May 28, 2004
De Beers Group Wins Awards for HIV/AIDS Projects
De Beers and its partner companies Debswana and Namdeb have received recognition for their efforts to combat HIV/AIDS among employees in South Africa, Botswana and Namibia. The International Chamber of Commerce World Business Awards in support of the Millennium Development Goals recognized the De Beers HIV/AIDS program among only 10 business-driven projects chosen to receive an award. Sixty-four nominations from 27 countries were submitted. The awards recognize the significant role business can play in the implementation of the United Nations' targets for reducing poverty around the world by 2015.
In another international forum, the De Beers HIV/AIDS program was commended in the category "Workplace Programs" in the Global Business Coalition Awards for Business Excellence. The Global Business Coalition on HIV/AIDS, an international network of 142 companies committed to fighting the AIDS pandemic, this year received submissions from more than 40 companies spanning four continents.
"All of these companies are using the power of industry to fight HIV/AIDS, whether it is through their unique products or even the characteristics of their respective industries. Companies around the world need to follow their lead," said James Wolfensohn, president of the World Bank, while presenting the awards at the ceremony in Berlin, Germany, last month.
Speaking about the global recognition for De Beers role in combating HIV/AIDS, De Beers Group Chairman Nicky Oppenheimer said: "As a business we recognize that we have an important role to play in this challenge, both in terms of assisting our employees and by extending our interventions as far as possible into the communities in which we live and operate. However, we also believe this is not a challenge which business can or should be expected to take up on its own and that is why I am pleased to acknowledge the important partnerships which have been the building blocks of many of our HIV/AIDS initiatives."
"While De Beers and its partner companies are proud of the treatment programs they provide for employees and spouses or life partners, these must always be seen in the context of programs which seek, ultimately, to reduce the number of new infections," says Tracey Peterson, De Beers HIV/AIDS manager.
The De Beers Group of companies has fought the AIDS pandemic for some time in sub-Saharan Africa, where it's having the greatest economic and social impact. The group's approach to combating HIV/AIDS includes engagement and partnering with key stakeholders, including organized labor, government and human rights groups in order to combine efforts.