In recent years, major U.S. corporations have assured ethical labor practices within their supply chains through private social compliance audits. However, a revealing investigation by The New York Times exposes that an $80 billion industry that hinges on these inspections overlooks an important variable: child labor.
“Missed” or ignored
Hannah Dreier of The Times exposes a troubling pattern from audits by several major firms. Auditors consistently missed child labor violations in 20 production facilities linked to renowned brands such as Skittles, Starburst, McDonald’s, and Gerber. Auditors’ findings were often limited by time and scope during inspections. An auditor would typically start their inspection in the morning and stay until midday, missing critical late shifts where child labor violations are rampant. Even if an auditor had stayed later in the day, they may not have been able to speak privately with a migrant child worker, who, in many cases, requires an interpreter, which auditing firms rarely provide.