Industry

Financials arrow_forward

Theme

Impact investing arrow_forward

Investing in Every Child: Realizing opportunities for long-lasting change

“Business impacts children. And therefore, we must let children impact business.” These words from H.M King Carl XVI Gustaf, during his speech at the recent Global Child Forum in April 2018, underline the importance of understanding children’s rights –  especially recognizing the unique position investors and companies have to protect and advance these rights.

Before understanding an investor’s role in advancing children’s rights, it’s key to understand what are children’s rights. Among others, children have the right to play, to health care, to education, to an adequate standard of living, the right to protection from abuse and exploitation, and the right to live in safe environments. These rights are framed in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. But while these rights have been articulated and enshrined in a UN Convention, the links between these rights and business is not always clear. But they are there. And investors, and business, have a responsibility to understand, uphold and advance children’s rights in their operations, communities and in their investment decisions.

Investors play a key role in influencing companies’ behaviour

Why should investors apply a child rights lens in their investment decisions? Simply expressed, investors play a critical role in influencing corporate behavior. Because of this,  responsible investors are increasingly integrating environmental, social and governance (ESG) considerations into investment decisions. But in addition to these considerations, investors also need to understand that applying a specific children’s rights perspective not only benefits children, but also fosters a sustainable business environment.

In this regard, reporting on human rights issues in the supply chain, including children’s rights, is crucial. By demanding that companies are transparent in their reporting on children’s rights issues, investors can effectively put pressure on companies to take those issues into account, which can have widespread benefits for the condition of children globally.

A good example is Norges Bank Investment Management (NBIM). In its annual report on responsible investments, NBIM clearly states which companies it considers to have good reporting related to children’s rights. Letters are sent to the companies who are deemed to be falling short, and NBIM engages in dialogue with them.

But in general, progress on integrating children’s rights into investment processes has been modest, at best. Global Child Forum and GES have, for the past several years, surveyed investors regarding their practices. What is most telling is that the response to these surveys have been low, with one of the reasons being a lack of understanding vis-à-vis investor’s behaviour and children’s rights.

Children’s rights are about more than just child labour

Most tend to see children’s rights issues in relation to child labour and may fail to grasp the wider implications of children’s rights issues as they relate to business. Rightfully so, as child labour is still a rampant challenge with 152 million children being victims of child labour in the world, according to the ILO.

But besides combating child labour, there are many more actions investors and business can take to support and protect children and their rights. These include making sure that, for example, companies address the safety of their products for children, that they ensure decent conditions for working parents and youth workers, and that they don’t exploit or pollute communities and the environment. The Children’s Rights and Business Principles delineate the roles and responsibility that business can take in many of these areas.

While many companies and investors are motivated to do good because it’s the right thing to do, there are clear business benefits to taking such action, such as improved reputation and risk management, contributing to recruiting and maintaining a motivated workforce and serving as a source of innovation and new market opportunities.

In order to understand more about these connections, investors and business can access an array of useful resources and tools such as the Children’s Rights and Business Principles, the Children’s Rights and Business Atlas and the GES Investor Guidance for Children’s Rights Integration (see below for more information).

Interestingly, it’s worth noting that many investors do address these issues but without labelling them as specifically benefiting children. In other words, many are already managing child rights issues without realizing, due to the fact that they are interlinked with more ‘mainstream’ ESG topics.














.

.

.

By engaging collaboratively, investors can maximize their leverage

We can all agree that more work is necessary to ensure the well-being of the world’s children. One of the most efficient and impactful ways for achieving this is by means of collaboration, with both peers and other stakeholders. Through joint efforts, investors, companies, and organisations can share know-how and align their actions in order to deliver tangible solutions for safeguarding children and advancing their rights.

By working together we can fulfill the dream of Indonesian youth workers Ruth and Fauza, who joined our latest Global Child Forum: “We have a dream that there will be joint efforts between children, families, communities, governments and the business sector to promote and fulfill children’s rights.”

At the Forum, Global Child Forum launched The Pledge for Children’s Rights and Business, an urgent call for businesses to create tangible initiatives and forge partnerships which advance children’s rights in their operations, supply chains and in the communities in which they operate.

