Reducing hepatitis B discrimination in China
Approximately 15% of people in the Canton province of China carry the hepatitis B virus (HBV), according to the Guangdong Department of Health. Chinese employers often mistakenly fear that hiring an HBV carrier will lead to the spread of the disease throughout the workforce, despite the virus only being contractable through direct contact with blood or bodily fluids. As a result, they sometimes include HBV tests in employee hiring processes. Carriers are subject to heavy scrutiny by employers, are rarely hired, and are often discriminated against by colleagues.
We consider these to be violations of the nondiscrimination provision of HP's Electronic Industry Code of Conduct. We identified such instances of nonconformance in 10% of our 2009 audits in China, and developed an anti-discrimination education program in response.
Antidiscrimination awareness raising
HP collaborated with Inno Community Development Organisation, a nongovernmental organization (NGO) that focuses on community development in China, to educate employers about the risks of discriminatory practices, and to influence employee attitudes regarding the spread of HBV. The program also helped raise awareness of new Chinese regulations that allow HBV carriers to work in all industries.
Seven factories and nearly 20,000 employees, including management and line workers, benefitted from the training. Engaging comic books were distributed and the messages were reinforced through entertaining carnival events at factories. Suppliers were also advised to establish a 24-hour helpline for all workers, allowing them to seek help and raise grievances. Several of HP's larger suppliers, including Chicony and Lite-On, have introduced these hotlines.
HP identified several changes to supplier policies and attitudes following the training. In 2010, 4% of audits had instances of nonconformance in this area—a reduction from previous years.