Society features

How we will help build a more equitable and inclusive society

Unilever has a long history of driving social change, from improving the health and wellbeing of over a billion people to improving the livelihoods of millions as part of our Plan for a sustainable lifestyle.

We are proud of these accomplishments. But we are also acutely aware that we need to do more, as the social challenges people are currently facing have grown even worse.

In 2019, for example, more than 630 million workers worldwide – almost one in five of all wage earners – did not earn enough to lift themselves and their families out of poverty.

That’s why we’re announcing an ambitious set of commitments and actions to help build a more equitable and inclusive society. These include:

  • Ensure that everyone who directly provides goods and services to us is earning at least a living wage or income by 2030.
  • Spend €2 billion per year on suppliers owned and managed by people from underrepresented groups, by 2025.
  • Help 5 million small and medium enterprises grow through access to skills, finance and technology, by 2025.
  • Increase the number of diverse people involved in the production of our advertisements, both on screen and behind the camera.
  • Ensure our employees are reskilled or upskilled by 2025 and have access to flexible employment options by 2030.
  • Equip 10 million young people with essential skills to prepare them for job opportunities, by 2030.

“The two biggest threats facing the world today are climate change and social inequality,” says Alan Jope, CEO of Unilever. “The past year has undoubtedly widened the social divide, and decisive and collective action is needed to build a society that helps improve livelihoods, embraces diversity, nurtures talent and provides opportunity for everyone.”

Raising the standard of living

Ensuring that people earn a living wage is an essential step towards building a more equitable and inclusive society. It enables people to afford a decent standard of living, covering their basic needs such as food, housing and health care.

We already pay our employees at least a living wage. Now we want to ensure the same for more people beyond our workforce, focusing specifically on the most vulnerable workers in manufacturing and agriculture. We will work with our suppliers, other companies, governments and NGOs to create system-wide change and encourage the global adoption of living wage practices.

As Gabriela Bucher, Executive Director of Oxfam International, said: “Unilever’s plan shows the kind of responsible action needed from the private sector that can have a big impact on tackling inequality and helping to build a world in which everyone has the power to thrive, not just survive.

At the same time, we will help 5 million small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in our value chain to access skills, finance and technology to grow their business and their incomes. The SMEs we work with are often retailers who operate independent stores, outlets and kiosks, or micro-entrepreneurs who sell on the street or door-to-door.

Creating opportunities through inclusivity

Unilever has long been a strong advocate for greater diversity and inclusion. We are proud to have achieved gender balance in our leadership globally, but there is still work to be done – for women and also for other underrepresented groups. These include people with disabilities, people from LGBTQI+ communities, and underrepresented racial and ethnic groups.

We will adopt progressive policies and practices that eliminate bias and discrimination to create an equitable culture for all. To begin, we will remove barriers and biases in recruitment and hold our leaders accountable for helping employees excel. Beyond our own operations, by 2025 we will spend €2 billion a year with SMEs owned and managed by people from diverse and underrepresented communities, helping them access skills, funding and networking opportunities.

We’ll also address the lack of representation of these audiences in our ads. In particular, we will use the strength of our brands to help combat the prevalence of stereotypes that are often perpetuated by advertising and promote a more inclusive portrayal of people.

Preparing people for the future of work

As we help build a more equitable and inclusive society, we recognize that changes in the world of work will affect the employment prospects of many people. Many of today’s ways of working – roles, places, times and skills – are changing rapidly.

We will therefore ensure that all our employees have the right set of skills for the future, by 2025, to help them pursue their careers, whether within or outside Unilever. We will also launch new employment models by 2030 that will allow people to choose how they want to work. These could include flexible contracts that retain full-time benefits, or time off to study or retrain.

Beyond our organization, we will help equip 10 million young people with essential skills to prepare them for job opportunities, by 2030. For example, we are working with partners on LevelUp – a youth employability platform. young people – which will provide a one-stop-shop for young people to discover their purpose and access training, volunteering and work experience opportunities.

“As disruptions to labor markets and education systems continue, the need to redouble efforts in reskilling and upskilling initiatives is clear,” said Saadia Zahidi, Managing Director of the World Economic Forum. “Unilever’s latest commitment is precisely the kind of ambitious initiative needed to tackle job cuts and prepare workers for tomorrow’s labor markets.”

A healthy society for a healthy business

Inclusion is at the heart of the global sustainable development agenda, whose central ambition is to “leave no one behind”. Thus, the development of diversity and inclusion within and beyond our company supports a series of United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

It’s been in our DNA since Unilever was founded over a century ago. And that’s integral to our strategy today: contributing to a fairer, more inclusive world with brands that uphold human rights, uphold equality, and distribute value fairly.

We’re proud of the positive impact we’ve had over the years, but we have so much more to do. That’s why we’re setting out these bold new commitments to raise the standard of living for people in our company and across our value chain, especially those who are currently underrepresented.

As Alan Jope says: “We believe that the actions we take will make Unilever a better and stronger company, ready for the huge societal changes we are experiencing today – changes that will only accelerate. . Without a healthy society, there can be no healthy business.

Decisive and collective action is needed to build a society that fosters cohesion, embraces diversity, nurtures talent, provides opportunity for everyone and helps improve livelihoods.

Alan Jope, CEO of Unilever