At GES International, we have signed the pledge and are committed to carrying out at least three concrete undertakings aimed at informing, involving and providing related tools for investors over the next 12 months, including updating the investor guidelines on children’s rights integration. Global Child Forum has committed to incorporate children’s voices more in our operations. As a business leader, an investor; as someone who wants to take real action to advance children’s rights in your sphere of influence, what’s your commitment? Take the Pledge here.

Authors

Josefin Smeds

Researcher
Global Child Forum

Josefin has previously worked as an international coordinator at Katrineholm municipality, supporting local and international projects from inception to successful funding applications and implementation. She has managed research projects on various issues related to sustainability for the Dag Hammarskjöld Foundation, SIANI (Swedish International Agricultural Network Initiative), Naturskyddsföreningen among others. Josefin holds a Master’s Degree in International Development and Management from Lund University in Sweden. On a voluntary basis, she has been the secretary of the board and a project manager for the Swedish youth sustainability network PUSH Sverige.

Hanna Roberts

CEO
GES International

Learn more about available investor and business guides and resources:

The Children’s Rights and Business Principles were launched in 2012 by UNICEF, Save the Children and UN Global Compact, and is the first comprehensive set of principles to guide companies on the full range of actions they can take in the workplace, marketplace and community to respect and support children’s rights.

The Children’s Rights and Business Atlas is an online risk assessment tool that enables businesses to identify the risk of direct or indirect infringement of children’s rights across 198 countries. Investors can use this tool to understand the main child-related risks in a specific country, and to then take steps to highlight these iss­ues with investee companies in that location.

The GES Investor Guidance for Children’s Rights Integration aims to explain the relevance and appropriate actions related to the Children’s Rights and Business Principles, specifically from the investor perspective. It is intended to serve as a concise reference and checklist for investors to use in their daily operations to ensure that children’s rights are taken into consideration.

Explore similar content

Financials
& Impact investing
View all

Corporate Responses to Protecting Children's Rights in South Africa

In an effort to provide insights and guidance on how businesses protect – or fall short in protecting – children’s rights in South Africa, this report draws on one of Global Child Forum’s essential research products ‘The corporate sector and children’s rights benchmark’. More specifically, insights are provided across three areas where the corporate sector impacts children’s rights: The Workplace, The Marketplace, The Community and the Environment. In 2015, Global Child Forum, in partnership with Boston Consulting Group, published a benchmark study of the 271 largest companies in the region. This report is a follow-up to that study. An updated benchmark analysis has been conducted on 20 of the region’s largest companies.

benchmark study

Corporate Responses to Protecting Children's Rights in Southeast Asia

In an effort to provide insights and guidance on how businesses protect – or fall short in protecting – children’s rights in the Southeast Asia region, this report makes use of two essential Global Child Forum research products: The Children Rights and Business Atlas and The corporate sector and children’s rights benchmark. More specifically, insights are provided across three areas where the corporate sector impacts children’s rights: The Workplace, The Marketplace, The Community and the Environment. Throughout this report, data from the Atlas highlights contextual factors that shape how companies can and should respond to children’s rights. This information is contrasted with the results of the Benchmark scoring for the 20 largest companies in Southeast Asia. A gap analysis provides recommendations for company actions that address risks and create positive impact on children’s rights in the region.

benchmark study

Investor Insights on Children’s Rights

Global Child Forum and GES International have surveyed asset owner signatories to the Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI) in 2014, 2015, and 2017, in order to understand perspectives of the investor community on integrating children’s rights issues into decision-making processes. We are now taking stock of the knowledge generated from these surveys and from recent in-depth interviews with nine investors. The main findings of our work are presented in this report. The purpose of this report is twofold: to provide information and inspiration to investors by highlighting the relevance of children’s rights, and to supply concrete tools and frameworks for applying related perspectives. We also present two company examples which serve to demonstrate how investors can work with children’s rights on a practical level.

benchmark study

Business investments in children's education

During 2017, Global Child Forum initiated a project aiming at demonstrating how investments in education leads to positive pay-offs not only for the community but also for business. Rightshouse was engaged to carry out the mapping exercise and deliver a database/spreadsheet categorizing collected data – and a report presenting the main findings of the assignment. The report points out that businesses recognize the central importance of education both for development in society as a whole and for the business sector specifically. But while it is well documented that the education sector globally suffers from a significant lack of resources, contributions from the private sector are limited. All findings of the mapping exercise, together with business cases, are presented in the report.

