Celebrating 14 Years of Sustainable Workplace Programmes

SWHAP 2018 Conference

On 4 October, SWHAP welcomed over 175 delegates from ten countries to Johannesburg South Africa for the two-day SWHAP 2018 Conference. Held under the theme, “Celebrating 14 years of shared value through sustainable workplace programmes” the conference commemorated 14 years of partnerships that have inspired and created HIV and wellness programmes at over 160 companies in 11 countries. It also provided a platform for peer learning on sustainability, return on investment of wellness interventions, enhanced private sector contribution to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and discussions around a new programme supporting sustainable business.

SWHAP Board Chair Sofia Birkestad Svingby opened the conference, acknowledging the partnerships and efforts that had contributed to the success of the Programme. This was followed by the keynote address made by Professor Shelia Tlou, Co-Chair of the Global HIV Prevention Coalition and former Minister of Health of Botswana. In her remarks, Professor Tlou, spoke of the essential role workplace programmes play in improving the health of workers, their families and communities.

Professor Shelia Tlou, Co-Chair of the Global HIV Prevention Coalition and former Minister of Health of Botswana

A dialogue between the SWHAP Chair, Sofia Birkestad Svingby and IF Metall Union Secretary, Anna Jensen Naatika, emphasized the partnership approach of the programme and the importance of dialogue between stakeholders to create interventions that provide value for all. The presentation by the Embassy of Sweden Lusaka Regional Advisor for Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights, Mrs Chilamo Sinkala Sikazwe, noted the tangible impact of the programme on the labour force and communities in East and Southern Africa.

From left: Sofia Birkestad Svingby, Vice President Corporate Responsibility, Atlas Copco and SWHAP Board Chair; Daniel Mwaura, SWHAP East Africa Regional Coordinator; and Anna Jensen Naatikka, IF Metall Union Secretary and SWHAP Board Vice Chair

Panel discussions on the first day of the conference looked at practical ways to create sustainable workplace programmes through strategic partnerships and also provided examples of shared value through community engagement.

During breakaway sessions, the benefits of the SWHAP supply chain programme, which promotes the sharing of HIV and wellness knowledge and skills through the principles of mentorship, participatory learning, networking and ongoing support, were highlighted.  SWHAP partners from DRC, Zambia, Kenya and South Africa along with their value chain partners shared their experiences and lessons learnt on how the SWHAP supply chain programme created added value for both mentor and mentee companies.

Sandvik South Africa talking about their experiences with the Supply Chain Model

Peer Educators from Sandvik, Orange, Babcock and Scania, spoke with passion about their efforts to encourage positive behaviour change in the workplace and improve their colleagues’ understanding of sexual reproductive health and rights. Their examples exemplified the importance of building in-house capacity for workplace wellness programmes.

Day two of the conference started with an early morning Zumba session followed by an industrial theatre on HIV and sexual networks.

Interactive industrial theatre performance

Practical demonstrations on stress relief during the industrial theatre

SWHAP Programme Manager, Alessandra Cornale, then set the tone for the day’s discussions with a presentation on opportunities for private sector contribution to the SDGs and outlined the roadmap for a future programme. The proposed initiative, Swedish Workplace Programme, will keep to the fundamental idea that the workplace can be a powerful change agent to improve decent work opportunities and promote sustainable business through the already established partnership model, but will extend operations to new markets and diversify the focus of the workplace programmes.

During his presentations and a follow-up question and answer session, Andreas Foller, Head of Sustainability at Scania and SWHAP Board member, provided inspiration for the participants’ discussions giving practical examples on how Scania prioritises contribution to the SDGs. Conference delegates then considered nine SDGs related to, among other issues, health, reducing inequalities, clean water, sanitation, decent work, economic growth, peace and justice: noting how they could (through their organisations) make meaningful contributions.

Sustainable development panel.  From left: Johan Järvklo, VW Workers Council; Ida Chimedza, International Labour Organization Zimbabwe; Andreas Follér, Scania Group; Alessandra Cornale, SWHAP.

Think global act local – discussing private sector contribution to the SDGs

At the end of the conference, SWHAP launched an impact booklet, “14 Years of Championing HIV and Wellness Programmes in Sub Saharan Africa”. Follow the link to read more.


Your strong ownership, engagement and joint efforts have made all the difference. All of you present and all your colleagues and partners that are not here today have contributed to the success of the programme. You are the drivers and the heroes of this success. – Sofia Birkestad Svingby, SWHAP Board Chair and Vice President Corporate Responsibility, Atlas Copco

SWHAP has always been one of the organisations after my own heart. It is rooting for implementing programmes for healthy employees and healthy communities with personal ownership by the managers, the employees and the unions.  –Professor Sheila Tlou, Co-Chair, Global HIV Prevention Coalition

It is important that management and trade union representatives set an example to create a positive atmosphere for collaboration and also to break down the stigma around HIV and AIDS. – Anna Jensen Naatikka, SWHAP Board Vice Chair and Union Secretary IF Metall

We have partnered with SWHAP since 2004. During the last 14 years, we have seen the programme grow from supporting a few workplaces in South Africa with HIV responses to where it is today reaching the labour force their families and communities in Eastern and Southern Africa. – Chilamo Sinkala Sikazwe, Embassy of Sweden Lusaka Regional Advisor for Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights

Global development challenges represent market opportunities for those companies that are able to develop and deliver innovative and effective solutions – so private sector engagement in the SDGs creates shared value and contributes to sustainable development for all. – Alessandra Cornale, Programme Manager, SWHAP

It is very significant that three years ago we got the Sustainable Development Goals. They allow us to put our capabilities and particular strengths as an organisation towards specific targets. – Andreas Foller, Head of Sustainability, Scania

Cooperation between governments, employers and workers is central to creating the conditions for inclusive growth and decent work. – Ida Tsitsi Chimedza, National Focal Point in HIV and AIDS, International Labour Organization Zimbabwe

Companies were invited to showcase their workplace programmes during the conference

As with previous conferences, free HIV and biometric testing was available for participants and hotel staff

Appreciation certificates for management and employee commitment in the implementation of workplace HIV and wellness programmes were presented at a gala dinner on 5 October.

Comments are closed.