Senior Children´s Rights and Business Specialist
Corporate Sector & Children’s Rights Benchmark
Global Child Forum and the Boston Consulting Group initiated the Corporate Sector and Children’ Rights Benchmark series in 2013 to fill a gap in research. To date, we have produced three global and six regional studies of the Nordic region, the Middle East and Northern Africa; Southern Africa, South America and Southeast Asia, covering more than 3000 companies across eight sectors. The purpose of the series is to develop a children’s rights benchmark for the corporate sector and enable tracking of progress over time on how children’s rights are addressed by business.
In 2020, Global Child Forum joined the World Benchmarking Alliance and took the decision to adopt the SDG2000 as our base universe. Read more about how companies are selected for the SDG2000 list here.
The eight sectors are largely based on the Refinitiv Business Classification (TRBC): Apparel & Retail; Business to Business – B2B; Basic Materials; Energy & Utilities; Financials; Food, Beverage & Personal Care (Consumer Goods); Healthcare, Technology & Telecommunications.
During the first half of the year, publicly available information in English from the selected companies (for example, in sustainability reports) has been screened against a set of 25 indicators. Each indicator has a possible score of;
0 – No information could be found;
5 – The company is reporting on human rights or sustainability for this issue;
10 – The company reports on how they address children’s rights for this issue.
The results in our benchmark are based only on publicly available data, systematically assessing corporate organisational response to impact on children’s rights. However we do not evaluate actual compliance with policies, nor outcomes of policies or programmes. The individual results are shared with each company for feedback and possible corrections to ensure a fair assessment, prior to the launch of the results.
The indicators align clearly with the Children’s Rights and Business Principles and are divided into the impact areas of Governance & Collaboration, Workplace, Marketplace, and Community & Environment. This approach not only offers an overview of what companies are doing in each of these spheres of influence, it also gives companies an opportunity to identify areas for improvement in relation to their operations.
 Since the 2021 study the number of indicators decreased from 27 to 25
 The original methodology applied until 2017 used 7 indicators with a binary answer option of yes (score 1) or no (score 0), and a total possible score of 9 (two of the questions were weighted and had a possible score of 2)
Global Child Forum bases its 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 have been made available to all companies for fact checking purposes, but not all companies acknowledge this review process. Read more at the bottom of this page.
New to our benchmark methodology 2022 was a focus on how successfully companies integrate children’s rights into their governance mechanisms. This area, Governance & Collaborations, gathers indicators that were previously included in the other three impact areas (Workplace, Marketplace and Community & Environment) and centres on:
A company’s governance establishes the foundation for how a company views and acts with respect to its impact on children’s lives, across all issues. Maintaining a clear commitment and having directives emanating from top management determines how important an issue is perceived to be throughout operations.
Collaboration is key to addressing many of the areas where business impacts children’s lives. Often these issues are systemic, so a single actor has limited or no ability to solve an issue, or have an impact operating individually. It is essential to seek out and consult with experts, such as children’s rights organisations, to ensure that any initiative undertaken is in accordance with best practice, and does not result in unintended negative consequences.
In our benchmark, impact through operations and supply chains – specifically in relation to employment – is covered under the Workplace impact area. In Workplace, companies impact children’s lives in several ways:
Child labour and decent work for young workers. Child labour, often the first topic that comes to mind when considering how children’s rights are relevant to the corporate sector, requires companies to take appropriate measures to assess risks, prohibit, prevent, report on findings, and provide remediation. Ensuring decent working conditions and appropriate job opportunities for young people is another key element.
Family-friendly policies and programmes are of great relevance to children’s daily lives. Family-friendly efforts by companies impact the time that children can spend with their parents (for example, through parental leave that exceeds what is legally required, or availability of flexible work arrangements), ensuring that children are looked after when parents are at work.
In our benchmark, impact through marketing and products or services is covered under the Marketplace impact area. Companies impact children’s lives in several ways in Marketplace:
Product and service safety is particularly important when products are intended for children’s and teenagers’ consumption. Moreover, even when a product or service is not explicitly intended for children, there is the possibility of children coming into contact with it. So it follows that children should be considered from a perspective of protecting them.
Responsible marketing is important for children and young people, as the recipients of marketing messages. Companies need to recognise and act on children’s specific vulnerabilities, putting into practice, for example, restrictions on when and to whom to market. In addition, even if unintentionally, children and teenagers are constantly exposed to marketing messages meant for adults, especially online. Here, companies need to consider whether they are propagating unhealthy ideals or lifestyles, or considering how children and young people are portrayed in marketing to adults. Consideration should be given to determining whether a child or a young person is equipped to contextualise these messages and understand them properly.
Products and services that support children are an often overlooked area. Companies can have a significant and positive impact on children’s and teenagers’ lives by ensuring they have access to products and services that take their needs into consideration.
With positive messaging, companies have the opportunity to not only prevent harm by practicing responsible marketing, but also create positive impact. In the arena of mental health and self-esteem, for example, a company could make use of their communication platforms to reach a young audience.
In our benchmark, impact through operations and supply chains – specifically in relation to more indirect impact – is covered under the Community & Environment impact area. Here, companies impact children’s lives in several ways:
Environmental impact is major for this sector due to its intensive use of land, chemicals and water, as well as through energy consumption and packaging. Overall, research is clear that negative environmental impacts have a disproportionate effect on children compared to adults. This is true both when considering the present day – for example, pollution, water, and land use, where children are particularly vulnerable – and the future, through long-term impacts such as CO2 emissions, lack of circularity and unsustainable use of natural resources. It has also been shown that climate change has a more immediate effect on children, negatively impacting their physical health and mental well-being.
Social impact is particularly far reaching with regard to children, for example, in access to healthcare, education, and social protection. These issues are primarily the responsibility of the public sector. Nevertheless, business has an essential role, both in environments where state protection is weak and in cases where companies want to contribute to (pay back) society by, for example, supporting children’s access to quality education, healthcare, or a sustainable living environment.
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 impact areas of 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.
Watch this video to learn more about the methodology!
The information and data sourced by Global Child Forum is collected from publicly available sources (herein referred to as “Benchmark Data”). Benchmark Data is provided free of charge, in good faith, and for informational purposes only. Global Child Forum does not verify data sources beyond what is made available on company websites. Benchmark scores are shared with benchmarked companies and they have an opportunity to provide additional information that may impact their score.
Benchmark Data shall in no event, whether used in whole or in part,
(i) constitute or be construed as investment advice;
(ii) be interpreted as an offer, recommendation or solicitation to any person to buy or sell securities, to select a project, or make any kind of business transactions;
(iii) represent an assessment of any issuer’s economic performance, financial obligations nor creditworthiness;
(iv) be a substitute for a professional advice; or
(v) otherwise be used as a reference of past performance to guarantee any future results.
Benchmark Data and related information is subject to continuous change and therefore may not be up-to-date, complete, accurate, error-free, or fit for a particular purpose. Benchmark Data is provided “as is” and without warranties of any kind. Benchmark Data only reflect Global Child Forum’s opinion at the date of their elaboration and publication. Global Child Forum does not guarantee the consistency, adequacy or completeness of any information and is not responsible for any errors or omissions or for the results obtained from the use of such information.
Global Child Forum and its employees, contractors, suppliers, and partners are not liable to any third party for damages, expenses or loss of any kind, whether direct or indirect, howsoever caused, arising from the use of the Benchmark Data, or opinions contained herein, in any manner whatsoever.
Senior Children´s Rights and Business Specialist