Helping our people drive sustainable growth

Our Unilever Sustainable Living Plan helps attract the best talent to work with us – and is a source of pride and inspiration for our employees.

Developing a team fit for growth

Sustainable, profitable growth can only be achieved if the right people are working in an organisation that is fit to win, underpinned by a culture in which performance is always aligned with values. We are increasingly an agile, flexible and diverse business with people who are motivated by doing good whilst doing well. 

We are building capability and leadership amongst our people and are attracting some of the best talent in the marketplace. 76% of Unilever employees worldwide agree that their job contributes to the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan and drives sustainable growth.

Promoting sustainability

We have sustainability champions covering every key function, category and country. They help our leadership teams to select the priority areas to focus on in order to drive sustainable growth. They also help to review progress quarterly against targets. We link progress on sustainable business goals to reward through the remuneration of a growing number of managers, including the CEO and several members of the Unilever Leadership Executive. 

Our vision of creating a sustainable business is motivating for employees but it is not always clear how they can apply it in practice in their roles. So we integrate sustainability into existing training and have created bespoke training too. For example, new brand managers engage in a week-long sustainable marketing challenge during their Foundation course. 

A continuing challenge for the future is to build our understanding and capability on sustainability. Over 13,000 people have completed a Unilever Sustainable Living Plan e-module. 

In support of the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan we are increasing the number of learning resources that are delivered virtually or on demand. This helps reduce the need for travel. In late June last year we launched the Learning Hub which hosts all of Unilever’s learning content in one place.

In 2016, we are introducing new learning resources which make the most of social media and mobile technology to deliver training whenever and wherever our learners need it. We have identified 6 key Business Skills that will help us grow our business, including ‘Bringing Sustainability to Life’ and are launching new content throughout this year aligned to these. 

Many of our employees have sustainable business ideas of their own, so our manufacturing team has set up ‘Small Actions Big Difference’ to help make them happen. The €15 million fund encourages our employees to develop their ideas. In 2014, we invested almost €4 million in 70 of the best water projects proposed. These are expected to deliver a reduction of over 1 million m³ of water abstracted by manufacturing sites globally and achieve an average payback of less than two years.

First anniversary of our Sustainable Living Lab

In 2013, we developed an online knowledge hub called the Sustainable Living Lab (SLL). This provides tools to help managers across Unilever to apply sustainability insights to their brand. It also includes a collaboration space to share ideas and seek advice from experts, and a daily news on the latest brand and business activities. 

In 2014, 2,000 people used our Lab and we reached 200 brand developers through workshops on integrating SLL content in communications. A further 700 of our marketeers took part in webcasts on how a strong brand sustainability ambition drives a ‘Brilliant Brand Experience’. 

In addition, through our regular Global Project Leader (GPL) leadership courses, we host a business game simulation. This challenges project leaders to use the tools available on our Lab to understand the value of sustainable growth in innovation. The course has been welcomed with 4.4 out of 5 on feedback scores. At our ‘HP4’ director course for our future vice presidents, we also run sustainability simulations.

brightFuture: how employees are creating a movement for sustainable growth

Every day, Unilever employees put our purpose into practice: they make sustainable living commonplace. Our ambition to achieve sustainable growth depends on their passion and commitment, and if we are to succeed, sustainability must be more than a business model – it must be a movement, with employees at its heart.

A pioneering ambition like ours requires an innovative approach to employee engagement. We know our Unilever Sustainable Living Plan helps attract the best talent to work with us – and is a source of pride and inspiration to employees. We want to find new ways to ensure we’re harnessing that passion and empowering employees to achieve real change.

brightFuture is our movement for sustainable growth. It’s an employee engagement programme aimed at giving employees the information, motivation, and confidence to build sustainable living into every aspect of their daily lives.

Throughout the year, we create opportunities for our people to experience what sustainable growth means and looks like in practice through our brands. They then become advocates for our way of doing business and are confident speaking to friends and family about how we’re creating a brighter future.

brightFuture employee engagement activities such as our Dove Self Esteem Project and Lifebuoy’s Help a child reach 5 programme inspire our people everywhere to believe in a brighter future and a world full of possibilities where everyone lives well and within the means of our planet.

Key 2015 facts

Unilever was named the most sought-after FMCG employer in the world and the fifth most sought-after employer across all sectors according to a survey by LinkedIn.

This year

In 2016, we are:

  • Continuing to deepen employee’s understanding of how sustainability drives growth.
  • Bringing the Sustainable Development Goals to life and creating a brighter future through our Sustainable Living Brands and their USLP ambitions.
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