guidance toolkit
Financials
View all

Corporate Responses to Protecting Children's Rights in the Middle East and North Africa

In an effort to provide insights and guidance on how businesses protect – or fall short in protecting – children’s rights in the Middle East and North Africa, this report draws on one of Global Child Forum’s essential research products: The corporate sector and children’s rights benchmark. More specifically, insights are provided across three areas where the corporate sector impacts children’s rights: The Workplace, The Marketplace, The Community and the Environment. In 2014, Global Child Forum, in partnership with Boston Consulting Group, published a benchmark study of the 350 largest companies in the region. This report is a follow-up to that study. An updated benchmark analysis has been conducted on 20 of the region’s largest companies.

benchmark study

Corporate Responses to Protecting Children's Rights in South America

In an effort to provide insights and guidance on how businesses protect – or fall short in protecting – children’s rights in South America, this report draws on one of Global Child Forum’s essential research products ‘The corporate sector and children’s rights benchmark’. More specifically, insights are provided across three areas where the corporate sector impacts children’s rights: The Workplace, The Marketplace, The Community and the Environment. In 2017, Global Child Forum, in partnership with Boston Consulting Group, published a benchmark study of the 300 largest companies in the region. This report is a follow-up to that study. An updated benchmark analysis has been conducted on 20 of the region’s largest companies.

benchmark study

Global Report: The Corporate Sector and Children's Rights

Global Child Forum and the Boston Consulting Group initiated the Corporate Sector and Children’ Rights Benchmark study series in 2013 to fill a gap in research. The purpose of the series has been to develop a children’s rights benchmark for the corporate sector and to enable tracking of progress over time on how children’s rights are addressed by business. The data referred to in this reporting has been compiled from one global and five regional studies conducted between 2013-2016; the Nordic region, the Middle East and Northern Africa; Southern Africa, South America and Southeast Asia. In total, the reporting covers 2500 companies across nine different industries.

benchmark study

Standard Chartered: Empowering girls to be agents of change

Standard Chartered is a leading international banking group. Many of the locations in which they operate are low income countries with high levels of gender inequality. The bank is therefore taking action to make positive social and economic contributions. Since 2006, they’ve supported girls, to take on leadership roles in their communities through the Goal program.   “We are asking ourselves:
‘How can we use the bank’s resources to help these girls reach their aspirations?’”
Natasha Kwakwa, Program Director, Goal Standard Chartered   In this Deep Dive, we delve deeper into the Goal program in order to understand its background story and key features. The insights are based on interviews with company representatives and publicly available resources. As part of our research on corporate children’s rights programs, we have also developed a guide for companies: “Corporate Children’s Rights Programs – Guidance and Best Practice”.

case study

Corporate Programs for Children’s Rights - Guidance and Best Practice

Global Child Forum and the Boston Consulting Group initiated the Corporate Sector and Children´s Rights Benchmark study series in 2013, to fill a gap in the existing research on how the corporate sector addresses children´s rights, both within their operations and in communities. We have produced one global and five regional studies: the Nordic region, the Middle East and Northern Africa; Southern Africa, South America and Southeast Asia. Based on this extensive knowledge, we are now delving deeper into our data in order to provide guidance for companies on how to further their efforts to implement the Children´s Rights and Business Principles. It is evident when analysing our data that almost half (46%) of all businesses establish their own programs and/or donate to charity. We have studied the programs of 13 companies, to identify pertinent common features that can be used as building blocks for other companies. The building blocks needed for a corporate children´s rights program to achieve maximum positive impact are: Relevance, Governance, Collaboration, and Measurement. In this guide, we describe each building block in detail, followed by concrete company examples.

