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shutterstock_198620522When operating and buying in developing countries, companies must be well prepared for various eventualities. One of the most sensitive and extremely urgent to resolve is discovering Child Labour in a factory. Our own experience  in this matter has not been positive; with confusion, delays and extensive disagreements on the evidence discovered and actions to be taken. On two occasions in the past 6 years it became necessary to stop production and hold deliveries until the issue was resolved.

Very often company instructions are available to guide buyers and factory suppliers when a possible incident of child labour is found on the factory floor. However, like most things when these directives are more than two pages, the stakeholders are not familiar enough with the instructions. Valuable hours and days can be lost before all parties become aligned in agreeing and resolving the situation – in some cases this does not even happen if the situation drags on too long!!

The most important point when suspected Child Labour is found is to put the safety and well being of that person at the front of everything. All decisions must be made with this mind-set firmly secured.

RVA have witnessed and has been frustrated at the failure of stakeholders to get to grips with the requirements and the decisions to be made. This has been mainly due to the lack of understanding on how the situation should be handled and processed. To address this, Robert Vernon Associates have produced a one page Process Flow chart to handle a possible Child Labour report. It is based on various existing company instructions and our own experience in capturing all actions and decisions to be made; providing work colleague and suppliers a simple guide to know and understand beforehand what to do, or if an incident does happen then a tool to use and guide everybody in a transparent and efficient way.

We hope below is useful for any international sourcing and factory operations to adapt and utilise. We also hope it proves the power of flow charting as a communications tool. Please do not hesitate to contact us if you require further details and assistance in developing robust international sourcing tools and guidelines. The example below is just one part of our Good Business Growth operational tools package.