Scope and boundaries of reporting
Average read time: 4 minutes
We are committed to reporting on our sustainability performance across our business and extended value chain.
About our sustainability reporting
Our Annual Report and Accounts is our primary sustainability report. Additional sustainability disclosure is provided in the Planet & Society Hub which is updated throughout the year.
Our reporting covers the period 1 January to 31 December 2020, unless otherwise stated.
Some Unilever operating companies around the world also produce their own country-specific sustainability reports. Please visit local websites for more information.
Our reporting is aimed at a broad range of audiences, including specialist audiences, such as investors, analysts, NGOs, governments and opinion formers. Given the growing level of interest in sustainability we also work hard to ensure that our reporting is accessible for more generalist audiences, including citizens and consumers.
Scope and boundaries
Our impacts are far-reaching, so we’ve identified and prioritised the most material issues to our business and to stakeholders across our value chain.
Our Annual Report and Accounts includes sustainability performance data for our most material issues. It covers our direct operations as well as our extended value chain where relevant – encompassing both our supply chain and, in some cases, how our products are used by consumers.
The sustainability performance data in our most recent Annual Report and Accounts, covers all Group Companies unless otherwise stated (including acquired subsidiary undertakings such as Blue Air – although in most cases there is a lag between acquisition and the inclusion of data in our reporting).
We consistently apply metrics and targets to all relevant parts of our business operations. Even where a metric and target is only relevant to part of business operations (for instance our handwashing target which focuses on markets where we sell Lifebuoy soap), it still applies to 100% of those parts, globally. A number of our targets and metrics also apply to relevant parts of our value chain, such as our greenhouse gas, water and waste footprint targets.
The majority of our manufacturing environmental and occupational safety indicators do not currently include contract/third-party production or outsourced support services. Operations and sites where we do not have management control and operations categorised as joint ventures or investments are excluded from the scope of all performance indicators, unless otherwise indicated in Unilever’s Basis of Preparation 2020 (PDF 3.31MB) (Opens in a new window).
For each metric we report, we determine the most relevant and materially impactful scope according to our knowledge of our business; the markets where we operate and the nature of the impact. We report the material coverage for our targets so that our metrics cover 100% of the scope deemed to be material, unless specifically stated otherwise in our Basis of Preparation.
In some cases, the scope deemed to be material is the same as the total scope. In others, it is less because we have applied a management judgement as to what the scope should be. Previous years’ Basis of Preparation are available in our reporting archive.
As part of our ongoing monitoring of our sustainability performance, the Unilever Leadership Executive regularly reviews progress towards our targets. Our Board’s Corporate Responsibility Committee also reviews sustainability progress.
Board oversight of our reporting
Our Board reviews and approves our Annual Report and Accounts.
Our Board’s Corporate Responsibility Committee tracks our progress on sustainability and regularly discusses key topics such as safety, plastic packaging, climate strategy and human rights.
Our Board’s Audit Committee oversees the independent assurance programme for selected sustainability metrics as part of its remit to review risk management. A number of our principal risks are related to sustainability.
Find out more about our sustainability governance here.
External reporting standards
We adhere to the principles of the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) Standards and many of the original GRI Framework indicators are embedded in our reporting.
We are a signatory to the UN Global Compact principles (Opens in a new window). We provide an annual update in our Communication on Progress on how we are living out the Compact’s ten principles on human rights, labour, environment and anti-corruption in our everyday business operations.
See reporting standards for more details.