About our reporting
We are committed to reporting a transparent account of our progress each year.
Our online reporting details performance against our USLP targets for the period 1 January to 31 December 2015 (except where indicated otherwise). It also covers a wealth of information on our approach to running a responsible business.
Since April 2014, our annual Sustainable Living Report has been published online in the Sustainable Living section of our website. We have not produced a separate annual printed and pdf Unilever Sustainable Living Plan Progress Report as we did in April 2013 and April 2012. This is because we found that a single document could not meet the multiplicity of stakeholder needs.
However, to give our stakeholders a high-level introduction to our vision and strategy, we produced a summary document, Mobilising Collective Action: Summary of progress 2015 (PDF | 9MB). Several Unilever companies around the world also produce their own country reports describing their actions in support of the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan.
In March 2014 Unilever issued a £250 million, four-and-a-half year Green Sustainability Bond, inviting investors to support our vision for sustainable growth while investing in Unilever credit. We have provided an overview of our Green Sustainability Bond activities covering the period from the issuance of the bond on 26 March 2014 to 31 December 2015 in Independent Assurance. Progress of the Green Sustainability Bond projects has been independently assured by DNV GL – see Downloads to read the DNV GL assurance statement, which also lists the relevant environmental criteria.
Who are the audiences for our reporting?
Our reports are aimed at a broad range of audiences, including employees, customers, consumers, suppliers, investors, governments and opinion formers in the fields of sustainability and business responsibility.
How do we define our material issues?
Understanding our sustainability impacts and priorities enables us to address the sustainability issues that matter most to our business strategy and to our stakeholders. It also allows us to tailor our reporting so it is aligned with audiences’ interests and needs. See Defining our materiality process for further information.
Inclusivity & responsiveness of our reporting
To ensure ‘inclusivity’ we take into account our impacts on society and the concerns of stakeholders. To do this requires an extensive understanding of our impacts across the value chain; detailed mapping and tracking of issues; ongoing stakeholder input and feedback; and the help of partners to guide our direction.
Issues are often complex and we continue to work on those areas where we do not yet have a comprehensive understanding of our impacts. For example, we have piloted, and are in the process of refining our smallholder livelihoods assessment tool. This helps to measure our impact on the livelihoods of smallholder farmers. As a consumer-focused company, ‘responsiveness’ is built into our everyday approach to understanding and responding to our consumers’ aspirations and concerns.
Stakeholder feedback on our reporting
As part of our reporting process, we get feedback from our Unilever Sustainable Living Plan Steering Team, our Board’s Corporate Responsibility Committee and the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan Council of external advisers, as well as our employees and specialist opinion formers.
From 2012 to 2015 we ran a series of global dialogues on our performance against our Unilever Sustainable Living Plan targets. Events took place in London, and other cities around the world. Through these events we invited feedback from our stakeholders as well as ideas, insights and opportunities for collaboration.
Please tell us what you think about our Plan and our progress in 2015 via Contact us – we value your feedback.
External standards & indices
In compiling our reports, we review external standards such as the Global Reporting Initiative Guidelines and AccountAbility’s AA1000 Assurance Standard’s (2008). Our 2015 Sustainable Living Report was prepared in accordance with the core option of GRI G4 Reporting Guidelines and Food Processing Sector Supplement.
We are a signatory to the UN Global Compact principles. 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. We also report on our sustainability governance and leadership, including ways in which we support broader UN goals.
For over a decade, we reported on our contributions to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which set out eight global targets for governments to reach by 2015, ranging from halving world poverty to halting the spread of HIV/AIDS. We contributed to these goals through the wealth and jobs we create in our business, our value chain and through our partnerships.
Collectively, businesses and governments have made good progress through the MDGs, but there is more to be done. In 2014 we coordinated the development of a Post-2015 Business Manifesto (PDF | 2MB) (PDF | 2MB), which has been endorsed by more than 20 leading international companies. In September 2015, Paul Polman, joined by a number of other executives, attended the UN's Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) summit in New York. At the Summit, world governments came together to launch a new set of goals. The 17 Global Goals set out clear commitments to tackle poverty, inequality and climate change by 2030.
Within our own activities we have identified where Unilever has the biggest potential to contribute to the Global Goals, given the nature and scale of our business, and how this will add value to our business. The SDGs set out a positive vision for the future, but it will need collective action to get there. It is in the interest of business, government and civil society alike to accelerate progress towards this vision.
Boundaries & scope
In our sustainability reporting we aim to cover our economic, social and environmental impacts. Our impacts are far reaching, so we have identified and prioritised our most material impacts to the business and to stakeholders across our value chain. See how we are Defining our material issues. Our report includes performance data for our direct operations and information on how we are managing the most material issues across our extended value chain, which encompasses both our supply chain and how our products reach our consumers.
Our performance indicators, such as our manufacturing environmental and occupational safety indicators, do not include contract production or outsourced support services.
Our online Unilever Sustainable Living Report for 2015 covers Unilever’s global value chain for the 2015 reporting period. Data is provided for Unilever’s wholly owned companies and subsidiaries. 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 2014.
Assurance & basis of preparation
External assurance of sustainability performance indicators is an important part of our approach and our environmental reporting has been independently assured since 1996. Our social report was assured for the first time in 2004.
In 2015 we reappointed PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP (PwC) to provide independent assurance of the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan (USLP) and Environmental and Occupational Safety (EOS) performance indicators. PwC’s Assurance Report describes the work undertaken and their conclusion for the reporting period to 31 December 2015. Documents relating to independent external assurance in the years prior to 2015 are available in our Reports & Publications section.
Please see Independent assurance for further information about our assurance process.
In 2015, Unilever was again named the leader of the Food, Beverage & Tobacco Industry Group in the Dow Jones Sustainability Index (DJSI).
Unilever was awarded the top position with a 74% score in the latest Oxfam Behind the Brands Scorecard, published in April 2016. The campaign assesses and rates agricultural sourcing policies of the world’s ten largest food and beverage companies.
The Transparency Benchmark, annual research carried out on the content and quality of corporate social responsibility reports of Dutch companies, scored Unilever in 3rd position in 2015.
In 2015, CDP recognised Unilever as a world leader for corporate action on climate change for the eleventh consecutive year. We achieved the maximum Disclosure score of 100, up from 99 in 2014. CDP changed the scoring methodology for its Forests information request that provided deforestation-risk related information to investors. Unilever was placed in the Food and Beverage Processing sector, and achieved leadership on three commodities: Timber, Cattle Products and Soy.
See Awards & Recognition for further information.