Enhancing livelihoods

Unilever's work on enhancing livelihoods supports

7 of the UN Sustainable Development Goals

Select one of the goals to find out how we're taking action in support of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

Find out how we’re realising the business opportunity from the SDGs
No Poverty

No Poverty

While the global poverty rate has halved since 2000, 800 million people worldwide continue to live below the international poverty line of $1.90 a day. Building the incomes and economic resilience of people living in extreme poverty will underpin the success of all the SDGs – and play a key part in unlocking the estimated $12 trillion in market opportunities that entails. We know that our future success relies on growing economies and a widening consumer base. There is simply no business case for the alternative: enduring poverty.

Our products are sold in more than 190 countries, generating income and employment for retailers and distributors who bring our brands to consumers. We have an opportunity to increase millions of people's economic opportunities and enhance their livelihoods while strengthening our own sales and supply networks.

Our USLP targets is to positively impact the lives of 5.5 million people by improving the livelihoods of smallholder farmers who supply major brands such as Lipton, Wall's, Magnum and Ben & Jerry's, improving the incomes of small-scale retailers and increasing the participation of young entrepreneurs in our value chain.

Inclusive distribution models – including Shakti in India and our retailer training programmes such as Kabisig in the Philippines – are designed to unlock potential by enabling women, in particular, to boost their incomes while increasing the reach of our sales networks and supporting our growth.

At the same time, we're committed to ensuring our employees receive a living wage and all workers in our supply chain are paid a fair wage.

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Our Big Goal Enhancing livelihoods for millions
By 2020 we will enhance the livelihoods of millions of people as we grow our business.

Enhancing livelihoods

Our performance

In 2017 we made steady progress across the three pillars of our Enhancing Livelihoods goal – Fairness in the Workplace, Opportunities for Women and Inclusive Business.

8. We continued to embed human rights focusing on the 8 salient issues in our human rights report
55% of procurement spend through suppliers meeting mandatory requirements of our responsible sourcing policy
We rolled out our fair compensation framework which includes our commitment to a living wage
75,000 employees across 74 countries enrolled in our Lamplighter health programme
0.89 per million. Safety performance improved to 0.89 accidents per million hours worked (Total recordable frequency rate)
1.3 million women enabled to access initiatives aiming to promote safety, develop skills and expand opportunities
47% of managers were female
We enabled access to initiatives aiming to improve agricultural practices or increase incomes for:
716,000 smallholder farmers
1.6 million small-scale retailers
% Of target achieved

Our approach

Our business contributes to the economic livelihoods of many people and communities across our value chain. In developing and emerging markets, we have an even greater impact. Our supplier and distribution networks involve millions of smallholder farmers, distributors and retailers, many of whom are women.

We want to deliver both business growth and positive social impact. We are embedding human rights across our business and are using the power of our brands to advocate important social issues to our consumers.

Three pillars of our Plan support our big goal to enhance livelihoods for millions. These commitments are fundamental to the way we aspire to do business and support our continued growth.

Our approach, which directly supports a number of the UN Sustainable Development Goals, focuses on:

  • Driving fairness in the workplace – by implementing the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights throughout our operations, and working with suppliers who commit to promote fundamental human rights
  • Advancing opportunities for women – empowering 5 million women by advancing opportunities for women in our operations, promoting safety, providing up-skilling and expanding opportunities in our retail value chain. And challenging the harmful gender norms that can hold women back
  • Developing an inclusive business – by improving the livelihoods of 500,000 smallholder farmers and the incomes of 5 million small-scale retailers, and by increasing the participation of young entrepreneurs in our value chain.

In order to achieve these commitments, we need to work in our own operations, through our extended supply chain and our distribution channels. We want to see fairness in the workplace, opportunities for women and inclusive business as standard in the business world and aim to work in partnership to create wider movement in the industry.

Independently assured by PwC

††The description of the implementation activities for human rights in 2017 and the series of activities to create the Framework for Fair Compensation have been independently assured by PwC. See Unilever’s Basis of Preparation (PDF | 6MB) for the description of activities.

* In 2017 we amended the way we assess compliance with the RSP, hence prior years’ numbers are not comparable.

t The number of women enabled to access initiatives aiming to promote their safety, develop their skills or expand their opportunities in 2017 was 1,259,000 which has been independently assured by PwC.

Ж Around 370,000 women have accessed initiatives under both the Opportunities for Women and Inclusive Business pillars in 2017 .

Enhancing livelihoods pillars

Fairness in the workplace

Worker on production line

We're taking action on human rights, fair compensation, improving employee development, and health and safety, to ensure the well-being of all who work with us.

Opportunities for women

Women working at Unilever

We aim to challenge harmful gender norms and empower women by working with our brands, value chain and partners across industry and society. We’re advancing diversity, promoting safety for women and enhancing skills.

Inclusive business

Inclusive business pillar

We're committed to improving the livelihoods of smallholder farmers, supporting small-scale retailers, and helping young entrepreneurs.

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