Public policy engagement

We strive to be trusted members of society wherever we operate, working transparently with governments and other partners to fulfil our responsibilities and achieve our goals.

Our approach

Our Code of Business Principles guides all aspects of our conduct internally and with external parties. It commits us to obey the laws of the countries in which we operate and, more broadly, to behave with honesty, integrity and openness, and with respect for the human rights and interests of our employees and other stakeholders. In line with our Code, we do not support political parties or fund groups that promote party interests.

External relationships

We encourage our companies to engage with local governments and other organisations to help inform public policy. This is done both directly and through bodies such as trade associations. We take part in multi-stakeholder debates and when relevant respond to public consultations. We also engage with organisations that are critical of our actions and seek to understand and address their concerns.

With products on sale in more than 180 countries, we have many hundreds of separate memberships and dialogues at national level. We list some of our principal memberships of business associations at EU and international level in the Engaging with stakeholders.

In Europe, Unilever has subscribed to the Code of Conduct for Public Affairs Professionals as developed by the Society for European Affairs Professionals. We have also expressed our support for the European Transparency Initiative and are now listed in the European Transparency Register, which enables anyone to obtain information on our interests and funding.

Combating counterfeiting

Counterfeiting is a global issue which affects all sectors and industries around the globe. It can pose serious health and safety risks to consumers, damage the reputation of our brands and is a serious threat to global trade. We have established a global strategy to address this growing problem. We contribute to international industry alliances (such as the TransAtlantic Business Dialogue, the International Chamber of Commerce/BASCAP and the International Trademark Association). Through this, we aim to engage governments and a broader spectrum of stakeholders to take serious action such as better intellectual property protection and enforcement as well as improving consumer awareness.

Chemicals in products

The EU REACH regulation has entered into force. Unilever has supported this regulation since its inception in 2002 and is contributing to its successful implementation, working with others in the industry.

Unilever is also working with other stakeholders to promote the implementation in Europe of the United Nations' global harmonised system (GHS) for classification and labelling of chemicals.

We believe that both these systems can help promote consumer confidence in chemicals. REACH helps ensure safety through a system of rigorous assessments and GHS provides a framework that can be used for communicating with consumers on chemical content, enabling them to feel safe.

Both must work together to form a strong framework that will give consumers the confidence to use products safely and in an environmentally sustainable manner.

The United Nations Global Compact

As a signatory of the United Nations Global Compact, Unilever is committed to living out the Compact's ten principles on human rights, labour, environment and anti-corruption in our everyday business operations.

Our own Code of Business Principles has long reflected the Compact's goals. We provide an annual update in our Communication on Progress explaining how we are living out the Compact’s principles across our business.