Moving beyond Philanthropy in Partnerships: Multinational corporations and the management of HIV/AIDS in developing countries
Dirk Matten, Centre for Research into Sustainability (CRIS), United Kingdom
This paper will report research from the first global survey of multinational corporationsí responses to AIDS. The research was commissioned by UNAIDS and UNRISD, in response to the request of the Special Session of the UN General Assembly on HIV/AIDS, and will be reported to the UN later this year (Bendell, J., (2003), Waking up to risk. Corporate responses to HIV/AIDS in the workplace, Geneva: UNRISD). Top companies exhibit different modes of response, involving a heterogeneous range of tools and techniques that may be effective in managing AIDS in the workplace over the short to medium term. The forward thinking offered by the leading practitioners in AIDS management suggests that a long-term solution to the AIDS problem within the workplace will require combined social action beyond the workplace. This will entail a significant shift towards to a more proactive and collaborative strategy that addresses the underlying socio-economic conditions under which AIDS has continued to flourish. This will involve extending AIDS management programs to suppliers, subcontractors, and local communities, as well as working with other companies, NGOs and government organizations. This message is new in two ways. First, we know from a recent article (Rosen, S. et al., (2003), AIDS Is Your Business, Harvard Business Review, February, 81-97) that fighting AIDS in developing countries makes good business sense, but we currently have little evidence of whether (and to what extent) companies have recognized this, or if they know what to do about it. The paper answers these questions. Second, the presentation offers breakthrough thinking on how to deal with the long-term threat to business posed by the AIDS pandemic, and the stages companies will need to go through in order to do this. The particular role of multi-sector partnerships in tackling the AIDS pandemic will be discussed in detail.