Between 1994 and 1997, three documentaries screened by German and Swedish television accused IKEA — the home furnishing multinational — of using child labour under degrading conditions in Pakistan, India, Vietnam and the Philippines. Since then, IKEA was involved in several other child labour allegations featured in international media and high-profile research papers.
To address the issue, IKEA reinforced its due diligence efforts, including announced site visits of all suppliers and subcontractors in South Asia. IKEA also updated its supplier code of conduct, ‘The IKEA Way of Preventing Child Labour’ (later merged into IWAY), according to which all suppliers are required to maintain a registry of all workers and to include their date of birth.
In addition, IKEA and its non-profit arm IKEA Foundation have partnered with UNICEF and Save the Children to implement several on-the-ground projects that aim to tackle the root causes of child labour, including improving the quality of schools and making them more inclusive for all children, as well as projects focused on maternal and child healthcare and child protection. IKEA estimates that through joint campaigns with UNICEF and Save the Children, millions of children in over 45 countries across sub-Saharan Africa, Asia and Europe have enjoyed better educational opportunities.
In April 2021, IKEA made a new pledge to accelerate its efforts to strengthen child rights and remove child labour from the company’s supply chain in support of the International Year for the Elimination of Child Labour. The IKEA action pledge aims to strengthen efforts on child rights with three key focus areas:
- Further integrating children’s rights into the existing IKEA due diligence system
- Accelerating the work to promote decent work for young workers
- Partnering up to increase and scale efforts (including joining the ILO Child Labour Platform)