate with global agencies on transnational programmes. IBM for one has offered philanthropic programmes across the US, contributed resources to work in several African countries and provided US$ 1.5 million's worth of equipment to WHO in Geneva. For global brands, some programmes targeted at customers may also transcend local and national boundaries and become global themes.
From its research, UNAIDS has identified four broad types of company responses to HIV/AIDS:
1. Safeguarding direct commercial interests
2. Contributing to the protection of other stakeholders
3. Acting philanthropically
4. Adopting a leadership role.