Corporate social responsibility

Positive change for children

Silvina Barreto (Middle), is attending preschool at Si-Rui Suco Laubonu, Ermera Municipality, Timor-Leste.

Changing business behaviour

For UNICEF, ‘corporate social responsibility’ refers to efforts to positively change business behaviour and practices as they affect children. This is done in collaboration with a range of stakeholders, including companies, government, civil society, children and young people. 

Businesses have significant impacts, both positive and negative, on children’s rights. They make important contributions to the well-being of children by creating jobs and livelihoods for families, as well as in the form of philanthropic initiatives. At the same time, violations of children’s rights by companies can threaten children’s protection, survival and development.

A girl enjoys playing in the playground at Srae Tahen primary school, Cambodia

Promoting change for children

By adopting and promoting corporate social responsibility (CSR) with a focus on children’s rights, UNICEF is supporting companies, governments and civil society in their efforts to prevent and address the negative impacts of business, while accelerating the positive impacts on children’s lives in the workplace, the marketplace and the community. 

We do this through three interrelated work areas: 

  1. strategic corporate partnerships 
  2. policy, advocacy and communication 
  3. programme implementation. 

UNICEF’s work on CSR is grounded in delivering results for the most disadvantaged children. It represents a unique opportunity to work together with the private sector – through addressing core business practices and leveraging corporate knowledge, skills and networks – to address the challenges facing disadvantaged children.

Laticia, 20 days old, sleeps on the couch at her home in Batu, Indonesia
UNICEF/UN0148831/van Oorsouw

Contributing to child rights

We believe that CSR can make a valuable contribution to children’s rights because: 

  • Companies interact with children on a daily basis. Children are workers in factories and fields, consumers of products, family members of employees, and live in neighbourhoods where businesses operate. 
  • Business impacts a wide range of children’s rights. In the past, corporate responsibility towards children has often focused on preventing and eliminating child labour, or on philanthropic investments. But companies also affect children through products and services, marketing methods, relationships with local and national governments, and investments in local communities. 
  • Companies have a responsibility to comply with national law and respect international standards on children’s rights. While governments have a duty to protect children against violations, companies have a responsibility to respect children’s rights throughout their activities and relationships. 
  • Business can act as a champion for children’s rights through core business activities, strategic social investments and philanthropy, advocacy and public policy engagement. Companies can work in partnership with, and exercise influence over, governments, peers, suppliers and other business relationships as part of promoting children’s rights. 

UNICEF has an important role in raising awareness of how business affects children, and in working with both government and business to promote the responsibility to protect, respect and support children’s rights in the workplace, marketplace and community. 

Our CSR work is part of UNICEF’s efforts to develop and maintain innovative partnerships and collaborative relationships, with the goal of promoting equity, reducing disparities and expanding services for the most vulnerable and marginalized children.