General Motors Corp. (NYSE: GM), the world's largest automaker, has been the global industry sales leader since 1931. Founded in 1908, GM today employs about 325,000 people around the world. It has manufacturing operations in 32 countries and its vehicles are sold in 200 countries. In 2004, GM sold nearly 9 million cars and trucks globally, up 4 percent and the second-highest total in the company's history. GM's global headquarters are at the GM Renaissance Center in Detroit.
While GM's business operations worldwide have not been significantly impacted by the HIV/AIDS pandemic, for GM, HIV/AIDS is a global human rights and health and safety issue. As part of GM's ongoing commitment to human rights globally, through its endorsement of the Global Sullivan Principles, adherence to the GM Core Values, and commitment to our internal credo "Winning with Integrity," GM has been and will continue to deal the HIV/AIDS issue head on.
HIV/AIDS is a global epidemic, with its biggest impact in the developing world where GM plans to invest and grow. HIV/AIDS is a preventable disease that greatly impacts:
As HIV/AIDS is preventable if those at risk are educated about the dangers, GM has determined that it can have the most impact by focusing on awareness building, with particular emphasis on high-risk communities where we have operations.
GM implements this program in two ways:
Health & Safety Initiative
In 2000 GM Health Services partnered with the Center for Disease Control's (CDC) Business Responds to AIDS/Labor Responds to AIDS (BRTA-LRTA) program at the request of the Corporate Medical Director. One of the GM corporate medical staff became a member of the BRTA-LRTA Steering Committee. Using the CDC's HIV/AIDS education and prevention program, in 2001 GM began targeting manufacturing sites in high risk areas such as Thailand, India and South Africa. In 2004 the program was implemented in GM Indonesia and GM East Africa. The Asia Pacific Strategy Board (APSB) has authorized expanding the pilots to the GM China facilities.
While each HIV/AIDS program is tailored to honor country laws and cultural sensitivities, there is a common approach to every initiative. GM's HIV/AIDS programs seek to ensure a policy of nondiscrimination and support for those employees living with HIV/AIDS as well as to invest in prevention to reduce the incidence of HIV/AIDS in employees, their families and the communities in which GM operates and sells its products.
GM's HIV/AIDS Health and Safety Initiative:
GM Thailand was honored for its HIV/AIDS program by the Red Cross of Thailand and the Thai Royal Family, and was presented with the ASO Award Gold Certificate - the highest award to be presented for work and support of HIV/AIDS. Additionally, in a Business Week commentary titled "Why Business Should Make AIDS Its Business," GM Thailand's program was cited as a "successful model". The full case study can be found on the World Economic Forum's website.
Public Education and Awareness Campaign
The AIDS pandemic is too large for any one entity to solve; governments, civil society and the business sector all must get involved. General Motors believes that through partnerships of all kinds, the world can put an end to the ravages of this terrible disease. To this end, General Motors is sponsoring the dissemination and distribution of "A Closer Walk," the critically acclaimed film by Oscar-nominated Director Bob Bilheimer that explores the intricate relationship between health, dignity, and human rights and shows the harsh realities of AIDS in the world.
"A Closer Walk" raises fundamental questions about our responsibilities to one another and offers hope amidst tragedy. The film was conceived as a tool to create a groundswell of public opinion that will dramatically alter the climate in which global priorities about AIDS are established, and policies are made. The premise of the project is that until such time as the enormous power of concerned and committed public opinion is brought to bear on the devastating human tragedy that is AIDS, the crisis will only worsen.
GM's awareness and education campaign is its third year. By the end of 2005, A Closer Walk will have been seen by more than a billion people in theatres, auditoriums, town halls, classrooms, churches, NGO venues, private homes and on television networks around the world. A shortened version of the film went live in April 2004, and can be seen at as an on-demand web movie on GM's corporate responsibility web site.
Some recent highlights
Some examples of the film's effectiveness:
Cameron R, Hume, then U. S. Ambassador to South Africa, wrote in a letter to the filmmaker, "By providing the film, and allowing us to screen it at no cost as part of our outreach efforts, you have provided on of the most powerful tools we have for public diplomacy on HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment. Thank you for your generous contribution to the fight against the pandemic that threatens South African society."
Douglas Gardner, then UNDP Resident Coordinator in the Ukraine, wrote, "Indeed we view the film as a special tool and as a very powerful way to reach people. We've seen the impact in Ukraine and the ability of the film to move people's perception of the issue to that of their own personal issue. That is ultimately the best platform from which to act effectively. I plan to share this with the heads of the UN/UNDP field offices around the globe".