World News

Nordic companies fall short on transparency over child rights

LONDON (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Nordic companies, highly dependent on supply chains in Asia, lag behind international standards in guaranteeing children’s rights, according to a report by an international rights group.

The study of 300 of the Nordic region’s largest companies by Global Child Forum found companies scored below the global average on a combination of issues including child labour, charitable initiatives for children, and accountability.

“Nordic countries are small, open economies that are highly dependent on supply chain operations, especially in Southeast Asia where child labour is a concern,” Global Child Forum said in a statement on Monday.

Fiona Rotberg, research director at the rights group, said despite the reputation of the Nordic region’s companies for innovation and social responsibility, the majority of companies fell short in policies to combat child labour.

Only 10 percent of the companies reported that their board took responsibility for children’s rights issues.

The report said major Nordic IT companies such as Telenor, Tele2, and Telia Company stood out for initiatives that address children’s rights issues such as online bullying. Electricals producer Clas Ohlson, clothing retailer H&M, and engineering firm Trelleborg scored highly across the board.

“They have become leaders as a result of increased awareness, increased pressure within the industry,” Rotberg told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

But companies in healthcare, financial services, food, travel, and oil industries scored far lower.

Across all companies surveyed, three out of four have a policy banning child labour but only 17 percent of companies report the results of these policies.