Global Child Forum is issuing an urgent call for business to create tangible initiatives and forge partnerships which advance children’s rights in your operations, supply chains and in the communities in which you operate. We want to create a movement - to deliver actionable initiatives that contribute to advancing children’s rights.
Why now? Because children can't wait.
Join us by signing the pledge and committing to making a difference by taking at least one action in your own company and community.
We will check in with you during the coming months to see how we can support your commitments and highlight your good work on our website and through our social media channels. Select pledgers will be featured at our next Global Child Forum. Check our website for more information, tools and resources to help you on your journey and to chart our Pledge progress. Read the Global Child Forum concept note here.
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1. Advance children’s rights in our company through principles, codes of conduct and policies
I/We commit to advance children’s rights and their protection in our company through statements of business principles, codes of conduct and policies.
Respecting children’s rights in your operations and communities requires that children’s rights are included in a well-articulated statement of your business principles, a strong code of conduct and robust policies.
But policies are only a first step. While many companies have a policy or statement against child labour, there are many issues beyond child labour such as ending child sexual exploitation or on taking responsibility for how their products affect children or taking measures to ensure that children’s rights are considered when operations affect the surrounding community, for example, the right to water, adequate sanitation and a healthy environment.
Explore the Children’s Rights and Business Principles(the Principles) — 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. Then read about what other companies are doing in our Knowledge Center.
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2. Listen to children
I/We commit to listen to children who are impacted by our business and include their views in the decisions that impact their lives.
Young people around the world are often relegated to the side-lines and excluded from having a say in decisions that will affect them. One of the key elements of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child is the right of children to participate in decisions that affect them. Children are critical thinkers, change makers, communicators, innovators and future leaders. In recent years, the importance of young people’s participation in civil society has been increasingly recognised. However, young people´s participation in business decision-making is not as well articulated – yet business impacts children in many ways. Children are engaged in a diverse range of paid and unpaid work in urban and rural settings and they are consumers of products and services that can enhance as well as harm their lives.
For business, young people’s views and input could inform how business work with their suppliers, how they structure their operations and how they develop their products and services to meet the needs and respect the rights of children and young people.
Read UNICEF’S “Every Child’s Right to Be Heard; A Resource Guide on the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child” Hear what the world’s children have to say about their work in Time to Talk’s report.
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3. Initiate a partnership that brings child rights expertise to our organization
I/We commit to initiate at least one partnership that brings to our organization the expertise to support a child-focused program advancing children’s rights.
Companies are charitable and do want to contribute to child rights initiatives. However, when it comes to incorporating children’s rights into their business, only 15% have established strategic partnerships with children’s rights organisations on issues that affect how they run their company.
Businesses are generally not experts on how best to tackle children’s rights issues, and even in cases when they are, it is still relevant to partner with organizations that have a deep understanding and expertise within the local context in question. These organizations can include, for example, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) or government ministries in the country of operation. Partners complement a company’s expertise, providing extensive knowledge on social issues, contacts with local stakeholders, experience in project implementation and significant credibility. Partners also have familiarity with other initiatives in the area, and they can assist in setting up large-scale, high impact programs.
Read “Corporate Programs for Children’s Rights: Guidance and Best Practice” to learn more about the four building blocks for a successful children’s rights program. Check out the Deep Dives in our Knowledge Center to learn how other companies have created promising partnerships. If you are interested in partnering with Global Child Forum, please contact us!
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4. Integrate children’s rights into due diligence processes
I/We commit to integrate children’s rights into our corporate due diligence processes, including risk or impact assessments and reporting mechanisms.
Child-rights due diligence is a way to identify and prevent negative impacts on children’s rights. This process can give businesses a sense of how their actions affect children all over the world. Many companies lack reporting mechanisms. Within the Nordic region, for example, 73% have a policy or statement against child labour, but only 17% of companies report on the results of their policies such as reporting on findings relating to child labour in their supply chain.
Both the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child General Comment No. 16. and The Children’s Rights and Business Principles highlights the importance of human rights due diligence in respecting and protecting child rights. Most often the focus is on mitigating the risks associated with child labour, but effective due diligence should expand beyond child labour.
Furthermore, many companies lack reporting mechanisms. Within the Nordic region, for example, 73% have a policy or statement against child labour, but only 17% of companies report on the results of their policies such as reporting on findings relating to child labour in their supply chain.
The Children’s Rights and Business Atlas can support your company in identifying, prioritizing and mitigating children’s risks in the community and environment. In doing so, you can prevent negative impacts and support the development of healthy and thriving communities for children.
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5. Raise children’s rights to the board level
I/We commit to raise the issue of advancing children’s rights to the board level.
Children’s rights need to be captured as a material issue and taken on board at the highest level of corporate governance. If not, there is little incentive for senior management to pay attention to it. Hence, if board level management is not asking for action or risk assessments in this area, other parts of the organization are less likely to address the issue.
Our Global Child Forum research shows that only 10% of the companies that we have assessed articulate children’s rights issues at the highest level of corporate governance. Such responsibilities might include, for example, receiving and following up on regular reporting. When children’s rights issues are raised at the board level, they infiltrate a company’s DNA. But culture change also needs to live in the collective DNA of employees, investors and consumers. While compliance needs to be prescribed, there also needs to be optimism, trust, conviction, or creativity.
And that’s when real action takes root. Download our Benchmark Series from our Knowledge Center.
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Thank you for committing to advance children’s rights in your business or organization. We´re looking forward to following your progress in the next several months. We might contact you to learn more about your work in this area, and please feel free to share with us your insights and/or best practices along the way. To inspire others, your commitment might be published on our web. If you wish not to be published, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
"The private sector plays an essential role in ensuring that young children not only survive but thrive, by adopting policies and practices for their employees in the workplace, such as increased paid maternity and paternity leave and childcare options, among others.”
María Cristina Perceval, Regional Director for Latin America and the Caribbean UNICEF
"For us it’s normal business conduct to strictly follow universally acknowledged principles and values on human rights and be guided by the highest ethical standards.”
Luciana Alvarez Communication and Sustainability Manager, Duratex
”Our Code of Ethics is our source of values and principles. Together with our organizational culture, it serves as the foundation for our behaviours, attitudes and routines.”
Sónia Cardoso, Executive Sustainability Manager, EDP Brasil
”Through the partnership with Childhood Brasil, we strengthened our network in the community and improved our skills to work against sexual exploitation of children.”
Uilson Paiva, Community Relations Manager, Klabin
“It is important to have a clear purpose for your program, but you don’t need to have a precise plan of what is going to happen – leave planning to country level and always focus on what’s good for the young people in the local context. We have targets for both the youth and the employees that volunteer.”
Christoph Selig, Global Manager ‘GoTeach’, Deutsche Post DHL Group
Deutsche Post DHL Group
“If the focus is on youth, you need to make sure that young people are part of the process, from implementation to delivery. We have a belief in authentic youth engagement to ensure successful programs.”
Helen-Marie Seibel, Manager Global Community Investment, AstraZeneca
“In our program we ensure senior level commitment by having four members from the global management team on our program committee. One of them had to overcome many challenges in her life to reach where she is today – her story relates personally to those of the girls we empower in the program.”
Natasha Kwakwa, ‘Goal’ Program Director, Standard Chartered