Misconception: The toy industry is so focused on reducing costs that it is willing to use factories that mistreat their workers. Fact: The worldwide toy industry is an acknowledged leader in ensuring that workers in its suppliers' factories are treated fairly. The International Council of Toy Industries' (ICTI) Code of Business Practices, one of the first such codes in the world, obligates its members to treat workers fairly. Through its ICTI CARE Process, a comprehensive system has been developed to ensure that factories adhere to the standards established by the Code.
In the past three years, nearly 1,200 factories employing over a million workers have entered the program. Its Seal of Compliance, issued to factories who have achieved those standards, are accepted by just about all of the major toy retailers in the U.S. There is still much to do, as this is a long journey that brings retailers, brands, civil society and government together. For now, we must continue to monitor and audit all factories in the system, but our primary objective is to build capacity through education programs. Our stated goal is one global standard for the ethical manufacturing of children's products.
An important point about the U.S. toy industry's safety standards--they are voluntary, for the most part, but are the best in the world, widely emulated by other countries. By the time the U.S. Toy Industry Association's Conformity Assessment program is in full operation next year, the U.S. will also have the best safety testing standards and procedures in the world.
My final thought is this: Why shouldn't there be one worldwide set of safety standards and safety testing procedures? That way, all countries would adhere to one proven standard, so that we could assure parents everywhere that the toys they give to their children are safe. If I could have one wish granted, it would be this one: that all children have safe toys to play with--no matter where they live.