In the mid-1990s IKEA and many other companies became aware of children’s rights issues and widespread child labour in South Asia. This was the starting point for IKEA’s fight against child labour in the supply chain. As a first measure, IKEA worked with Save the Children to devise a child labour code of conduct, “The IKEA Way to Prevent Child Labour,” which states that all actions taken shall be in the best interests of the child.
Monitoring of compliance at IKEA suppliers was then complemented by its commitment to the communities beyond the factory gates. This was when, in 2005, the IKEA Social Initiative was created to work in partnership with UNICEF and Save the Children to promote the rights of every child to a healthy, secure childhood and access to quality education.
What started as the company’s commitment to children’s rights in its supply chain then turned into a greater commitment “to create a better everyday life for the many” children across the globe.
IKEA has implemented serious measures to ensure that its suppliers comply with its code of conduct. When suppliers are found to be using child labour, a corrective plan is required to be submitted. If the supplier refuses to implement corrective plans within the agreed timeframe, the company terminates all business activities with the supplier.
The IKEA Social Initiative with UNICEF and Save the Children invests in a range of programmes that have adopted a holistic approach to creating substantial and lasting change in the lives of children and women—improving their health, enabling access to quality education for children, and empowering women to create a better future for themselves and their communities.
Women’s economic empowerment in Uttar Pradesh, India (UNDP)
This cooperation with the UN Development Programme has enhanced the social, economic, and political empowerment of women in the 500 villages in Uttar Pradesh, India, where IKEA Social Initiative and UNICEF have been present since 2000. At least 50,000 women (22,000 of them from self-help groups set up in the previous UNICEF children’s rights programme) have received training to become entrepreneurs and village leaders. They have access to advanced literacy and financial skills and leadership training, which provide them with the skills needed to become key decision-makers in institutions of their local community.
(excerpt from EMG research document)