Including the supply chain in a workplace HIV/AIDS program: lessons from the Levi Strauss & Co. experience
J.J. Hernandez1, D. Lee2, B. Palmer3, L. Croshaw4
1Colectivo Sol, Mexico DF, Mexico, 2Levi Strauss Foundation, San Francisco, United States, 3Levi Strauss & Co., HIV/AIDS Prevention, Treatment & Care Program, San Francisco, United States, 4Levi Strauss & Co., Social & Environmental Sustainability, Miramar, United States
Issues: Many apparel factories are located in areas of high or rising HIV prevalence. Levi Strauss & Co. (“LS&Co.”) is working to extend its own workplace HIV/AIDS assessment and education tools with supply chain partners. Together with local NGOs, LS&Co. and suppliers, HIV/AIDS knowledge and workplace issues are assessed among supply chain employees.
Description: The assessment includes a survey on HIV/AIDS and strives to capture information on knowledge, access to services, and stigma and discrimination in the workplace. Surveys are executed by local NGOs alongside supplier management. Upon completion, suppliers are encouraged to use educational tools in their businesses (adapted from the LS&Co. workplace program) to demonstrate greater involvement and commitment to employee HIV-related issues, especially related to stigma and discrimination. LS&Co. is working with vendors in Mexico, South Africa, and Lesotho that provide manufacturing and distribution services to LS&Co.
Lessons learned: Encouraging the supply chain to support its employees on HIV/AIDS-related issues and introduce practices to reflect that support is an effective means of broadening the reach of HIV/AIDS workplace activities. A cross-functional team helped to identify each partner in the supply chain with demonstrated interests in the effort. Through collaboration and guidance, supply chain partners are able to learn from LS&Co.'s experiences in addressing HIV/AIDS issues with their employees.
Next steps: Recommendations to encourage collaboration with the private sector and supply chain on HIV/AIDS activities include:
- Integration of HIV/AIDS issues as part of overall strategy in the workplace with supply chain partners is essential
- Define clear goals and process to achieve those goals
- Encourage collaboration of brand, suppliers and NGO at the outset to introduce terms of partnership and set mutual expectations
- Share best practices to facilitate development of effective HIV/AIDS workplace activities
- Establish frequent communication among partners
- Obtain support from upper management among partners.
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