The development of technology and international trade has contributed to the intensification of globalization and provided businesses with new opportunities in the last decades. Nowadays, corporations possess the ability to outsource manufacturing to developing countries to minimize production expenses and maximize potential profits. Nevertheless, such situation has also led to the emergence of ethical issues that require serious consideration. Specifically, companies operating in developing countries and regions like Africa, China, and India have discovered that a substantial part of the local workforce is infected with AIDS. Therefore, businesses have to decide whether they are ethically obliged to help workers and their families by taking such steps as financing the research on the cure for the disease and improving working conditions. Additionally, companies have to consider economic implications of such actions and if they can hurt the financial interests of shareholders. Therefore, it would be helpful to analyze decisions made by different international corporations on the matter and discuss why taking a humanitarian position and fighting AIDS can be beneficial to businesses in the long-term perspective.
AIDS is one of the most dangerous and lethal diseases that has been spreading rapidly around the world in the last decades. Specifically, there have been its major epidemics in the majority of developing countries like China, India, and Africa, where people cannot afford high-quality medical care and do not receive effective treatment. This situation has resulted in the excessively high number of infected workers within the native workforce employed by international corporations.
Unfortunately, only a small number of companies decided to take action against AIDS in developing countries. For example, British mining conglomerate Anglo-American PLC that operated in Africa and had approximately 25% of the local workforce infected with the disease in 2004, provided these employees with effective anti-retroviral drugs (Arnst, 2004). Such corporations as Nike, BMW, Heineken, and Coca-Cola have also been sponsoring anti-AIDS programs for the last decades to help the populations of developing countries. For instance, General Motors implemented the AIDS prevention program in Thailand and India that concentrated on providing condoms and organizing training for the staff (Arnst, 2004). These companies decided to help control the disease in their workforces to minimize financial losses caused by massive deaths of skilled employees and the resulting slowdown of operational effectiveness and economic development.
Nevertheless, the majority of international corporations decided to ignore the problem, and 80% of them did not implement any anti-AIDS programs (Arnst, 2004). Although such decision has allowed them to minimize operational expenses, it can prove harmful in the long-term perspective due to the decreasing number of qualified workers. Additionally, international companies can always outsource manufacturing to different developing countries in the case of the total socioeconomic collapse in one of them.
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The most effective way of dealing with the problem from the humanitarian and business perspectives is implementing anti-AIDS programs to prevent the disease from spreading and improve the health and life expectancy of infected people. The first approach concentrates on protecting the well-being and essential human rights of individuals. Therefore, companies that support such philosophy should aim at improving the quality of living for the local population in developing countries. Businesses can fund health and education programs and contribute to the development of the infrastructure, liberal society, and economy to achieve these goals (Kim & Azevedo, 2015). The business perspective concentrates on making maximum profit for shareholders. Protecting the health of workers and increasing their life expectancy can help in improving operational effectiveness, gaining employee loyalty, overcoming the lack of qualified specialists, and expanding the consumer market in developing countries. Additionally, such approach can be beneficial to businesses in the long-term perspective due to the overall development of the economy and the availability of highly educated and motivated employees in the region.
Unfortunately, some governments are unwilling or unable to control the spread of AIDS for political and socioeconomic reasons. Therefore, if my company conducted operations in such countries, it would have to face the problem on its own. The most effective solutions include organizing free education programs and training for the population, providing workers with quality medical care and treatment, and attracting the attention of international charity organizations and prominent philanthropists to receive additional support. In turn, they can put pressure on local authorities to promote anti-AIDS initiatives or sponsor them independently.
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To conclude, business companies should take a humanitarian position and implement anti-AIDS programs because such actions are beneficial to their long-term financial interests. Such approach is helpful in increasing the qualification of new employees, protecting skilled and experienced workers, guaranteeing their loyalty, and creating new opportunities for expansion in local markets.