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Independent assurance

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Assurance helps us to drive continuous improvement in performance and in the quality of our data.

Our approach to assurance

We need accurate and robust data on our sustainability performance to help us make decisions, monitor performance and report progress to our stakeholders. Third-party assurance is a key part of our approach to ensure the rigour of our reporting. Our assurance plan is approved by the Board’s Audit Committee each year.

External assurance in 2021

For the 2021 reporting period, we reappointed PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP (PwC) to provide independent assurance for the tenth consecutive year. PwC’s assurance engagement was in accordance with ISAE 3000 and they applied the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England & Wales (ICAEW) Code of Ethics.

PwC’s scope was to provide limited assurance of our Environmental and Occupational Safety performance measures and selected Compass pillar commitments: Climate action and Positive nutrition.

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Independent Assurance and Basis of Preparation

Unilever’s Basis of Preparation 2021 (PDF 4.1MB) contains a full description of all performance measures subject to external assurance in the reporting period – including the definitions, scope and data preparation and assumptions. See also PwC’s Independent Limited Assurance Report 2021 (PDF 380KB).

The environmental performance indicators assured were chosen because they reflect the main environmental aspects for our manufacturing sites, including utilities consumption, and waste, air and water pollution. Occupational safety indicators were chosen because safety at work is an important priority for our business.

Ensuring rigorous reporting

Beyond third-party assurance, we have a number of processes to ensure that the information we report is accurate and provides a fair representation of our sustainability performance.

We established a Metrics Team to provide strategic oversight of our sustainability metrics and to ensure the rigour of our measurement practices. The Metrics Team includes representatives from Finance and Sustainability.

As well as setting principles for the development and governance of sustainability metrics, the Metrics Team ensures every metric has a metric owner who is a senior expert in the subject. The metric owner is responsible for understanding the activity underlying the metric (such as handwashing practices or greenhouse gas reduction) and its measurement and calculation.

Each metric is supported by a Basis of Preparation which provides an explanation of how the data is collected and calculated and any assumptions made to ensure a consistent approach year-on-year. Our Reporting Archive contains historical Basis of Preparation.

Progress against the sustainability metrics underlying our Compass commitments is tracked internally on a quarterly basis. At the end of the year, we use a centralised data collection tool to collect data that we intend to report publicly. The tool has been configured to ensure data accuracy, such as electronic validation and algorithms to prevent double counting.

In addition to assurance of selected performance measures, our Finance team validates the data against the Basis of Preparation using evidence provided by metric owners to ensure that the data is accurate and calculated in a consistent way compared to the previous year.