Financial institutions in the Middle East and North Africa score best on children’s rights issues, with five out of the top ten companies being from the banking sector, according to a new report by the Global Child Forum, to be released in Dubai this Thursday.
UAE-based RAK Ceramics, the world’s largest ceramics manufacturer, the Lebanese cement manufacturer Holcim Liban and the UAE’s National Bank of Abu Dhabi were ranked joint first place in the list, which looks at how 353 publically listed companies selected from the Forbes 500 Companies in the Arab world list, address and report on children’s rights.
Children’s Rights and the Corporate Sector in the Middle East and North Africa, conducted by the Boston Consulting Group and Global Child Forum, features five regional financial institutions, including Al Ahli Bank, National Bank of Oman, Kuwait Finance House and Union National Bank. Suez Cement, one of Egypt’s largest cement producers, the Moroccan metal mining company Managem, Saudi Arabia’s Savola group and the pharmaceutical giant Glaxosmithkline also feature in the list.
The survey found that while two thirds (64 percent) of companies in the region address social responsibility in some way, just 11 percent address specific child rights issues and 42 percent donate to children’s charities. While attitudes towards corporate social responsibility are generally quite high, regional companies typically focus on the issue of child labour in the supply chain.
“The role of the Global Child Forum is to drive change towards a society where children´s rights are respected and supported by all stakeholders”, said Magdalena Kettis, Research Director, Global Child Forum. “Business must take responsibility and act good corporate citizens in all areas from product development to product marketing. We are happy to see that a fair number of companies from the MENA region are addressing children’s rights, however, more can be done”.
The companies were selected from nine industry sectors, including food & beverage, consumer goods, ICT, travel & tourism, and benchmarked across nine key indicators such as their child labour policy, performance reporting, board accountability and collaborations with children’s rights organisations.
“There is growing consensus globally that the private sector can and should play an active role in protecting children's rights, but concrete action is still low said Fredrik Vogel, Principal, Boston Consulting Group. “Our study shows that companies in the MENA region have significant improvement potential, which is positive news,” he continued.
The Global Child Forum on Middle East and North Africa will bring together over 400 regional and international decision-makers from business, finance, state, academia and civil society to discuss improvements of children’s rights as part of the global sustainability agenda. The aim of the event is to broaden the network of stakeholders working for children´s rights and also to support cross-sector partnerships and knowledge sharing in the region.