G case study
Issue1: Identification of sustainability initiatives and their authenticity
What do companies generally do about sustainability?
In the recent decades, a lot of companies have been engaging in sustainability initiatives. There has been an increase in push for the firms to be more responsible for social, economic and environmental impacts. This includes addressing social problems such as pollution, environmental degradation, workers’ welfare and workers health. Public awareness on social responsibilities for the firms has been enhanced. In this case, the firm is addressing HIV/AIDs epidemic among their workers, families and communities to promote their health and wellness. This is through testing, raising awareness, caring, partnerships and offering personal protective equipment (Hawarden, 2008).
What is this company’s motivation for sustainability initiatives?
Goedehoop motivation for sustainability initiative is based on the negative impact that HIV/AIDs had on the firm. South Africa was one of the countries with high HIV prevalence globally. This had a negative impact on the country’s economy. Responding positively to HIV/Aids had the ability to enhance firm productivity and profitability (Rajak, 2010). Failure to take ownership of HIV/AIDs problem in the firm would have led to adverse impact to the firm. According to the chief medical officer for the Anglo Coal South Africa, holistically healthy employees were the key to the firm long term success (Hawarden, 2008).
With the HIV/Aids pandemic, firms could not isolate themselves from the society. Firms were required to have a reasonable response to the HIV/AIDs with a moral duty to take care of their employees without use of cost benefit analysis. It would have been hard for the firm to create shareholders value without taking social issues into context. This is due to fact that HIV/AIDs led to low productivity, low supply of labour, high replacement costs, low customer base, absenteeism and illness (Hawarden, 2008).
Are the initiatives authentic or genuine?
Goedehoop intentions on social responsibility are genuine. John Standish-White who joined Goedehoop in 2003 took initiative based on his previous experiences and a passion to help in ending the pandemic. He made the initiative to be user friendly, simple and practical. From the case study, it is clear that the firm approach in addressing HIV/Aids was not entirely based on firm profit but to benefit the community. As White asserts, the program was able to save lives (Hawarden, 2008). The sustainability initiative is thus from the heart of the organisation and not only oriented on profits (Middlemiss, 2003). The firm was the main funder for the 5GH campaign with approximately US $220 000 annually. From the case study, it is clear that the company initiative is genuine and authentic.
Issue2: Contribution of initiatives to enhancing positive social and human outcomes for human resources
The initiative to address and HIV/AIDs and take care for those affected has positive social and human outcomes for Goedehoop human resources. Through the initiative, it has been possible to meet the black economic empowerment (BEE) guidelines. This is through the ART costs. The workers health was given priority which in turn led to a decrease in labour turnover and absenteeism. It was also possible to reduce contractions for tuberculosis which was as a side effect of the firm efforts in tackling HIV/AIDs (Hawarden, 2008).
It is important to note that mining industries had been suffering loss due to HIV/AIDs related costs. Through tackling the epidemic, it was possible to improve employees’ health and thus reduce HIV/AIDs related costs. According to Chen et al., (2004), human resources lose their value if they fail to be productive. The level of productivity is determined by employees’ wellbeing among other factors. Through catering for the employees’ wellbeing, it was possible to make human resources more productive (Harter, Schmidt and Keyes, 2003).
Socially, the sustainability initiative helped in eliminating the existing stigma to those affected by HIV/AIDs. Apparently, stigma is a major cause of deteriorating health and lack of awareness in addressing HIV/AIDs. It is common for those affected not to seek help and in some cases are isolated. The initiative by the company made it possible to reduce stigma and make it possible to reduce new infections. Through this sustainability initiative, it was possible to promote a healthy society (Skinner and Mfecane, 2004).
HIV/AIDs had reduced the life expectancy in South Africa and had negative impact on the economic growth. The country GDP had suffered due to the epidemic (Hawarden, 2008). Through taking an initiative to act on the epidemic, the organisation was helping in uplifting social welfare of the whole society. The efforts would help the organisation human resource through reduction of impact of the epidemic in the economy (Rajak, 2010). Thus, the efforts by the firm were able to positively contribute to human and social outcome for organisations human resources.
Issue3: How outcomes might differ for the same initiatives in a different business context
Sustainability initiatives have different impacts based on the business context (McElroy, Jorna and van Engelen, 2008). For example, while firms may report on the amount of water they use in a given year, it is important to know the amount of water in that place. In this case, as the firm reports on its efforts in addressing HIV/AIDs it is important to know the impact of HIV/AIDs in South Africa. For the firm, their initiative was well suited for the context. Their workers and the community around were highly affected by the HIV epidemic (Hawarden, 2008).
In a varying business context, the impact of the HIV/AIDs initiative would have been different. Considering three business contexts which are; export processing business, global online retailing and franchise business the sustainability initiative would have had different impacts. This is due to their type of customers, resources, workers and locations. For example, carrying HIV/AIDs initiative in global online retailing firm will have a low impact than in a mining company. This is due to fact that in a global online firm, the numbers of workers are less and located in different parts globally. The physical contact with their human resources and customers is low. The low level of physical contact between an online firm and its workers, customers and societies may put the whole initiative at risk of being ineffective.
The firm has reduced inventory hence low number of workers. This implies that cases of HIV infection in an online firm is low compared to a mining firm based in South Africa. In a firm such as Amazon, they have low number of employees and customers are located in different parts globally. Through context based sustainability, it is possible to take into account the social, economic and environmental limits when accessing the performance. For the firm initiative to be sustainable according to context based sustainability, it must not put the sufficiency of resources and those who depend on them at risk. It also involves having fair and proportionate shares of responsibilities (McElroy, Jorna and van Engelen, 2008). It is hard to fairly transfer the feasibility of the initiatives by Goedehoop to a different business context while maintaining fairness.
Chen, L., Evans, T., Anand, S., Boufford, J.I., Brown, H., Chowdhury, M., Cueto, M., Dare, L., Dussault, G., Elzinga, G. and Fee, E., 2004. Human resources for health: overcoming the crisis. The Lancet, 364(9449), pp.1984-1990.
Harter, J.K., Schmidt, F.L. and Keyes, C.L., 2003. Well-being in the workplace and its relationship to business outcomes: A review of the Gallup studies. Flourishing: Positive psychology and the life well-lived, 2, pp.205-224.
Hawarden, V. 2008. Goedehoop: When Social Issues Become Strategic. Richard Ivey School of Business: Ivey Management Services, Version: (A) 2009-01-28.
McElroy, M.W., Jorna, R.J. and van Engelen, J., 2008. Sustainability quotients and the social footprint. Corporate Social Responsibility and Environmental Management, 15(4), pp.223-234.
Middlemiss, N., 2003. Authentic not cosmetic: CSR as brand enhancement. Journal of Brand Management, 10(4), pp.353-361.
Rajak, D., 2010. ‘HIV/AIDS is our business’: the moral economy of treatment in a transnational mining company. Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, 16(3), pp.551-571.
Skinner, D. and Mfecane, S., 2004. Stigma, discrimination and the implications for people living with HIV/AIDS in South Africa. Sahara-j: Journal of Social Aspects of HIV/AIDS, 1(3), pp.157-164.