Investing in children: making the case
“Virtually all companies interact with children in some way…” says Wivina Belmonte, Deputy Regional Director, UNICEF East Asia and Pacific Regional Office. “We see each of these interactions as an opportunity for business to advance children’s rights and wellbeing.”
Supporting children’s rights is not only morally correct, it is also required by international and domestic legal standards. Integrating respect and support for children’s rights entails real benefits for business such as building a positive brand reputation, improving risk management; gaining improved access to skilled labour, increasing employee satisfaction, and securing companies’ social license to operate. “Engaging in public policy dialogues focusing on children is an exercise in enlightened self-interest - an investment, not a cost,” says Belmonte. The flipside of this equation are the risks inherent in ignoring children’s rights, which can have grave consequences for a company’s reputation and bottom line.
Tools and solutions
How can companies understand their impact on children’s rights, mitigate their risks and unlock new opportunities? The Children’s Rights and Business Principles offers a sound starting point by offering businesses, investors, and organizations alike a tool to understand how their actions across the globe impact children’s rights.
In 2012, UNICEF, Save the Children and the UN Global Compact developed 10 business principles focused on safeguarding children’s rights – designed to help companies examine the diverse ways in which business activities impact children through operations and supply chains; products, services and marketing; and the influence they have on surrounding communities. The Children’s Rights and Business Principles provide a guidance for companies to understand their impact on children’s rights, mitigate risks and unlock new opportunities. The Principles help businesses unleash corporate potential to champion children’s rights and to avoid harm.
With the aim of further enabling companies to identify and manage potential infringement of children’s rights, in 2015, Global Child Forum - a leading forum for children’s rights – in partnership with UNICEF, launched the online risk assessment tool the Children’s Rights and Business Atlas. The Atlas is based on the Children’s Rights and Business Principles As Dr Fiona Rotberg, Global Child Forum’s Research Director noted, “Companies tell us they need practical tools and guidelines that help them manage their impact on children’s rights within operations and global supply chains. The Atlas can guide understanding of complex issues and industry trends and help companies include children’s rights assessments into all due-diligence frameworks at country and industry level.”
From principles to practice
While frameworks and tools that help businesses assess their children’s rights impact exist, it is the role of companies to translate such principles into practice.
Ines Kaempfer, Executive Director for the Beijing-based Center for Child Rights and Corporate Social Responsibility (CCR CSR) gives one example of how businesses can contribute significantly to children’s wellbeing, and at the same time raise employee satisfaction and efficiency through company policies and practices when employing migrant workers: “I firmly believe that companies can support both employees and their children through practical schemes such as factory day care centres and lobbying nearby schools to accept children who have arrived with migrant families.”
Another example comes from Albern Murty, CEO of DiGi Telecommunications, Malaysia’s leading telecommunications service provider. While DiGi is driving internet usage in Malaysia, it recognises the need for cyber-security, especially for children, as well as education about the dangers of the internet. Under the Cyber Safe programme, DiGi goes to schools to educate children about how the internet should be used in a safe and responsible way. Murty notes that DiGi’s business is built and guided by the principles that support child rights; they are in fact embedded as part of the company’s DNA.
To learn more about how to move from principles to practices, jointhe Global Child Forum side event on Children’s Rights: Risks and Opportunities for Business, with Ms. Wivina Belmonte, and Dr. Fiona Rotberg among others. The discussion will focus on the need for the private sector to deepen their understanding of and commitment to children’s rights and enable attendees to learn more about:
- The Code of Conduct for the Protection of Children from Sexual Exploitation in Travel and Tourism
- The telecommunications company dtac’s work to protect children online
- The Children’s Rights and Business Atlas, a free online risk assessment and planning tool
About Global Child Forum
Founded in 2009 by the Swedish Royal Family, Global Child Forum is a leading forum for children’s rights and business dedicated to innovative thinking, knowledge-sharing and networking. We believe in the power and responsibility of business, working in partnership with all parts of society, to create a prosperous, sustainable and just society for the world’s children. In addition to our forums, Global Child Forum delivers research perspectives, best practices and risk assessment tools designed to unlock opportunities for business to integrate children’s rights into their operations and communities. For more information, please visit: www.globalchildforum.org.
1. Children’s Rights and the Corporate Sector in Southeast Asia http://www.globalchildforum.org/resources/childrens-rights-and-the-corporate-sector-in-southeast-asia-2/