ICA is the leading grocery retailer in Sweden and one of the biggest actors in the Baltic states. ICA also works with sourcing and sales of non-food items. The company is one of the co-founders of the WeSupport project together with CCR CSR – Save the Children’s implementing partner in China and South East Asia.

In 2014 ICA joined Disney, HP and Clas Ohlson to found the WeSupport project together with CCR CSR. WeSupport is a combined training and networking platform that was created to respond to the needs of workers and to minimize potential risks to factory operations. WeSupport aims to engage management and workers through in-factory trainings and innovative tool development to assist in child labour prevention and remediation, to engage young workers, to strengthen management and to offer parental guidance to migrant parents.

Maria Smith is director of Environment and Social Responsibility at ICA, and is clear about what drives the company to work with children’s rights:

“Since we are a big actor in the Swedish and Baltic markets we have a big responsibility, but also the possibility and ability, to make a change in these markets. It is also about meeting the customers’ expectations – Swedish customers especially are very aware of sustainability issues and push companies to act and to take responsibility.” 

“If you are about to start working on children’s rights issues, do it with an organisation like CCR CSR or even together with other companies. It is actually not a competitive issue; it is about doing better together.” 

Children’s Rights and Business Principles

Working with children’s rights might sound like a very complex issue, but Maria Smith sees the implementation of the framework as a step-by-step journey and emphasises how important the CRBP was for ICA to make the process easier and more structured:

“The Children’s Rights and Business Principles have helped us a lot. We made a gap analysis using the CRBP and mapped that against our own operations in order to find out what we were already doing for children and what we could do better. We identified that we hadn’t really pointed out children as an important stakeholder for us. It was really a good thing to discover and now we are putting a child’s perspective on the things we are doing in a better way.”

“The framework might seem complicated, but when you start working with it you’ll see that it is good, practical and gives you advice on how to tackle bigger and more complicated issues as well.”