By Global Child Forum’s Child and Youth Advisory Group for the project on Children’s Participation in Business.
Today’s youth are change-makers –championing on issues from climate change to racial justice. They not only bring energy to these debates, but also offer fresh perspectives and innovative solutions that stand to benefit society as a whole. But what can business learn from including children in their business decisions? How can including children be done sensitively and appropriately?
Global Child Forum has just released its latest guide – Children’s Participation: How To Involve Children in Decision-Making to help business navigate this course – and reap the benefits of youth insights. This guide provides a pathway for businesses to incorporate children’s opinions in their businesses. It’s been written by experts in the field as well as informed by our experiences and ideas. The case studies in the guide also give practical examples of how companies have listened to children and the benefits of these initiatives.
In preparing this guide, Global Child Forum is appreciative for the input from our Child and Youth Advisory Group. This blog post is a synopsis of the guide’s Foreword, authored by the Child and Youth Advisory Members.
The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) underscores the importance of engaging with children. Under the Convention, children have the right to express their own opinions, to have those opinions heard, to be protected from abuse and exploitation, and to have their privacy protected. The CRC guides the philosophy that children are independent human beings with unique abilities to contribute to their communities – and we agree.
While children need to be protected from exploitation or harm by businesses, that’s not enough. We have the right to participate, and businesses can benefit from our active participation. Children have fresh, unique viewpoints and perspectives that may not be offered by adults. Children also can provide unbiased, honest opinions that are less clouded by discriminatory thinking and are enhanced by their unbridled creativity. Businesses that don’t embrace children’s ideas are at a disadvantage.
In fact, children’s participation in business is not a one-way relationship but a symbiotic one. Involving children and youth — whether through focus groups, volunteering, or formal employment — teaches them to exercise their rights to participate and speak up. Children’s contributions are recognised, and involvement gives them an important sense of accomplishment in the world. This builds children’s confidence and teaches them that their ideas are heard and valued.
Benefits of youth participation
Businesses are in a unique position to provide resources to help grow the next generation of leaders. Much like education, involving children in business is an investment that will pay dividends both for humanity and the economy. The earlier children develop essential soft skills such as teamwork, the better. If businesses mentor young people, these mentees become potential future employees and active, caring citizens in society.
When children are actively empowered to create change in businesses, businesses benefit both in the present and the future. As youth, we want to challenge both individuals and businesses to question their involvement with children. What do you know about children’s rights? Have you positively involved children in your business? If your involvement is lacking, then why? What can you do to change that?
From Australia to Zimbabwe, businesses everywhere face a risk of exploiting children. Our issues are not simply local, they are global, and need to be emphasised everywhere in society, especially within our businesses.
Global Child Forum’s Children’s Participation: How To Involve Children in Business Decision-Making provides a pathway for businesses to incorporate children’s opinions in their businesses. It’s been written by experts in the field as well as informed by our experiences and ideas. The case studies in the guide also give practical examples of how companies have listened to children and the benefits of these initiatives. By putting into action the principles in this resource and sharing it with other businesses, you are one step closer to creating a fairer society for children.
When children are incorporated meaningfully into corporations, everyone benefits in regard to tangible profits and the intangible development of human capital.
Invest in us.
It makes simple economic sense.
(Two members are not photographed; and project personnel Reah (Hyun Ju) Shin and Tara Collins are on the left and middle of the bottom row respectively.)
Aurora Fox, Nicholas Gutri, The Hoang, Grace Jones, Allen Lu, Jennifer MacDonald, Tamara Sikombe, and 1 Anonymous Advisory Member
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The State of Children’s Rights and Business 2019, is a bold undertaking and showcases the results of nearly year-long review and analysis of just under 700 of the world’s leading companies, in nine sectors and along 20 children’s rights indicators. While the resulting data can be statistically complex, the underlying ambition was relatively straightforward. We wanted to learn more about how the corporate sector is doing with regard to integrating children’s rights into both their operations and their relationships with the communities in which they operate.
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.
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.
In the final days before lockdown was introduced in the United Kingdom, CRIN hosted a panel discussion on surveillance and facial recognition at the Tate Modern where we addressed some of the risks they pose for children’s rights. Since then, the Covid-19 pandemic has forced many people to move their lives almost exclusively online, as adults began working from home and schools resorted to online learning. Such big changes, however, raise basic questions.
Select a region, industry or theme below to learn more about our work there.