For the first time since 2000, child labor is increasing as per ILO (International Labor Organization) and UNICEF (United Nations Children’s Fund). A peak of 160 million children were the victims of forced laborers in 2020. Now, businesses need to take actions to eliminate child labor.
Against the background of distressing child labor trends, Covid-19 arrived, bringing in with its tools of the tragic massive storm: a larger supply of susceptible children, higher demand for cheap labor, families, and companies stretched financially, businesses relocating resources from improving business to sustaining it. This decreased the protection against child labor because of the decreased enforcement and regulatory oversights, like factory visits. There are many businesses who wonder how can we help stop child labour? This article is specially designed for them.
How Can Businesses Take Actions To Eliminate Child Labor?
The use of underage children as labor in the farms, factories, trucks, and mines across the globe to boost our global supply chain is known as modern slavery. And this is endemic. Presently, an anticipated 160 million children between the age of 5 and 17 are employed as laborers across the globe. This accounts for 1 in every 10 children throughout the world.
In the case of most global entities, underaged labor, the exploitation of children feels remote. While each business leader knows the narrations of the young children and women in the factories of the shoe in the late 90s, few entities truly evaluate that these scenarios likely prevail in their own supply chain presently.
The reality is child labor is present in many present-day finished produce and goods and is not merely stuck between the production of cocoa or agriculture. This is a gut-wrenching issue in the cobalt mines that are produced heavily for the manufacturing of electric cars.
However, the world is changing. Investors that are led by BlackRock which is the largest investment management firm in the world, are starting to compel companies to report and track their corporate social responsibility effort and impact.
Because of the alignment of technology, investor policy, and the public, entities can solve this evolving inhumane global problem. So how can businesses exactly take actions to eliminate child labor? Here are the ways.
- The first thing is to assume child labor is being used without any blame. Only by starting with the assumptions that these inhumane practices not only prevail presently but are very likely to be utilized in your own indirect and direct suppliers with businesses determine the system, auditing, tracking technologies, and partnerships to stop it.
- There is a requirement for certifications and programs. We are already aware of the regions of the globe and industries where slavery is a consented reality. Begin by needing all suppliers, and their suppliers, to offer independent third-party-issued certification that they do not use child labor. Moreover, you need your independent auditors to portray the diversity of workers on the ground and ensure they have their own community engagement program. Then utilize the recent web crawling software to formulate a risk profile of suppliers, primarily in the supply chain hot spot.
- Next, create a SWAT team. You will have to create a specialized team within the corporate sustainability group of the country that evaluates the problems related to child labor and how to function with local communities to denote them. In a similar way that employers conduct normal vendor quality checks on the ground and also in the factories, embed members of your SWAT team side by side along with suppliers to evaluate problems and report back on scenarios.
- Closely all global businesses lead periodic in-person supply chain audits along with their immediate suppliers to authenticate that they do not use child labor. But these ‘flybys’ are infrequent and suppliers prepare in advance. It is simply not enough. To be capable of conducting a regular evaluations of vendors’ farms, factories, transportation companies, and fulfillment centers, businesses are required to raise their spending on auditing from nearly 0.1% presently to 1% of their annual profits.
- Even when businesses and corporations become cautious of violations, they can be hard to address. It took Apple over three years after it became cautious of problems to cut associations with a supplier that unutilized underaged labor as it was unable to switch to alternative suppliers. Create alternative sources for raw materials to protect against the danger of being beholden to suppliers in the places of the globe where we know children are being exploited. For example, entities have started manufacturing a synthetic alternative to sourced mica which is a naturally occurring raw element utilized in automotive and cosmetics to ensure permanence of supply without the chance of exploiting children.
Actions To Eliminate Child Labor: Guidelines By Esteemed Organizations
Companies are at times associated indirectly with child labor without them even knowing it. The UNGPs (UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights), the Tripartite Declaration of Principles concerning Multinational Enterprise and Social Policy (MNE Declaration), and the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises are internationally agreed guidelines that can aid businesses to take actions to eliminate child labor.
As per these guidelines, companies should carry out human rights due diligence in their own supply chain to prevent, identify, mitigate, and account for how they denote actual and potential adverse human rights impacts on their own functions, their supply chain, and other business relationships, which will help to handle a child and forced labor.
Entities of all sizes and from all industries can take prominent actions to eliminate child labor in their function and supply chain. Aiding apprenticeship and educational programs for the upcoming generation and joining forces with other entities to ensure sustainable progress is made will be significant in attaining impact at scale. Instances of possible actions to eliminate child labor include the following. If you are wondering how can we stop child labour in India, keep reading.
- Create management procedures for interposing child labor due diligence in business functions
- Create guidance on due diligence, monitoring, and remediation, using ideal practice from a multi-stakeholder dimension
- Confirm with industry codes, international standards, or local law — whichever offers the higher safeguard for children
- Create an apprenticeship program to decrease the rate of hazardous child labor in the 15–17 age group by providing a decent work alternative
- You can join a multi-stakeholder initiative like an “International Framework Agreement” and/or UN Global Compact Decent Work in Global Supply Chains Action Platform with one of the sectoral global unions
Children should be in school, not at work. No child should be devoid of health, safety, childhood, or education. Child labor has no place in the society we live in and entities have a responsibility to stop the practice of child labor.
But the recent time has witnessed a rise in child labor because of the prevailing pandemic. Many have lost their jobs and a great percentage of children depend on their schools for their meals. The closure of schools has forced them to get down to work. But there is always a solution to these and businesses should consider actions to eliminate child labor. There are various steps taken by government to stop child labour across the globe. On this World Day Against Child Labour, companies should pledge to take serious actions to eliminate child labor.