Religious Investors Engage 7 Companies
One Million New Infections in South Asia in 2005
NEW YORK CITY – Faith-based investors announced today their efforts as shareholders to work with seven high-technology companies heavily exposed to HIV/AIDS and Tuberculosis through their operations, supply chains, and customer base in South and Southeast Asia.
Shareholder HIV/AIDS advocates connected to the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility (ICCR) successfully worked with companies such as Ford Motor Company and Coca-Cola to expand the HIV-TB-Malaria response of companies in the automotive and beverage sector. Now they are bringing their message to Dell, Hewlett-Packard, IBM, Intel, Lucent, Motorola & Texas Instruments.
Lauren Compere, a social analyst with Boston Common Asset Management and the Chair of the HIV/AIDS Caucus at ICCR, said “Many high-tech firms are heavily exposed to the catastrophic effects of HIV/AIDS in Asia, where UNAIDS reports half a million people died of AIDS in 2005. These companies also have a long tradition of engaging social investors, and we are seeking partnerships with them which will protect our investments and protect their operations, supply chains, and customer base from the ravages of HIV/AIDS-TB-Malaria.”
Public health experts agree that companies in AIDS-impacted regions such as South and Southeast Asia should have robust HIV/AIDS policies. Typically these policies include a commitment not to discriminate against employees living with HIV, to provide access to prevention services and information, to provide access to voluntary counseling and testing, and to provide access to care and treatment – including treatment with anti-retroviral drugs.
South and Southeast Asia has up to 11 million people living with HIV, according to a new UNAIDS report. At least one million and as many as two million people were newly infected in the region last year. And at least half a million people died of AIDS-related causes.
Cathy Rowan, a corporate responsibility consultant who represents the Maryknoll Sisters, a Catholic mission congregation involved in AIDS programs internationally, added “We are saddened to see the world has missed the goal of treating 3 million HIV suffers by 2005. It is time to redouble our efforts to stop the HIV/AIDS pandemic , and as both fiduciaries and people of faith we expect the world’s leading technology companies to be leading the way.”
The ICCR HIV/AIDS Caucus represents a broad cross section of institutional investors. Roman Catholic religious orders, Protestant denominations, faith-based pension funds, and major health care providers are joining mutual funds, professional money managers, and organized labor in the effort. ICCR members boast a combined $110 billion in assets under investment. Many of the organizations have staff on the ground in developing countries fighting the HIV/AIDS Pandemic.