Our sustainability governance

Strong governance structures and clear lines of accountability enable us to deliver the commitments in our Unilever Sustainable Living Plan (USLP). We also draw on insights from external experts to challenge our thinking.

People writing in a meeting

Management structures

Our commitment to sustainable living is embedded into our business agenda through our purpose, vision, business model and Unilever Sustainable Living Plan (USLP).

Our management structures for sustainable business are integrated into our organisational framework. Key elements include:

Board level - governance and oversight

The Board of Unilever PLC

  • The Board has the ultimate responsibility for the management, general affairs, direction, performance and long-term success of Unilever. The Board comprises Non-Executive Directors and Unilever Leadership Executive members Alan Jope (CEO) and Graeme Pitkethly (Chief Financial Officer)

Corporate Responsibility Committee

  • Committee of Non-Executive Directors which oversees Unilever’s conduct as a responsible business, sustainability and corporate reputation
  • Monitors the progress – and potential risk – of the USLP and reports back on this to the Board
  • Marc Engel, ULE member and Chief Supply Chain Officer, and Rebecca Marmot, Chief Sustainability Officer, attend each meeting

Audit Committee

  • Committee of Non-Executive Directors which oversees Unilever's approach to risk management, including the corporate risks and related mitigation/response plans
  • Reviews significant breaches of the Code of Business Principles as part of its remit to review risk management
  • Oversees the independent assurance programme for the USLP
  • Graeme Pitkethly, our Chief Financial Officer and Lysanne Gray, Executive Vice President Financial Control, Risk Management, Pensions & Sustainability, attend each meeting
Unilever Leadership Executive (ULE) - operational leadership of the business
  • The ULE, led by our Chief Executive Officer (Alan Jope), is responsible for managing profit and loss and delivering growth. It monitors implementation and delivery of the USLP
  • In 2019, we integrated the management of sustainability issues into the ULE, our highest operational leadership group. The ULE agenda now incorporates the agenda of our former USLP Steering Team (which comprised 11 members of our 12-member ULE plus representatives from our global Sustainability and Finance teams). The ULE meets monthly
Division and function leadership - strategic development of our goals

Division Presidents: Foods and Refreshment (Hanneke Faber), Beauty & Personal Care (Sunny Jain) and Home Care (Peter Ter Kulve)

  • The leaders of our Divisions are members of ULE. Our Divisional leadership and brand teams are responsible for the strategic development of our sustainability goals
  • They work in conjunction with our function leaders (for example our Chief Supply Chain Officer or our Chief R&D Officer) and our Sustainability team

Executive Vice President, Business Transformation (Harm Goossens)

  • Leads the integration of sustainability into our business and communications, working with our functions, divisions, brands and country teams to unlock capacity for business growth
  • Reports to our CEO and works alongside our Chief Operating Officer (who leads on delivering growth and developing capabilities across our markets) 

Chief Sustainability Officer (Rebecca Marmot)

  • Leads our sustainability agenda to drive transformational change across markets through advocacy and partnerships and to define innovative social business models for sustainable growth
Unilever operating companies - responsible for implementation

Our operating companies

  • Following the strategies of our divisions and functions, and assisted by our Sustainability team, our local companies bring our sustainability goals to life as they drive growth across the business

To ensure alignment between the different elements of our governance structure, our Chief Sustainability Officer attends the Corporate Responsibility Committee and chairs our Unilever Sustainability Advisory Council (see External insights below).

Specialist input and cross-team networks

We have a number of specialist groups in the business who provide input in key areas and incorporate external advice from a variety of sources. Examples include:

Sustainability Team (Divisions)

Transforming our brands into purposeful brands and facilitating the emergence of sustainable innovation. Headed by Karen Hamilton, our Vice President, Sustainable Business – Divisions, this team works with our Divisional teams, R&D, Supply Chain and Marketing to embed sustainability into market development programmes and open up opportunities for business growth

Energy Board

Drives delivery of our carbon positive ambition at corporate and country level and leads strategic partnerships and policy on renewables. Chaired by our Chief Supply Chain Officer, Marc Engel

Water Board

Steers our strategy and targets on water, focusing on driving water-smart innovations for business growth. Chaired by our Home Care Category President, Peter Ter Kulve

Sustainable Packaging Committee

Steers our strategy and targets on sustainable packaging, understanding stakeholder concerns and bringing in new technologies and partnerships. Chaired by our Chief R&D Officer, Richard Slater

Sustainable Sourcing Steering Group

Supports our strategy by promoting sustainable supply chains, focusing on long-term, sustainable access to Unilever's key crops. Chaired by David Ingram, our Chief Procurement Officer

USLP Metrics Team

A group of senior business leaders providing oversight and governance of changes to USLP metrics including scope, definitions and calculation methodologies. Chaired by Lysanne Gray, our Executive Vice President Financial Control, Risk Management, Pensions & Sustainability. See About our reporting

Safety & Environmental Assurance Centre (SEAC)

Provides independent scientific evidence and guidance to identify and manage risks relating to product safety and supply chain technology as well as environmental impacts associated with our brands, products and supply chain. SEAC’s expertise in lifecycle assessment has been used to develop our environmental metrics and approach to measuring our baseline performance in greenhouse gases, water and waste. See Independent assurance and our metrics

Global Code & Policy Committee

Chaired by our Chief Legal Officer, Ritva Sotamaa, and supported by our Chief Business Integrity Officer, Kim Morgan-Verlaque. Oversees the implementation of the Code of Business Principles

External insights

Our strategy benefits from insights and challenge from external stakeholders on an ongoing basis through our day-to-day business operations, partnerships and broader engagement.

In addition, we seek independent insights and counsel from external stakeholders, for example the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan Advisory Council.

Unilever Sustainability Advisory Council

Chaired by our Chief Sustainability Officer, Rebecca Marmot, the Unilever Sustainability Advisory Council comprises seven independent external specialists in sustainability who guide and critique the development of our strategy:

  • Kate Hampton, Children's Investment Fund Foundation
  • Katja Iversen, Women Deliver
  • Bill McDonough, McDonough Innovation
  • Ricken Patel, Avaaz 
  • Jonathon Porritt, Forum for the Future
  • Kavita Prakash Mani
  • Professor John Ruggie, Harvard Kennedy School of Government.

Similarly, the role of our Sustainable Sourcing Advisory Board is to provide independent advice and judgement and to strengthen policy-making within Unilever. It comprises seven experts from not-for-profit organisations, impact investors, companies and academia. See Our approach to sustainable sourcing.