#workingpositively: An Update from World AIDS Day

by Baylee Wechsler

A stark reality persists – over 1.1 million people in the U.S. continue to grapple with HIV, with an alarming 38,000 new diagnoses annually. Recently, at the World AIDS Day Conference in New York City, our team seized the opportunity to illuminate the global strides made through the #workingpositivity pledge, using the compelling tool of storytelling to drive home the significance of their message, they celebrated achievements and issued an invitation for collective impact.

Inspired by the undeniable success of the #workingpositivity initiative, our goal is clear – motivate and inspire companies across the globe to join this transformative movement. This is a rallying cry for change, a beacon of hope, and a testament to the power of unity in the face of a persistent global health challenge.

"Have you ever thought of how many people are still living with HIV around us? Have you ever thought that one of your colleagues might have HIV and is afraid or anxious to talk about it because they don't know how you would react?"

Axel Wedler, Co-Founder of #workingpositively

Carlhey Bolz, our Deputy Director of Global Business Engagement, joined a panel with Danny Barnett, VP of Emerging Technology Engineering; Ezequiel Massa, Head of Diversity and Inclusion at SAP LAC; Brenda Azande and Raul Marca, Let's Stop HIV Together Ambassadors at the CDC; facilitated by Margot Goodson, Head of Diversity and Inclusion at SAP North America. Their discussion delved into the nuances of the psychological safety needed to be your whole self at work, misconceptions about HIV, barriers to healthcare, and stigma against other chronic illnesses.

"We hope that you walk away today informed, empowered, and ready to take on the pledge, or at least the attributes of the pledge, and make a difference in society whether it is HIV or another topic. Think about the inclusion and empowerment gleaned from learning and taking action."

Margòt C Goodson, VP, Head of North America Diversity & Inclusion at SAP

The #workingpositively Pledge on behalf of employees living with HIV asks companies to commit to creating safe, supportive and inclusive spaces for people living with HIV and other chronic illnesses. Signatories to the pledge commit to:

• Fight stigma and promote open, respectful cooperation for people living with HIV and other chronic illnesses.

• Welcome employees living with HIV who can be open about their HIV status without fear of reprisal.

• Create opportunities for employees to engage with HIV services and community-based organizations.

• Honor privacy and never demand an HIV test during company medical examinations or ask an employee to disclose their HIV status.

• Promote my commitment internally with our employees and publicly share my organization’s commitment on social media.

The pledge is part of the #workingpositively Campaign, co-founded by Axel Wedler in 2019, which recruits employers to create a workplace that is safe and accessible for people living and working with HIV. The campaign is active in over a dozen countries, with hundreds of companies publicly committed to fostering inclusion at work.

Inclusive employers know that creating welcoming workplaces across a wide spectrum of workforce diversity is good business practice and the right thing to do. Employers that create welcoming workplaces for people living with HIV stand to benefit in workforce recruitment and retention as well as increase employee engagement and productivity.

Not sure where you should start as an employer? Check out our collection of employer resources.

For employees living with HIV, HRC has a library of resources and programs to assist you navigate workplace policies and beyond. To learn more, visit our #workingpositively page and our HIV & Health Equity resource page.

Together, we can fight discrimination and reduce bias.