What You Don't Want to Know About Child Labor

Even though it's hard to find conclusive facts on the frequency of child labor in the developing world, there's no doubt that its commonplace in certain industries and regions. A recent Supply Chain Digest article quotes a column from Forbes noting that "every time you buy an imported handmade carpet, an embroidered pair of jeans, a beaded purse, a decorated box or a soccer ball there's a good chance you're acquiring something fashioned by a child." How do companies miss monitoring for the usage of child labor in their supplier’s facilities?

While some no doubt turn a blind shoulder to the problem, most simply don't know about it -- or avoid asking the questions that might turn up an issue. For example, while a direct supplier might not employ child labor in its primary facilities -- those which are subject to an onsite factory audit on a regular basis -- it very well might employ child labor in smaller plants or even sister companies for specialized stages of the production process. But on a more frequent basis, it's your supplier's suppliers who might be guilty of child labor infractions. And developing a monitoring program that takes into account multiple tiers of supplier practices is the only way to stop this from occurring.

- Jason Busch

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