Over the last year, IKEA has also been working on child safeguarding to ensure that children, who come in contact with the IKEA businesses, are protected and safe. Children often get in touch with IKEA through events in stores, in product development and testing as well as suppliers, home-visits at customers’ residence, etc.
“This leaves us with a great responsibility to ensure we do everything we can to prevent any risks to children and that we have strong processes in place should any child be harmed as a result of interacting with the IKEA business,” says Alinde.
Why is IKEA focusing on children’s rights?
“It has very much to do with who we are as a business, our identity, values, and the fact that we care for children. And that’s what sits behind our commitment to respect children’s rights. In addition, we also have a clear expectation placed on us as a business. The Children’s Rights and Business Principles provides an international standard of expected business conduct. So, there’s a more formal expectation that we are also responding to in driving our child rights agenda.”
Are IKEA operations 100% child labour free?
“Our starting point is of course that we do not accept child labour. Children have the right to their childhood, to access education and to develop and thrive and IKEA acts to ensure we do everything we can to protect these rights. At the same time, no company of our size and with global supply chains, can be 100 per cent certain. If you claim that, then you haven’t understood the complexities of child labour. Because child labour is often an effect of other issues in society, it could be poverty, the lack of access to education, or the lack of access to decent work for parents.
This week ILO and UNICEF released new global estimates on child labour, sadly showing a reverse trend and increase child labour to 160 million children. This is alarming news that calls for urgent actions from us as businesses as well as other actors of society.
Tackling child labour requires continuous efforts and systematic work that is also preventative. When risk factors connected to child labour, such as economic situation in a country or political instabilities arise, then our system needs to be alert to address the potential risks to children as well as other stakeholder groups.”
What is the biggest challenge when it comes to integrating children’s rights?
“Our commitment is that we will integrate children’s rights into everything that we do. It’s a very holistic approach. But when it comes to ‘what’ and ‘how we go about it’, we still have a long way to go. We have set an ambitious roadmap ahead, but we need to continuously look at the different parts of our operations and understand what integrating children’s rights mean. As our business, and the contexts that we operate in continue to develop, so does the need to adapt and strengthen our approach to children’s rights. It requires that we apply the perspective in all parts of the business over and over again.”