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Placing children first in business

September 18, 2012

Unicef is making a call to Malaysian business to respect and support children’s rights.

KUALA LUMPUR: Unicef and the Malaysian network of the UN Global Compact (UNGC) have joined together to call on the country’s business community to place children’s rights at the top of their corporate responsibility agenda.

The launch of the landmark Children’s Rights and Business Principles (CRBP) sees Malaysia as the first country in South East Asia to introduce the principles to the country’s business leaders.

Unicef representative to Malaysia, Wivina Belmonte highlighted that businesses can strengthen their existing corporate responsibility initiatives while ensuring benefits for their business when they integrate respect and support for children’s rights into their strategies and operations.

“The business case for a more child focused approach to CSR is clear. By focusing on children and supporting their rights, businesses are creating a more stable and sustainable future, new and expanding markets for products and services, educating their next workforce, influencing tomorrow’s consumers and enhancing their brand and reputation,” said Belmonte.

“Added to this overwhelming business case is a moral one. Child focused CSR is the right thing to do — the right thing to do ethically, a good thing for children, as well as being a smart investment for business.”

Comprehensive framework

Developed by the UN Global Compact, Unicef and Save the Children, the CRBP is the first comprehensive set of principles to guide companies and businesses on the full range of actions they may take in the workplace, marketplace and community to respect and support children’s rights.

So far, the CRBP have been launched in 16 countries across the globe, and Malaysia, as a progressive nation, is in a prime position to push for the betterment of the lives of children with support from the vast number of businesses in the private sector.

The CRBP provides businesses with a framework to uphold children’s rights through their policy commitments, due diligence and measures for change according to a set of guidelines.

The 10 Principles cover a wide range of key issues – from child labour to marketing and advertising practices to the role of business in aiding children affected by emergencies.

Child-friendly policies and practices indicate good corporate governance and better risk management, and supports enhanced brand value, increases employee satisfaction, drives consumer loyalty and contributes to more sustainable value creation in the long term.”

“Business can play an important role to protect children’s wellbeing and advance child rights in a fulfilling and enriching way through CSR that goes beyond philanthropy,” said president of Global Compact Network Malaysia Tan Lin Lah.

“The launch of the CRBP in Malaysia underscores the importance of the Principles and its applicability to businesses of all genres and sizes. The launch also reflects Malaysia’s business maturity and growing focus on corporate responsibility as part of business practice.”

Child-friendly business principles

Industry leaders were also invited to speak at the event to promote child-friendly business principles as part of corporate sustainability and governance.

The luncheon, supported by the Companies Commission of Malaysia, was attended by some 60 guests representing small-to-medium-sized businesses (SMEs), public-listed companies (PLCs), government-linked companies (GLCs), privately-held corporations as well as government and the diplomatic corps.

“We strongly believe in the power of partnerships and we have been working with the corporate sector globally for many years. In Malaysia, Unicef has collaborated with SSM since 2008 to produce two circulars for SMEs on child-focused initiatives such as childcare centres and a nursing mother’s program at the workplace,” added Belmonte.


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