How can business and civil society partner to support families?

This piece is written by Nadja Nickel, Managing Director of WithoutViolence. She formerly worked as a special advisor to Former Federal President Horst Köhler on the United Nations High-Level Panel on the post-2015 agenda.

This week’s launch of the Global Partnership to End Violence Against Children at United Nations headquarters lead by the Secretary General, provides actors across sectors with an opportunity to find solutions to one of today’s most pressing challenges. The Global Partnership believes that collaboration and partnerships will allow us to do together what no single government or agency can do alone, end violence against children. The private sector being one crucial actor to achieve this goal.

2.2 billion of the world’s population are children. In the OECD countries, almost half of all households have children. Many businesses already see the benefits of investing in their employees and children beyond foundational or corporate social responsibility endeavors throughout their value chain – and this they know can yield benefits for their company.

The business case for investing in families is clear. Research points to business gains in areas such as increased productivity, strengthening of the brand value, and growing revenue. Indicators suggest a company that invests in families and creates safe environments for children ensures its own standing as a business in a complex world.

Credit: Fireworx Media and Good Work

Credit: Fireworx Media and Good Work

The business case for investing in families has been discussed at different regional roundtable discussions with business, social entrepreneurs, and civil society representatives in Germany, UK, Uganda, and shared for comments in the USA, Tanzania, and Sweden noting several examples:

  • Chinese companies supporting migrant parents with flexible working hours and easier access to schooling for their children could raise employee’s concentration and commitment by about 50%.
  • Ericsson, a telecommunications company, has contributed to the development of the new Child Online Protection Guidelines and develops through a multi-stakeholder initiative practical tools to assist governments, industry and educators in keeping children safe online.
  • The HR manager of Bausch & Lomb describes the working parent who can find answers at work as one who can give more to the company, exhibits higher morale and is more likely to stay longer with the company: “By helping our work force deal more effectively with family issues, our employees will be more productive and more focused.”

“In a volatile world of growing social inequality, rising population, development challenges and climate change, the need for businesses to adapt is clear, as are the benefits and opportunities […] Our experience is that brands whose purpose and products respond to that demand […] are delivering stronger and faster growth,” said Paul Polman, CEO of Unilever.

The list goes on and on. And this is not only relevant for multinational cooperates but also for local businesses. Over and over again we heard that businesses are interested in supporting families and see the economic value of doing so already. But what was missing was knowledge of what specific programs are worthwhile their investment. By working across sectors by building bridges between family-focused agencies, such as the Global Partnership and businesses, we are able to deliver stronger results for businesses but also create decent work standards everywhere.

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