The US department of labour has estimated that two million children carry out hazardous work on cocoa farms in Ghana and the Ivory Coast. The topic is more relevant than ever in light of the partial COVID-19 lockdown in the Ivory Coast which saw a sharp rise in child labour. The child labour plague has been long under the spotlight of international bodies, foundations, and standard setters. Nevertheless, the cocoa industry remains still dogged in controversy amid allegations of child labour and slavery, despite promises to eradicate it in 2001.
Our research examines the issues of child labour, forced child labour and unsustainable farming practices within the chocolate industry, with a specific focus on the discourse about Nestlé’s Ivory Coast cocoa supply chain.
Despite introducing sustainability programs, Nestlé and several other international companies continue to source cocoa from the Ivory Coast. Will they keep their promises to eradicate the worst forms of child labour, including slavery? Only time will tell, but after two decades the problems persist.
Dr Cristiana Bernardi is a Lecturer in Accounting at the Open University Business School and the Co- Director for the sustainable future strand of the Centre for Public Understanding of Finance, Institutions and Networks (PUFIN). Her main research interest lies primarily within the area of financial reporting, particularly in the information content of mandatory and voluntary disclosures concerning non-financial performance. In this regard, she has specific interests in current developments in integrated reporting, corporate social responsibility reporting, and climate change risk disclosures.
Dr John Dumay is a Professor of Accounting and Finance and a member of the Centre for Public Understanding of Finance, Institutions and Networks (PUFIN). Formerly a consultant, he joined academia after completing his PhD in 2008. His thesis won the European Fund for Management Development and Emerald Journals Outstanding Doctoral Research Award for Knowledge Management. John researches intellectual capital, knowledge management, accounting, corporate reporting and disclosure, research methodologies, and academic writing. In 2020 John reached more than 10,000 Google Scholar citations from over 120 peer-reviewed articles, book chapters, and books. The Australian newspaper also recognises John as Australia’s leading Accounting scholar. He is an Associate Editor of the highly regarded Accounting, Auditing and Accountability Journal, Meditari Accountancy Research, and Deputy Editor Accounting & Finance.