Sarah Ng, Manager, Corporate Communications, ICTI Ethical Toy Program
The International Labor Organization (ILO) shares that the United Nations (UN) has declared 2021 as the International Year for the Elimination of Children Labour.
The announcement also introduced Alliance 8.7, an inclusive global partnership committed to achieving Target 8.7 of the 2023 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). According to the alliance, 22 countries and 240 partners are collaborating to focus on the immediate and effective measures to eradicate forced labor, end modern slavery and human trafficking, and secure the prohibition and elimination of the worst forms of child labor, including recruitment and use of children soldiers, and by 2025 end child labor in all its forms.
With the support of global legislation such as the Modern Slavery Acts from the United Kingdom and Australia, as well as the California Transparency Act, global awareness of modern slavery is growing.
Source: Alliance 8.7
However, the recent news from the United Nations highlighted ' For the first time in two decades, the number of children being put to work has risen – to 160 million worldwide, representing an increase of 8.4 million over four years – while millions of others are at risk due to the COVID-19 pandemic', according to a new UN report launched on Thursday (10th June, 2021).
Join forces against child labor and advance sustainability issues in the supply chain
IETP believes that the toy business should be a good business, we are created by the toy industry for the industry to promote ethical manufacturing standards and sustainable working conditions for manufacturing workers at every tier of the supply chain, as well as support businesses to realize their ESG (Environment, Social, and Governance) objectives. Over 1,500 brands, retailers, and licensors, as well as more than 1,000 manufacturers located all around the globe have joined our highly engaged responsible sourcing community.
IETP has nearly 2 decades of experience working on the ground, supporting businesses to eliminate child labor and all other forms of modern slavery. We recommend 4 essentials steps for businesses to join forces with the ILO and their partners:
- Supply Chain Mapping and Initial Risk Assessment – Responsible Sourcing in supply chains is vital to your business. This is a critical first step to drive transparency, so you know who your suppliers are and where your products come from. Identify the risk levels of each source country via available resources such as the Global Slavery Index or the Child Labor Index.
- Monitor and manage risks – According to the level of risk measured, allocate them under different levels of monitoring programs. Suppliers from high-risk countries should go through a full monitoring program, comprehensive assessments combined with on-site audits or visits like the Factory Certification Program we operate would help identify unauthorized sub-contracting or other serious gaps between your goals. Also, for countries that are lower risk, remote assessment such as the Social Impact Assessment Program would help to recognize if a business partner has an effective management system to protect the human rights of all personnel with their influence and control.
- Manage non-compliances – Identify sustainability issues that are zero tolerance, critical, major, or minor to your company; adopt responsible sourcing standards or a robust audit checklist that has risk criticality grading for you to understand the severity of issues. Take immediate action to address zero tolerances such as bribery, child labor, or forced labor. Ensure all violations are provided with remedies and corrective action plans. Follow up to ensure issues are rectified within a given timeframe and prevent non-compliances from recurring.
- Engagement and capability building – Education is the key to success, share your responsible sourcing strategy, objectives and the reasons why it is important internally, and with your business partners. For example, engage the buying teams and suppliers to increase awareness and understanding of child labor risks in your supply chain, educate them on related legislation around the world, and the positive impacts that supporting eradication efforts would bring to your business and the communities where you operate. Also, empower them with tools and ways to avoid the issue from happening, such as a Responsible Recruitment Guidance and Responsible Purchasing Practice Guidance for COVID-19.
Businesses have a key role to play in the eradication of child labor, you can start today by using the tools and services IETP provide: https://www.ethicaltoyprogram.org/en/brands-and-retailers/