guidance toolkit

Additional insight: Private & State-owned companies

In the report The Corporate Sector and Children’s Rights in the Nordic Region, Global Child Forum and the Boston Consulting Group published the results from a benchmarking of how the 299 largest1 listed Nordic companies address children’s rights in their public reporting. To compare the findings from the screening of publicly listed companies, we assessed 30 non-listed Nordic companies; the 15 largest privately owned and the 15 largest state-owned. A summary of those results are presented below2. Of a total possible score of 9, the privately owned companies scored on average 2.1 points, while state-owned companies scored 3.7 on average. In contrast, the 15 largest listed companies scored 5.1 on average. GCF - BCG Nordic addendum - grafik1 One explanation for the difference could be due to the region’s stringent regulations on sustainability, reporting, and board accountability that affect primarily listed and state-owned companies. Due to the small sample size, not all industries are fully represented; approximately half of the private companies are in the Consumer Goods industry, with the remainder spread across Oil, Gas and Utilities, Food and Beverage and Industrials. The state-owned companies assessed are in all of the industries except ICT. RESULTS PER INDICATOR (%) GCF - BCG Nordic addendum - grafik2 When looking at the results for each of the indicators, it is notable that:

  • None of the privately owned companies have received points on Board Accountability and only two companies (13%) have identified their potential impact on children’s rights in risk assessments and materiality analyses.
  • The private and state-owned companies are lagging behind the listed companies when it comes to reporting on the results of their policies, for example against child labour, and establishing strategic collaborations with child rights organisations.
  • The privately owned companies have an opportunity to improve in addressing children’s rights issues other than child labour, such as product responsibility, responsible marketing or sexual exploitation. ___________________________ Based on revenue.  For more information about the methodology and the indicators used in the screening, please see The Corporate Sector and Children’s Rights in the Nordic Region. Companies that score between 6–9 points are considered high-scorers. Here, only state-owned and privately held companies are shown. For the high-scoring publicly listed companies, please see The Corporate Sector and Children’s Rights in the Nordic Region. The IKEA Group is regstered in the Netherlands. As a consequence, they are not part of the sample of companies included in the total average score of private Nordic companies. However, because of their Nordic origins, their child rights practices have been analysed for the sake of knowledge sharing.   Photo credit: Peter Tandlun

  • benchmark study

    Children's Rights and the Corporate Sector in the Nordic Region

    How are Nordic companies doing on children’s rights? Nordic companies have a reputation for innovation and socially responsible forward-thinking.  But how do the Nordics stack up when reporting  on children’s rights? Global Child Forum just launched the report focusing on the Nordic region  – Children’s Rights and the Corporate Sector in the Nordic Region. This study is the latest in a series of regional and global benchmarks which scans companies from all compass points and identifies if they report on children’s rights indicators. Do Nordic companies integrate children’s rights into core operations?  Address and report on children’s rights issues? Engage with programs that benefit children? The Nordic benchmark study scores 300 top companies headquartered in Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Finland on these, and other, indicators.  The benchmark then assigns both an aggregate regional score as well as individual company scores. All companies included in the study also receive a scorecard with their result and are given an opportunity to respond or give feedback.   What are people saying? Read selected media coverage: Bloomberg: Nordics Lose Halo in Study Ranking Them With Emerging Markets Reuters: Nordic companies fall short on transparency over child rights Dagens Industri: Lågt engagemang för barnens rätt Sisua Radio/Sveriges Radio: Pohjoismaiset suuryritykset eivät loista lasten oikeuksien saralla Aktuell Hållbart: DEBATT Företag måste stärka kontrollen över sina leverantörsled, skriver Théo Jaekel och Jasmin Draszka-Ali, från advokatfirman Vinge.”Barnrättsfrågor – en blind fläck för nordiska storbolag”

    benchmark study

    Dig deeper

    Select a region, industry or theme below to learn more about our work there.

    Regions
    East Asia and Pacific arrow_forward
    Europe and Central Asia arrow_forward
    North America arrow_forward
    South Asia arrow_forward
    Sub-Saharan Africa arrow_forward
    Industries
    Basic Materials arrow_forward
    Consumer Goods arrow_forward
    Financials and Property arrow_forward
    Food and Beverage arrow_forward
    Healthcare arrow_forward
    ICT arrow_forward
    Industrials arrow_forward
    Oil, Gas and Utilities arrow_forward
    Travel and Leisure arrow_forward
    Themes
    Accountability arrow_forward
    Child Labour arrow_forward
    Child participation arrow_forward
    Decent work arrow_forward
    Education arrow_forward
    Gender equality arrow_forward
    Impact investing arrow_forward
    Refugees and Migration arrow_forward
    Reporting arrow_forward