The global community have made strides in eliminating child labour but there is still a significant amount of work to do. Between 2000 and 2016, there was a 38% decrease in child labour globally. However, there are still 152 million children across the world who are in child labour. The goal remains to end child labour by 2025 and end forced labour, human trafficking, and modern slavery by 2030. Ethical Partners aim to use our investor voice throughout 2021 to help bring awareness of this important issue to ASX listed companies.
152 million children around the globe work because their survival depends on it. It may be because their parents don’t have access to work or because national education and social protection systems are weak. Sometimes it is a result of ingrained customs or even because adults take advantage of children’s vulnerability. Child labour robs children of their childhood, their potential and their dignity. For 1 in 10 children, this is a daily reality.
In order to promote the ending of child labour in ASX companies and contribute to wider corporate and societal advocacy about the issue, Ethical Partners Funds Management will research and engage with key organisations by the end of 2021. We expect to learn the state of understanding and action on child labour in ASX companies, and to demonstrate best practices with the intent of thus influencing ASX listed companies to address these risks.
While there is a slowly improving understanding and disclosure from companies around modern slavery, human rights risks and their supply chain, we believe that there is a real need to bring child labour and child rights to the forefront of this discussion. Australian companies need to look more deeply at their supply chains to firstly, understand the key child rights issues and secondly, review, disclose and then remediate any child labour identified in their supply chain.
We do acknowledge that the complexity of supply chains, particularly in the fashion and agriculture supply chains, where the majority of child exploitation occurs. Tackling child labour is further complicated by the fact it is a symptom of larger problems. Where there is extreme poverty, there are children willing to work cheaply.
Our ultimate aim is to draw attention to this issue across the ASX and that ASX companies will be spurred on through this transparency, and our engagement and advocacy to change their processes and procedure to benefit the lives of more children.
The tragic human rights situation currently unfolding in Myanmar holds particular significance to our Sustainability Analyst Georgina. Please read Georgie’s poignant thoughts on her visit to the camp, our expectations on our portfolio companies in regard to Myanmar, and why Ethical Partners has recently signed on to the Investor Statement on Human Rights and Business Activities in Myanmar.
As members of the Investor Group on Climate Change, Ethical Partners Funds Management strongly endorses its new roadmap released today in conjunction with the CDP and the Principles for Responsible Investment. It is entitled: "Confusion to clarity: A plan for mandatory TCFD-aligned disclosure in Australia".
During May 2021 the Fund returned 1.56% versus the S&P/ASX 300 Accumulation Index of 2.31%, underperforming the market by -0.75%. An underweight position in IT and an overweight position in Westpac contributed to relative performance while an overweight position in Consumer Staples and an underweight position in CBA detracted from relative performance.