The State of Children's Rights and Business 2022
Tech & Telecom deep dive
This examination of the T&T sector is an outgrowth of a larger undertaking, our Global Benchmark report. In this report we assess the publicly available information of the 252 companies in the sector deemed most influential to achieve the SDGs.1 The findings in this report are not a marked departure from findings of previous global benchmark reports: companies tend to score better with regard to establishing policies and making commitments. However, when transparency as to company processes and outcomes and results are considered, scores here are lower. Bearing in mind that our loudest messages are conveyed through our actions, the majority of companies we looked at must narrow the disclosure gap between what is being promised in policies and what is being reported on.
– Electronics particularly score better than the other industries in the Workplace area, which covers issues such as child labour and family-friendly workplace policies. For a majority of companies in the industry though, there is room for improvement when it comes to disclosing not only policies and commitments, but also the outcomes and effects of them.
– Telecommunications particularly score better than the other industries in the Marketplace area, which covers products and marketing that both protects and supports children. However, the average score for marketplace is still under 5 (out of 10) and this small momentum needs to be accelerated by most companies in the industry.
– IT Software & Services is lagging overall and have no so called “Leader” companies at all (i.e. that score an average above 7.5 out of 10). The gap between disclosing policies on the one hand and outcomes or effects on the other is especially large among the IT Software & Services companies.
Products and services to support children – a missed opportunity
While the Technology and Telecommunications sector performs well as compared to other sectors (see the Global Study) there is enormous opportunity to have a positive impact on children’s lives while and at the same time developing business/product offerings in a manner that recognizes the fresh perspectives that surface when the viewpoint of children is valued.
There are companies to look towards for how product design can be enhanced by integrating children’s perspective in the sector – creating a positive impact on children while at the same time supporting the business and enhancing the reputation of these companies.
And yet, our findings show that most companies in this sector continue to miss out. They fail to recognize the opportunities that come with keeping a focus on children when designing services. And by failing to robustly disclose on outcomes and results, they fail to take advantage of their ability to improve children’s lives.
Connecting climate efforts and social impact
We find ourselves at a crossroads. On the one hand, the reality of climate change demands that companies put global targets for reductions of greenhouse gas emissions at the top of their agendas. On the other hand, few companies seem to connect their actions in this regard with their potential impacts on children and young people (who are, ironically, one of the groups most vocal about the need for environmental action). The companies we looked at very much approach climate change and environmental impacts as being separate from social impacts.
Calls for environmental justice and socially equitable adaption strategies make clear that this segregated approach is no longer an option. Whether or not the Technology & Telecommunications sector as a whole will ignite and sustain the change required to redirect their business-as-usual toward a more sustainable future remains to be seen.