The issue of transparency is important for Global Child Forum. As you know, we do a global benchmark series that assesses corporations on a variety of indicators. How does H&M work with transparency, follow-up and audits? And what do you do if you find child labor in your in your supply chain?
Since we don’t own factories, it’s important for us to make sure that our suppliers meet our requirements. To ensure this, we do a lot of regular audits; last year we did more than 3,000 audits at our supplier factories. It rarely happens that we find under-age workers, but if we do then we look at the situation and try to determine how we can best help the child in this incident. How can we make sure that they go to school and that the family is compensated for the shortage of income? Of course it’s important to also look at why this happen in the first place and understand how we can work proactively to ensure it doesn’t happen again. But audits are only a snapshot of that factory at that given time so it’s important for us to work also with proactive measures.
As you know, Global Child Forum is marking its 10-year anniversary this year. Instead of looking back 10 years, if we were to look forward 10 years what do you see as some of the more challenging children’s rights issues that we need to be aware of and how can we can start working on solutions already today?
The future is so unpredictable and I think that’s one of the biggest challenges that we face; that you don’t know what’s around the corner. But the two things that make me lay awake at night, one of them is concern for what job creation will look like in the future. Our industry, like so many others, is undergoing massive transformation due to technological advancements and so on. And at the same time, we have a really important role to play to make sure that people have jobs and good jobs so that they can provide for themselves. So how to do that transition in a responsible way is one of the challenges that we will face.
Secondly, H&M, like many other companies, is witnessing the emergence of AI (artificial intelligence) and advanced analytics. And while I think that AI is going to bring about fantastic opportunities, it will also bring forth a lot of challenges. We need to make sure we look at this from a child right’s perspective to see what AI actually means for children.
We are now looking into ensuring that the child-related data that we do get and use is handled properly and in no way negatively impacts children. For example, we need to make sure that children are not being targeted by the wrong communication and, once they become older, we want to use our communication channels to promote diversity, good ideals and values so that we move from trying to avoid harm to really creating positive impact.
Thank you so much, Anna! We have a lot of work to do ahead of us.