Investing in children's rights

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Published 16 November 2015
​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Stora Enso has been working with Save the Children since July 2014 to make children’s rights a more integrated part of our strategy and operations. Today, almost 600 Stora Enso employees worldwide have participated in related workshops or finished an e-learning course.
“Companies impact children’s lives in many ways,” says Sanna Vesikansa, Advocacy and Policy Adviser at Save the Children Finland. “It is vital that they secure the rights of those who cannot fend for themselves.”

Children’s rights are sometimes affected by companies in negative ways, child labour possibly being the most known violation. But it is only one of many considerations companies must make. Parents’ working conditions, product safety, marketing, young workers’ rights, and environmental issues also influence the lives of children. These experiences can have far-reaching impacts. If children grow up healthy and educated, they become a resource for the entire society, benefiting companies as well.

“Making children’s rights a priority can also give a competitive advantage,” says Sanna Vesikansa. “By providing fair and flexible working conditions, a company can become a very attractive employer to parents. It also makes them stay – a good balance between work and home-life is often more important than financial incentives.”

600 people trained

Save the Children and Stora Enso first started working together in the spring of 2014, following the child labour findings in our Pakistani supply chain. Save the Children has been a “critical friend”, giving honest feedback on various Stora Enso policies and making recommendations on how to improve them.

Following the policy assessments, members of executive and division management as well as employees from key functions have participated in Save the Children workshops, amounting to almost 300 people. Another 300 employees have finished a related e-learning course – that's a total of nearly 600 Stora Enso employees trained in children's rights, including personnel in our joint ventures in Asia and Latin America.

Honest talk and new ideas

The workshops and e-learning courses always highlight what children’s rights could mean for Stora Enso and for an individual employee’s work. The goal is to give a new pair of glasses to look at the world with, a new perspective to what we already know.

“So many ideas and action points have surfaced during the workshops,” says Sanna Vesikansa. “We have been very impressed with how committed the participants have been, and how the conversations have been so plentiful and honest, even critical. It says a lot about the company culture at Stora Enso.”

Working together for a child safe world

More and more companies are starting to realise the importance of protecting the most vulnerable:
“There is a lot of interest from companies in this type of work,” notes Sanna Vesikansa. “This is a great development because we believe that if enough companies make small adjustments in their operations, they can add up to vast global improvements in children’s rights.”

Stora Enso is committed to integrating children’s rights into its business and functions. Training our personnel is an important step towards making that happen.