The State of Children’s Rights and Business 2021

10 Key Takeaways

Global Child Forum

An Instrument of Change
in Children’s Rights and Business

The Global Child Forum report “The State of Children’s Rights and Business 2021” comes at an auspicious time. Progress that we had hoped to report on since our last benchmark in 2019 is measured. However, the global backdrop of our latest report cannot be ignored – we are still haunted by the ghosts of the global pandemic, the threat of climate change looms large, inequities are breeding inequalities and those who suffer the most as a result are our children.

Amidst this ominous background, at Global Child Forum, we call on businesses to be heroes – to lift us from these doom-and-gloom scenarios into a world where children thrive and live their best lives. We know that business can accomplish this. We have seen it, scored it and measured it. We have heroes among almost all sectors analysed, with Healthcare leading the way, and the Apparel and Retail sector close behind. We have hero companies such as Wilmar International, Vodafone and Telenor. When businesses integrate a children’s rights perspective into their operations – when they see children as key stakeholders and proxy indicators of progress on sustainable development goals – promise turns into practice which turns into progress.

This year’s benchmark looks at 832 global companies – those companies considered to be the most influential in helping us reach the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The companies in the benchmark come from all nine sectors, represent all regions of the world and have been benchmarked on 27 indicators, each indicator clearly defined to provide an accurate overview of how companies are responding to, and reporting on, children’s rights. The benchmark, then, offers us a snapshot of the world’s largest companies, looking at the policies, processes and practices they have put in place to systematize their approach to children’s rights.

For nearly ten years, and in collaboration with Boston Consulting Group, Global Child Forum has been benchmarking companies1. We do this so that we can gain insights into what works for business. We do this so that you, our global business leaders and investors, can work better and smarter to achieve your goals while simultaneously lifting society.

Over the past years, the world has rallied around the SDGs as a set of meaningful goals. We have also seen reporting initiatives, such as the GRI, raise the bar in terms of corporate transparency. Multi-lateral accords and agreements, such as the Paris Climate Agreement and the EU Social Taxonomy currently being negotiated focus our collective efforts on the ways and means of willing positive societal change into existence. Our benchmark is another instrument of change, one which works in synergy with these other initiatives while at the same time providing a unique perspective.

We know that what a company reports on is what is meaningful to them. So, the question is: are companies in fact prioritizing children’s rights among all the other issues on the sustainability agenda? Download the 10 Key Takeaways to learn more.


The 10 Key Takeaways

After analyzing the data in our latest global benchmark; The State of Children’s Rights and Business 2021, we identified the following 10 key takeaways which require urgent calls-to-action:

  1. Only 9% of companies benchmarked can be categorized as Leaders.
  2. Modest improvement since 2019, still a distance to go
  3. Companies need to better understand the impact of their environmental policies on children
  4. Children overlooked as consumers
  5. High scoring companies financially outperform lower scoring companies
  6. The Covid Effect – The role of companies in society expands
  7. Healthcare sector outperforms other sectors
  8. The B2B sector lags behind on all indicators
  9. Companies need to close the gap from child labour policy to actual policy implementation
  10. Europe leads, North America a close second

To learn more, please download the full report.

The State of Children's Rights and Business 2021

To the Report