Stockholm (NordSIP) – On 16 December, NordSIP tuned in to the official launch of Global Benchmark Data, The State of Children’s Rights and Business 2021. Stockholm-based Global Child Forum (GCF), in collaboration with Boston Consulting Group (BCG), has been benchmarking companies since 2013 on a range of issues related to how corporates address children’s rights. This year’s edition is somewhat special, however. In 2020, GCF joined the World Benchmarking Alliance and, at the same time, decided to adopt the SDG2000 as a base universe. The methodology, too, has been fine-tuned, making an adjustment in the 2019 scores necessary in order to arrive at a more meaningful comparison.
Looking back at the development of the benchmark, Andreas Lundmark, Managing Director & Partner at BCG, emphasises the continuous improvement that he has witnessed. “Ten years ago, corporates’ response was disappointingly low,” he recalls. More and more companies today find the survey questions relevant and are on the path of integrating children’s rights issues in their corporate culture. According to him, the study itself has improved significantly, including more topics and parameters in a systematic and consistent manner.
Presenting the main conclusions of the data collected during 2021, Nina Vollmer, Research Manager at GCF, is also happy to highlight a modest improvement since 2019 indicated by the benchmark: from a total score of 5,1 to 5,4. Most of the 832 companies surveyed globally also score above five on a scale from zero to ten. “Only nine per cent of all the companies, however, can be classified as leaders on children’s rights,” adds Vollmer.
A closer look at company scores within the Community & Environment impact area also reveals that, while many companies have environmental policies, there is a weak understanding of the impact of those policies on children. “It is time to break the silos between climate and social impact,” says Vollmer. “By taking children’s needs and perspectives as the starting point for what they do to mitigate their environmental and climate impact, companies have the opportunity to create a truly sustainable strategy for the future of their operations as well as the planet,” she adds.
Vollmer has some specific advice to share with companies that are serious about children’s rights. “Get to know your impact on children, interact with them as with any other important stakeholder and share your progress with others,” she urges, providing some useful links to tools and additional information.
A company that already seems to heed this advice is Norsk Hydro. Åsne Burgess, the company’s Social Responsibility Manager shares her experience of improving children’s conditions and collaborating with GCF. “With the help of the benchmark and with GCF’s expertise, we’ve built a holistic, strategic program for children’s rights,” she says. “Through actions for improvement and a governance system to drive the actions, we aim to create more awareness in the organisation and strengthen our efforts to support children’s rights. It is an iterative process as there are always new ways to improve, which the benchmark helps illuminate,” concludes Burgess.
Dyveke Rogan, Senior Analyst in the Corporate Governance Department at Norges Bank Investment Management (NBIM), provides valuable insights from an asset manager’s perspective. “Children’s rights have been a priority ESG effort for us at least since 2008,” she says. At NBIM, integrating this issue in the investment analysis is viewed as an opportunity to address systematic ESG risks. It also supports the asset manager’s ambitions as an active owner. “We need data to know which companies in our portfolio are the most exposed to children-related risks and which issues we need to engage with them on,” says Rogan. “The wide set of data provided by GCF’s benchmark is, therefore, very much appreciated. It helps us also to track the progress in a systematic way,” she adds.
Filippa Bergin, Head of Research and Development at GCF, concludes the launch event by peeking into the organisation’s focus for the coming year. In 2022, an additional 132 global Technology & Telecom companies will be assessed by her team, she reveals. Stay tuned.