Listening to the
Global Child Forum
Published: February 1, 2021
By Global Child Forum’s Child and Youth Advisory Group for the project on Children’s Participation in Business.
Today’s youth are change-makers –championing on issues from climate change to racial justice. They not only bring energy to these debates, but also offer fresh perspectives and innovative solutions that stand to benefit society as a whole. But what can business learn from including children in their business decisions? How can including children be done sensitively and appropriately?
Global Child Forum has just released its latest guide – Children’s Participation: How To Involve Children in Decision-Making to help business navigate this course – and reap the benefits of youth insights. This guide provides a pathway for businesses to incorporate children’s opinions in their businesses. It’s been written by experts in the field as well as informed by our experiences and ideas. The case studies in the guide also give practical examples of how companies have listened to children and the benefits of these initiatives.
In preparing this guide, Global Child Forum is appreciative for the input from our Child and Youth Advisory Group. This blog post is a synopsis of the guide’s Foreword, authored by the Child and Youth Advisory Members.
The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) underscores the importance of engaging with children. Under the Convention, children have the right to express their own opinions, to have those opinions heard, to be protected from abuse and exploitation, and to have their privacy protected. The CRC guides the philosophy that children are independent human beings with unique abilities to contribute to their communities – and we agree.
While children need to be protected from exploitation or harm by businesses, that’s not enough. We have the right to participate, and businesses can benefit from our active participation. Children have fresh, unique viewpoints and perspectives that may not be offered by adults. Children also can provide unbiased, honest opinions that are less clouded by discriminatory thinking and are enhanced by their unbridled creativity. Businesses that don’t embrace children’s ideas are at a disadvantage.
In fact, children’s participation in business is not a one-way relationship but a symbiotic one. Involving children and youth — whether through focus groups, volunteering, or formal employment — teaches them to exercise their rights to participate and speak up. Children’s contributions are recognised, and involvement gives them an important sense of accomplishment in the world. This builds children’s confidence and teaches them that their ideas are heard and valued.
Benefits of youth participation
Businesses are in a unique position to provide resources to help grow the next generation of leaders. Much like education, involving children in business is an investment that will pay dividends both for humanity and the economy. The earlier children develop essential soft skills such as teamwork, the better. If businesses mentor young people, these mentees become potential future employees and active, caring citizens in society.
When children are actively empowered to create change in businesses, businesses benefit both in the present and the future. As youth, we want to challenge both individuals and businesses to question their involvement with children. What do you know about children’s rights? Have you positively involved children in your business? If your involvement is lacking, then why? What can you do to change that?
From Australia to Zimbabwe, businesses everywhere face a risk of exploiting children. Our issues are not simply local, they are global, and need to be emphasised everywhere in society, especially within our businesses.
Global Child Forum’s Children’s Participation: How To Involve Children in Business Decision-Making provides a pathway for businesses to incorporate children’s opinions in their businesses. It’s been written by experts in the field as well as informed by our experiences and ideas. The case studies in the guide also give practical examples of how companies have listened to children and the benefits of these initiatives. By putting into action the principles in this resource and sharing it with other businesses, you are one step closer to creating a fairer society for children.
When children are incorporated meaningfully into corporations, everyone benefits in regard to tangible profits and the intangible development of human capital.
Invest in us.
It makes simple economic sense.
Child and Youth Advisory Group
Aurora Fox, Nicholas Gutri, The Hoang, Grace Jones, Allen Lu, Jennifer MacDonald, Tamara Sikombe, 1 Anonymous Advisory Member
(Two members are not photographed; and project personnel Reah (Hyun Ju) Shin and Tara Collins are on the left and middle of the bottom row respectively.)