Conversations For A Change
by Peter Block
Shows Employees It Has Heart
Business News Briefs
Fox Shows Employees It Has Heart
Today, as we approach the third decade of the HIV epidemic, AIDS remains the second leading cause of death among all Americans between the ages of 25 and 44, prime years for business involvement and productivity. While progress has been made in HIV treatments given the advent and success of protease inhibitors and combination therapies, there is still a need for continued prevention and educational efforts. Even with the U.S. Supreme Courts June 25, 1998 ruling that HIV infection qualifies for protection under the Americans with Disabilities Act, the battle isnt over yet.
Workplace education is an effective means of conveying useful information to career adults who are often pressed for time as they balance their professional and personal lives. Workplace education also provides parents with the information they need to reinforce the HIV education that their children receive in school. Equally important in the coming years is fostering continued compassion in the workplace, as those with life-threatening illnesses return to work following periods of disability.
Since the beginning of the HIV epidemic, the entertainment industry has been deeply touched by the enormous loss of both creative and management talent. From the creation of Hollywood Supports AIDS in the Workplace education seminars, to the ubiquitous red ribbons at awards ceremonies and the numerous depictions of characters with HIV and AIDS in film and television, the entertainment industry has been at the forefront of heightening HIV compassion, volunteerism and workplace education.
The Centers for Disease Control and Preventions (CDC) Business Responds to AIDS/Labor Responds to AIDS programs were designed to help businesses and unions across the country develop and implement comprehensive workplace-based HIV and AIDS prevention education programs for employees, their families and their communities. The goals of these programs are to prevent the spread of HIV, assist businesses in policy development so they can respond to the needs of workers with HIV infection, promote education for managers, employees and their families and foster community service and volunteerism.
At Fox, we have educated our employees in much the same way as the CDCs programs promote. Weve learned that the workplace is indeed a good venue for adult learning. The information employees get in the workplace can be shared with their children. We can help parents teach their children to respect themselves, to take pride in being who they are and to acknowledge the rights of others to be who they are and be equally proud.
Implementing educational programs, like those of the CDC, while offering a comprehensive benefit package enables Fox to provide its employees with the knowledge that we care. When we provide benefits to an employee, spouse, dependent child or partner who is ill, the employee knows he or she has the companys support. Through good policies and comprehensive benefits, we provide our employees with the assistance they need if they become disabled. In addition, our benefits programs are extended to covered dependents under our plans. This includes spouses, dependent children and same-sex domestic partners.
At Fox, we take the attitude that benefits are truly there to help employees. We dont wait for employees to come to us. The staff at Fox follows up with employees who have left the company on long-term disability to ensure that their benefit packages meet their needs, whatever the diagnosis. Several years ago a man who worked for Fox for more than 20 years went on a sick leave with AIDS. I put a flag in my computer calendar to remind me to call him every other week. I also worked with his family to ensure that all of his benefits were in order, from the Fox Health Plan to his disability benefits to Social Security and Medicare.
Today, were faced with employees who are returning to the workforce and the issues related to integrating them back into the company following these periods of disability. By offering HIV/AIDS education programs, we are able to further help dispel rumors and innuendoes about working with someone with HIV.
The belief at Fox is that human resources and benefits can provide terminally ill employees and their families support. Administering compassion doesnt cost the company dollars. We talk a lot about human resources being a bottom-line business partner, but its this kind of thinking that reminds us human resources is truly the heart and soul of business.It may well be difficult to measure the success of programs like the ones at Fox, but we know that our actions go a long way toward creating a more secure work environment for our employees. They know that the company cares about them. We know that were helping people be good employees. And that does affect the bottomline.