We continuously review and develop our approach to successfully address the most relevant risks to children and act where we, as a business, have the biggest impact. We recognise that it requires continuous effort to reach our ambition of integrating children's rights into everything we do.
Prevent child labour and support young workers
IKEA does not accept child labour. Children have the right to their childhood, and we take action to protect this right. However, the current situation of child labour is concerning. Around 160 million children worldwide are still in child labour, and sadly recent estimates show that the trend has reversed, and numbers have increased for the first time in two decades.
The IKEA business has a long history of working to tackle the issue of child labour, dating back to the late 90s when we established IWAY, the IKEA way of responsibly procuring products, services, materials and components. We promptly investigate and follow up on any suspected cases of child labour and keep challenging ourselves and our suppliers to do even better and to focus resources where they will make the most difference. In FY21, there were no suspected or confirmed cases of child labour identified in our direct suppliers.
Whilst we work actively to prevent and tackle the issue of child labour, we also recognise the opportunity we must positively impact young people who are engaged in work - young workers. This group is in many parts of the world, lacking access to education and decent working opportunities in formal work and instead falling into informal work and hazardous work situations. IKEA is committed to providing and promoting learning and working opportunities for young people and tackling the exclusion this group faces. One successful example is from Southeast Asia, where we have initiated a programme offering some 100 young workers mentored employment at our suppliers.
One of the three key focus areas in the action pledge is accelerating efforts to strengthen children's rights in the IKEA supply chain, which IKEA submitted in 2021. We are now planning to scale up the programme to other countries. We are also looking at how to further strengthen the inclusion of young workers in the IKEA supply chain more systematically and continuously, including providing decent work and learning opportunities.
Protect and side with children
We recognise our responsibility to ensure that all children who interact with the IKEA business, directly or indirectly, are safe and protected. Through our range and products, IKEA is committed to promoting children's right to play.
To side with children means to involve and listen to children all over the world actively. One of our priorities is exploring how we can bring the voice of children and young people even more into the IKEA business. All children have the right to express their opinions and views in matters that concern them. We believe that the voices of children and young people should be heard, both inside IKEA and in society at large, and we are playing a part in promoting their right to actively participate – for instance, we involve children in the process of product development to ensure that we heard their inputs and ideas, etc.
To integrate children's rights into our business also means that we need to understand and address how our marketing and communication impact children. We aim to guide and empower all relevant co-workers to be capable of applying a children's rights perspective in our marketing and communication. During 2020 and 2021, we developed and launched an IKEA guideline on how to responsibly portray and address children and are now working on training material to support the execution.
Meanwhile, we continue to explore how we can strengthen policies and practices to ensure that IKEA offers a family-friendly workplace. These are some of the recent steps we have taken to strengthen our children's rights approach in our value chain.
Inspire and enable children to develop
Play is a critical part of every child's development. It contributes directly to health and wellbeing, cognitive development, self-esteem, and skills building. But around the world children are spending less and less time playing.
We believe children are the experts in telling us what they like and what they need. By having children participating in our product development and other work processes, we strive to learn from their needs, dreams, opinions, and ideas. Therefore, we actively involve children in focus groups through our interactive Kids Labs and our online think-tank – the Kids Panel.
We also want to promote children's right to play and act beyond our operations together with others. In 2018, IKEA founded the Real Play Coalition with Unilever, the LEGO Foundation and others. The ambition is to create a movement that prioritises the importance of play as something that not only lets children be children but also sparks the fire for a child's development and learning. The Coalition aims to raise awareness of the importance of play, to increase opportunities for play in schools and cities, and to examine the impact of play on the cognitive development and socioeconomic status of children around the world.
Engage and work with others to realise children's rights
Beyond the work we do to integrate children's rights into our operations, we also want to help influence change for children and advocate for their rights together with other actors. We take an active role in promoting children's rights through partnerships and other engagements. Only by raising our voice together with other actors - suppliers, customers, governments, NGOs, and others - can we achieve sustainable, long-term improvement for children. We want to be a positive force and inspiration as we work towards our ambition to always act in children's best interests.