The State of Children's Rights and Business

Nordic Spotlight

Global Child Forum

The State of Children's Rights and Business 2021 - Nordic Spotlight

This Nordic Spotlight focusses on assessing the leading companies in the Nordic region, which were also included in our global children’s rights and business benchmark, conducted in cooperation with Boston Consulting Group.[1] Global Child Forum’s global benchmark looked at 832 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. To access the complete global benchmark, including all company scores, see this page.

This Nordic Spotlight takes a closer looks at 26 of the Nordic region’s largest company and exposes some regional strengths, weaknesses and areas for improvement.

[1] For more information about the study and the collaboration with Boston Consulting Group go to About our Benchmark.

NORDIC COMPANIES OUTPERFORM THE REST OF THE WORLD – FINLAND AND NORWAY ARE LEADING WITHIN NORDICS

The Nordic countries, led by Finland and Norway, are in the forefront when it comes to children’s rights. Though the sample size for the Nordic countries is small, what stands out is that their average scores are significantly higher than those in the global sample.[1]

However, our results show that Danish companies are lagging compared to their Nordic peers, and with the exception of Arla Foods, Danish companies are among the low scorers in the region.

[1] N.B. The Nordic sample is considerably smaller than the global sample of 832 companies, and there are only a few companies per country represented. Therefore, the comparisons that can be made with the global results are limited.

TOP 5 SCORING COMPANIES

The top five scoring companies in the Nordic countries represent a range of different industries, demonstrating that consideration of children’s rights is not the exclusive domain of consumer-facing companies and those having a direct impact on children through their products and services.

It is highly encouraging to see that Norsk Hydro, Volvo AB and Neste all score well and are guided by a clear commitment to children even though their products and services are not always obviously associated with making a direct impact on children’s lives.

Because they deliver on their commitments to children’s rights, these companies are models, providing inspiration, and more importantly, concrete actions for companies evolving their approach to children’s rights.

Of the 12 companies that were also included in the 2019 global benchmark, Essity and Neste are most improved, progressing from Achievers to Leaders (average score greater than 7.6):

NORDIC COMPANIES STRONG ON WORKPLACE , WEAK ON MARKETPLACE

The Corporate Sector and Children’s Benchmark assesses how corporates disclose their impact on children’s lives across a wide range of issues. The 27 indicators are divided into three Impact Areas, and every company in the benchmark receives a score or 0, 5 or 10[1] for each area:

  • Workplace – child labour and family-friendly workplaces
  • Marketplace – responsible marketing/communication and product safety
  • Community & Environment – indirect impacts from operations and supply chain

As with the overall results, with the exception of Danish companies, Nordic companies score higher than the global average across all three impact areas:

[1] For more detailed information about the Methodology see the About our Benchmark page

WORKPLACE – STRONGEST AREA FOR NORDIC COMPANIES

Companies in Finland, Norway and Sweden, score best in the Workplace area. The highest scoring companies in the Workplace area, scoring a full 10 on all indicators, are:

The Workplace impact area is also where we find two of the highest scoring indicators for the Nordic companies overall.

However, Nordic companies score below the global average on having programmes that support parents; for example, allowing parental leave that exceeds legal requirements, offering childcare, etc. This could be related to the relatively extensive social protection system already in place for parents and children in these countries.

MARKETPLACE – AREA FOR NORDIC COMPANIES TO IMPROVE

The highest scoring companies in the area of Marketplace are:

The Marketplace area presents the greatest opportunity for improvement. The Nordic companies on average score quite low here, despite being slightly higher than the global numbers. It is also within Marketplace where we find the majority of the low scoring indicators:

COMMUNITY & ENVIRONMENT – STRONG ENVIRONMENTAL FOCUS

The highest scoring companies in the area of Community & Environment are:

When it comes to the Community & Environment, Nordic companies follow the global trend of scoring well on indicators related to reporting on environmental policies and impact. Many also report on having programmes to support children in the community. However, only Norsk Hydro reports on actual or potential negative impacts on children in the community resulting from their own or their suppliers’ operations.

These results indicate that the existing programmes are not directly linked to the companies’ own impact in society. This should be seen as both an unexplored opportunity and a potential risk if negative impact is not detected. It also suggests that companies are not connecting their actions on reducing negative environmental impact to their impact on society and communities.

It is interesting to note that the Nordic countries score lower than the global average for programmes supporting children in the community. As was the case with the family-friendly workplace indicator previously mentioned, this is perhaps explained by the existence of extensive social protection measures and access to free education and healthcare programs in the Nordic countries, with the result that companies in the region see less of a need to focus on these issues than do many of their global peers.

Read more: For more information on best performing companies and high and low scoring indicators for each sector on the global level, go to “Sector Scorecards

Appendix

The State of Children’s Rights and Business 2021

All Nordic companies included in the study

 

The State of Children's Rights and Business 2021

Report overview