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
Gender Equality

Gender Equality

According to McKinsey, as much as $28 trillion could be added to the global GDP by 2025 by advancing women’s equality. However, based on current trends, the World Economic Forum predicts that it will take 217 years for the workplace gender gap to close. Addressing gender equality is a moral and economic imperative. For Unilever, gender equality delivers tangible business benefits by widening the pool of experience and expertise across our supply chain and in our workforce. Most of the people who buy our products are women, making this critical to our future growth.

Our brands are seizing the opportunity through education (see also SDG4) and programmes creating opportunities for women. Dove, one of Unilever’s biggest brands which grew at 6% in 2017, has reached around 29 million young people since 2004 through its body confidence and self-esteem educational programmes. As well as raising awareness about body confidence, our data reveals that awareness of the programmes, such as the Dove Self-Esteem Project, correlates with higher intent to purchase our products.

We are also taking action within our business on gender equality. Forty-seven per cent of our management are now women and our Framework for Fair Compensation is helping to ensure equal pay for equal work.

Across our distribution network and supply chain, we are supporting small-scale retailers and smallholder farmers – many of whom are women – to extend our reach and secure supplies of vital agricultural raw materials, through programmes such as Shakti and Kabisig Summits which are designed to unlock potential by enabling women to boost their incomes.

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 2018 we continued to make 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
61% of procurement spend through suppliers meeting mandatory requirements of our responsible sourcing policy
We continued to work on our fair compensation framework which includes our commitment to a living wage
65,000 employees across 84 countries enrolled in our Lamplighter health programme
0.69 per million. Safety performance improved to 0.69 accidents per million hours worked (Total recordable frequency rate)
1.85 million women enabled to access initiatives aiming to promote safety, develop skills and expand opportunities
49% of managers are female
We enabled access to initiatives aiming to improve agricultural practices or increase incomes for:
746,000 smallholder farmers
1.73 million small-scale retailers
Key:
Achieved
On-plan
Off-plan
% 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 5.5 million small-scale retailers.

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 has been independently assured by PwC. See Unilever’s Basis of Preparation for the description of activities.

During 2017 and 2018 we amended how we assessed compliance with the Responsible Sourcing Policy, hence year-on-year data is not comparable.

ж Around 490,000 women accessed initiatives under both the Inclusive Business and the Opportunities for Women pillars in 2018.

^ In 2018 our total includes women enrolled on programmes providing virtual or remote training, see Unilever’s Basis of Preparation for details.

Enhancing livelihoods pillars

Fairness in the workplace

Worker on production line

We're taking action on human rights, fair compensation 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.

Inclusive business

Inclusive business pillar

We’re committed to improving the livelihoods of smallholder farmers and supporting small-scale retailers.

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