The State of Children’s Rights and Business 2021

About our Benchmark

Global Child Forum

How is the sample selected?

In 2020, Global Child Forum joined the World Benchmarking Alliance and at the same time took the decision to adopt the SDG2000 as our base universe. Read more about how companies are selected for the SDG2000 list here. The 832 companies that make up this study, have been selected from the SDG2000 list based on being the largest by revenue (2020), as well as geographical and sector spread.

The nine sectors are largely based on the The Refinitiv Business Classification (TRBC)*: Apparel & Retail; B2B; Basic Materials; Energy & Utilities; Financials; Food, Beverage & Personal Care; Healthcare, Technology & Telecom; Travel and Leisure.

Download full Methodology

Global Benchmark 2021 - Methodology

About the Scoring

The benchmark methodology has 3 scoring levels for each of the 27 indicators:

  • Score 0
    No evidence could be found
  • Score 5
    There is information on this issue in general regarding e.g. sustainability or human rights
  • Score 10
    There is information on this issue with specific mention of children

About the
Corporate Response Maturity Ladder

To assess the degree to which a child rights issue has been addressed and integrated in a meaningful way by a company, the benchmark indicators are grouped into three maturity steps:


The first indicator of whether a company has truly integrated a children’s rights perspective is whether the company addresses children’s rights issues through a policy or an explicit commitment in their publicly available documents. Commitments can cover different aspects of children’s rights across the areas of the Workplace, Marketplace, and Community & Environment, and might include child labour, responsible marketing to children, product safety or a commitment to contribute in a positive way to children in the local community.


The next level of integration of a children’s rights perspective is the extent to which these policies have been integrated into an organisation’s processes. For instance, is the board ultimately accountable? Does it receive regular updates about developments on these issues? Are children’s rights issues included in materiality analyses? Does the company conduct supplier assessments? In addition, are there grievance mechanisms in place that allow both internal and external actors to report on cases of misconduct in relation to children’s rights issues?


While policies and commitments are important to establish where a company stands on issues, such statements mean little if there is no periodic review, follow-up, and impact evaluation. To accomplish this, it’s essential that companies report on results (both positive and negative). In addition, companies need to address their impacts, mitigate those that are negative, and contribute to positive development.

About the
Performance Groups

Explaining Leaders, Achievers, Improvers and Beginners

Based on the overall average results, companies in the study have been divided into “performance groups”. N.B. These descriptions are generalizations of likely characteristics and may not apply to every individual company within the group.

BEGINNERS – average score between 0-2.5 out of 10
At this level, the company has developed just a few policies and practices that address the organisation’s impact on human rights and sustainability in general. Children’s rights are most likely not covered in their reporting.

IMPROVERS – average score between 2.6-5.0 out of 10
Improvers have some understanding of human rights and sustainability and have implemented it to some extent into policies and practices. The company may have integrated children’s rights at the policy level, for example in a child labour policy or environmental policy. Alternatively, they might have a community programme in place that addresses children’s rights.

ACHIEVERS – average score between 5.1-7.5 out of 10
The company has developed and implemented several policies and practices that address the organisation’s impact on children’s rights. They have embedded some of these policies into company practice. They follow through with monitoring, transparent reporting, and programmes to create action for children’s rights. The company often collaborates with a child rights organisation for their expertise and knowledge.

LEADERS – average score between 7.6-10 out of 10
The company has developed and implemented several policies and practices that address the organisation’s impact on children’s rights across several important areas. The company has taken concrete steps to move beyond policies and has embedded children’s rights into company practice. They follow up through monitoring, transparent reporting, and programmes to create action for children’s rights. The company also collaborates with others to a great extent.

Updated Methodology

When comparing 2019 vs 2021 scores it is important to note that there have been significant improvements in the methodology in 2021, making it harder to score high scores. These changes include, addition of scores of ‘5’ in places where it was only 0 or 10 in 2019; splitting different indicators across impact; and changing criteria to score 10. Thus, it was essential to adjust the 2019 scores to the updated methodology to arrive at meaningful comparison.

For more information about the impact areas, see the full methodology on this page.

Key methodology changes – 10 indicators have changed

WP = Workplace
MP = Marketplace
CE= Community & Environment


Global Child Forum basis it’s benchmark scores on a company’s publicly available information, systematically assessing a corporate’s response to impacts on children’s rights. Scores are not a  measure of actual company compliance with policies, outcomes of policies and/or programmes. Final scorecards were made available to all companies for fact checking purposes, but not all companies have acknowledged this review process. (short text)

Global Child Forum cannot offer a guarantee that the given information is accurate or complete nor does Global Child Forum verify, by other means, if the reporting and information gathered is truthful or correct. Furthermore, Global Child Forum does not undertake any obligation to provide benchmark users with additional information, to update the information provided, or correct any inaccuracies which may become apparent beyond the fact checking process described above.

Photo disclaimer

Photographs used are for illustrative purposes only and do not necessarily represent initiatives discussed in the report nor imply any particular attitudes, behaviours or actions on the part of those who appear in the photographs.

In collaboration with Boston Consulting Group

Global Child Forum and Boston Consulting Group in Sweden initiated their collaboration on the Corporate Sector and Children’s Rights Benchmark Series in 2013. The goal was to fill a gap in research and to develop a children’s rights benchmark for the corporate sector, enabling progress to be tracked over time on how children’s rights are addressed by businesses across sectors worldwide.

Using their extensive knowledge and expertise, Boston Consulting Group supports the benchmark project primarily with:

  • strategic advice and development
  • analysis of the collected data and the universe (companies included in the study)

The State of Children's Rights and Business 2021

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