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Partner with Purpose

Women carrying baskets through tea fields

Welcome to the future of partnerships

Unilever’s Partner with Purpose (UPWP) programme, which launched in 2020, is taking purpose-led partnerships to a whole new level to fuel industry-leading innovations, protect and regenerate nature and make sustainable living commonplace.

UPWP is an evolution in the way we partner that allows us to continually respond to new and emerging consumer trends. We are getting even closer to our partners through this programme by encouraging more responsible and transparent innovation to deliver on our ambitious commitments and generate mutual growth together.

To celebrate our first full year of working together with our partners under our UPWP programme, we hosted the Unilever Partner with Purpose Connect and Awards Ceremony on 15th March 2022.

Check out the event highlights video.

Our growth ecosystem

We are building a new partner ecosystem to create opportunities for all. We welcome partners of all sizes - from small start-ups to global multinationals – to collaborate with us, either on a one-to-one basis, or as part of a multi-partner partnership. Whatever the dynamic, we expect all our partners to share our sense of purpose and willingness to drive mutual growth and competitiveness whilst being a force for good for people and the planet. Together, we can and must do both. Our UPWP programme is designed to deliver against Unilever’s three Compass beliefs: Brands with purpose grow, People with purpose thrive and Companies with purpose last.

Brands with purpose grow

We’re committed to innovating responsibly and transparently. Together with our partners, we create and deliver solutions to help us meet the ambitious sustainability commitments outlined in our Positive Beauty, Clean Future, and Force for Good divisional strategies.

For example, it’s thanks to our partnership with specialty chemicals company, Evonik, that our Chilean Home Care brand, Quix, was able to launch the world’s first household cleaning product containing a 100% renewable and biodegradable foaming ingredient, known as Rhamnolipid. Read more about our purpose-led collaboration.

Image of Quiz bottle and leaves

People with purpose thrive

We collaborate with transparency and trust. Using real-time data and collaborative platforms, we provide a transparent end to end partner experience that promotes a true partnership mindset. By working with partners who are aligned with our values, we can ensure the major commodities we rely on are produced sustainably for mainstream consumer markets. Similarly, achieving complete cost transparency helps us to ensure our competitive position in every market we operate in.

For example, our partnership with Viridor, a recycling, resource and waste management company in the UK, allows us to bring extra PCR capacity to the UK to meet our plastics goals. Together with our local resource management consultant, Nextek, the three of us worked to develop detectable black plastic packaging for Unilever’s TRESemmé and Lynx brands, allowing for previously undetectable black plastics to be picked-up by recycling plant scanners. The innovation means that around a further 2,500 tonnes of plastic bottles could now potentially be sorted and sent for recycling each year.

Companies with purpose last

We rely on our partners to promote speed and simplicity in how we work. Unilever’s segmented portfolio allows us to quickly adapt to new channel landscapes and customer needs, creating joint value with our partners.

We aim to support our partners’ growth potential by building capacity in emerging markets and some of the world’s fastest growing regions, looking for joint opportunities to drive efficiency of supply, invest in cutting-edge technology, leverage innovation and foster continuous development of new capabilities.

Unilever Partner Promises programme

Partner Promise Climate logo

In August 2021, we launched our Partner Promises programme, an initiative designed to further align our suppliers to our Compass ambitions and encourage them to begin their own sustainability journeys so that, together, we can scale and accelerate our successes.

Through our first two promises - The Supplier Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Promise and the Living Wage/Living Income Promise - Unilever is inviting supply partners to demonstrate their shared values and commitment to addressing social inequality in our value chains by encouraging partners to commit to a set of actions that will tangibly promote equality and inclusion in their own value chains. Through our Climate Promise, we encourage suppliers to measure, reduce and report on emissions in their own value chains as we seek to achieve net-zero emissions across our value chain by 2039.

Unilever Partner with Purpose Awards

As part of the Unilever Partner with Purpose launch in December 2020, we launched the UPWP Awards.

Through our Compass strategy, we want to drive positive change, but we cannot achieve our Climate, Nature, and Social ambitions alone. In celebrating our partners, we acknowledge them as visionaries, innovators, and changemakers who are aligned with our purpose and goals.


Growing together with integrity: RSPFirst

We want to work with partners who share our purpose and values. Our Responsible Sourcing Policy (RSP) embodies our commitment to conduct business with integrity, openness and respect for universal human rights and sets out the standards we expect of all our partners.

Unilever’s Responsible Sourcing Policy sets out our 12 Fundamental Principles and defines the mandatory requirements that partners must achieve to do business with us.

The RSP also gives guidance and tips on how partners can progress towards industry-leading practices. We expect our partners to work with us and to make progress over time, moving from mandatory requirements towards good and best practices.

Agreeing to the terms of the RSP is a pre-requisite for any partner wanting to do business with us.

In June 2021, we launched our RSPFirst programme to ensure every single one of our suppliers is committed to the terms of the RSP. Any new supplier that has not formally agreed to the requirements of the RSP can not be onboarded into our systems. We have the same expectation for existing suppliers and, over the course of 2021, we will begin a process that prevents the issue of new purchase orders for suppliers not compliant with the requirements of the RSP, where no action has been taken to resolve the issue.

Any supplier that has not yet committed to the RSP, or is in any way unsure of their RSP status, is encouraged to get in touch with their Procurement contact quickly.

Find out more about the RSP principles, or download the policy in full (PDF 8.25MB).