“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.
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.
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.
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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.
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.
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.
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.
Under the theme “Mobility & Connectivity: Children’s Rights and Sustainable Business”, Forum attendees were inspired through plenary panels and solution-driven ActionLabs sessions. The Forum highlighted opportunities to advance children’s rights presented by fast technological progress, a young, growing workforce and the expanding travel and tourism in the region and explored how stakeholders could ensure that children’s rights are respected and fulfilled. Read the report!
This year’s Global Child Forum welcomed heads of state and heads of companies, leaders from civil society and learners from across South America and beyond. All came together with the goal of providing the region’s children with the best possible path to productive adulthood. All came together with the belief that the business sector is key to achieving that goal. Nearly 400 delegates gathered in the FIESP building on Avenida Paulista in São Paulo, its soaring modernist architecture a fitting backdrop for tackling a far-reaching children’s rights agenda. Read the Forum report — full of inspiration, ideas for action and case stories.
Swedbank Robur is one of the largest asset managers in Scandinavia and the Baltic region and has worked with Save the Children since 2009. As an owner and investor Swedbank Robur can influence companies to take child rights into account. Anna Nilsson is Head of Sustainability at Swedbank Robur. Children’s rights and business videos
Save the Children Sweden ...
Children’s rights are an essential investment in a sustainable future. Safeguarding these rights helps build the strong, well-educated communities that are vital to creating stable, inclusive and productive societies. The private sector impacts children’s lives both directly and indirectly, and all companies in all industries – global, regional or local – can make a difference. Business activity influences the daily life of children in a number of ways, from impoverished communities where children are held back from getting an education because they need to support the family with their income, to the marketplace where children react to marketing messages and learn about the world via the many products surrounding them. Companies that want to take part in the movement pushing sustainable development forward, creating the world that we together have formulated in the Sustainable Development Goals and Agenda 2030, need to safeguard, empower and consider the opinions of those we should be creating that world together with. Considering children’s rights holds the possibility of enriching your business and easing your way into the challenges of the future. Read these statements from companies and businesses that have incorporated a child rights approach into their work.
Save the Children
No. 4 in a series of company reflections for the Global Child Forum on the ways in which companies address children’s rights and child-related issues. The study showcases Wilmar’s path towards establishing more sustainable business practices and developing a better understanding of the need to integrate a children’s rights perspective across its operations and suppliers. Click here to read the State of Children’s Rights in Southeast Asia Benchmark 2020.
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.
To mark our 10-year anniversary, and to acknowledge the 30th anniversary of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, we asked young people and adult stakeholders what they see as the most critical issues for business to consider in the coming decade. To answer this question, we commissioned a global survey – scanning opinions from Stockholm to Sao Paolo – to listen and learn so that we can better guide companies along their journey to create a better world for children. So what are the top 10 children’s rights and business issues? Read on to find out!
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.
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.
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.
In an effort to provide insights and guidance on how businesses protect – or fall short in protecting – children’s rights in the Nordic Region, 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 2016, Global Child Forum, in partnership with Boston Consulting Group, published a benchmark study of the 299 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.
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.
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”.
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.
How are South American companies doing on children’s rights?
The Corporate Sector and Children’s Rights in South America is the latest in a series of regional and global benchmarks, done in collaboration with the Boston Consulting Group (BCG), which scans companies from all compass points and identifies if they report on children’s rights indicators.
Do South American companies integrate children’s rights into core operations? Address and report on children’s rights issues? Engage with programs that benefit children?
The South American benchmark study scored 282 top companies headquartered in Brazil, Chile, Argentina, Colombia, Peru, Venezuela, Ecuador and Uruguay 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.
Regional Industry Results (Average score per industry)
The benchmark report was launched at the Global Child Forum on South America on April 4th 2017 in São Paulo, Brazil.
For more information on the report contact:
Nina Vollmer, Research Manager
firstname.lastname@example.org For all media inquiries, contact: Linda Lodding, Head of Communications
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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. 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 (%) When looking at the results for each of the indicators, it is notable that:
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”
This benchmark study investigates the 289 largest publicly traded companies in Southeast Asia (based on revenue for 2014). Without measuring actual performance or compliance, the study aims to highlight if and how these companies address and report on children’s rights by reviewing and assessing publicly available information against nine indicators. The 289 companies selected represent nine different industry sectors that are exposed to or whose operations impact children’s rights issues. The purpose of the benchmark studies is to to analyse trends on a global and regional scale and to enable tracking of progress on how the corporate sector addresses children’s rights over time.
Sansiri is a leading private real estate company in Thailand with a revenue of $864 million for 2014. The deep dive explores some of the company’s initiatives, such as its educational programs, its corporate structure in regards to sustainability and its work alongside the government and the World Health Organisation to improve health benefits for migrant workers.
This reference documents gives concrete guidance on how to report on children’s rights. This document can serve as both a tool for companies to assess themselves, or to get a greater understanding of the Global Child Forum’s methodology in carrying out its benchmark studies.
The infographic is a quick snapshot of a few of our reports, including: Children’s Rights and the Corporate Sector (Global Study, 2014), Children’s Rights and the Corporate Sector (MENA Study, 2014), Children Rights and the Corporate Sector (Southern Africa Study, 2015). The infographic includes short summaries of the studies carried out by the Global Child Forum and Boston Consulting Group highlighting key conclusions of the studies.
Select a region, industry or theme below to learn more about our work there.