Unilever commits to help build a more equitable and inclusive society
Unilever has announced a wide-ranging set of commitments and actions to help build a more equitable and inclusive society by raising living standards across its value chain, creating opportunities through inclusivity, and preparing people for the future of work.
Unilever’s main commitments include:
Ensuring that everyone who directly provides goods and services to the company earns at least a living wage or income, by 2030
Spending €2 billion annually with suppliers owned and managed by people from under-represented groups, by 2025
Pioneering new employment models for our employees, and equipping 10m young people with essential skills to prepare them for job opportunities, by 2030
Alan Jope, Unilever CEO: “The two biggest threats that the world currently faces are climate change and social inequality. The past year has undoubtedly widened the social divide, and decisive and collective action is needed to build a society that helps to improve livelihoods, embraces diversity, nurtures talent, and offers opportunities for everyone. We believe the actions we are committing to will make Unilever a better, stronger business; ready for the huge societal changes we are experiencing today – changes that will only accelerate. Without a healthy society, there cannot be a healthy business.”
Ensuring that people earn a living wage or income is a critical step towards building a more equitable and inclusive society. It allows people to afford a decent standard of living, covering a family’s basic needs: food, water, housing, education, healthcare, transportation, clothing; and includes a provision for unexpected events. A living wage should allow workers to participate fully in their communities and help them break the cycle of poverty.
In addition, when people earn a living wage or income, there is a direct benefit to the economy, as it stimulates consumer spending, aids job creation, helps small businesses, decreases employee turnover and improves job productivity and quality – overall creating a virtuous cycle of economic growth.
Statement, Unilever: “Our ambition is to improve living standards for low-paid workers worldwide. We will therefore ensure that everyone who directly provides goods and services to Unilever earns at least a living wage or income, by 2030. We already pay our employees at least a living wage, and we want to secure the same for more people beyond our workforce, specifically focusing on the most vulnerable workers in manufacturing and agriculture. We will work with our suppliers, other businesses, governments and NGOs – through purchasing practices, collaboration and advocacy – to create systemic change and global adoption of living wage practices. In parallel, we will also help 5 million small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in our retail value chain grow their business through access to skills, finance and technology, by 2025. The SMEs we work with are often retailers who run independent stores, outlets and kiosks, or micro-entrepreneurs making sales in the streets or house-to-house. We will provide them with access to digital tools, financial inclusion and services, and public–private models that support social entrepreneurship, to help them grow their business and their income.
Unilever says in addition to improving living standards through economic inclusion, it is also critical that the company creates more opportunities for people from under-represented groups – both within and outside our organisation. Diversity in the workplace directly results in improved financial performance through its capacity to foster innovation, creativity and empathy.
Gabriela Bucher, Executive Director, Oxfam International: “Unilever’s plan shows the kind of responsible action needed from the private sector that can have a great impact on tackling inequality, and help to build a world in which everyone has the power to thrive, not just survive. We welcome Unilever’s commitments for living wages and farmer incomes in the global supply chain – an important step in the right direction – and are proud to have been a partner of Unilever as it formed this ambitious new plan. How it is implemented is also crucial. We will work alongside Unilever as it does this, helping it to deliver for under-represented groups, to accelerate their systemic changes and to shift industry practice and laws.”
Professor John Ruggie, Harvard University, Former U.N. Secretary General’s Special Representative for Business and Human Rights, member of the Unilever Sustainability Advisory Council: “The right to an adequate standard of living is a fundamental human right – sadly one that many of millions of people around the world are unable to access. Decent work, enough to adequately maintain yourself and your family not only helps people escape poverty but helps economic and social development too. So I commend Unilever for its foresighted announcement today as it continues the evolution of its social ambition, founded on the respect for human rights.”