Unilever Vouches to Become More Inclusive

LONDON — Unilever is aiming to make its value chain more inclusive, with a set of goals for 2030, unveiled today.

The beauty giant will be looking to raise the living standards of all workers in its value chain and invest in suppliers “owned or managed by people from underrepresented groups.” It’s also vowing to invest in the new generation by upskilling young employees and offering new employment models.

“The two biggest threats the world currently faces are climate change and social inequality. The past year has undoubtedly widened the social divide, and decisive and collective action is needed,” said Unilever chief executive officer Alan Hope.

“We believe the actions we are committing to will make Unilever a better, stronger business; ready for the huge societal changes we are experiencing today — changes that will only accelerate. Without a healthy society, there cannot be a healthy business,” he added.

By 2030, the company wants to ensure that anyone providing direct services to Unilever will be earning a living wage, as a first step to breaking the cycle of poverty and empowering low-paid workers to afford a better lifestyle and fully participate in their communities.

According to the company, people who are directly employed by Unilever are already paid “at least living wage” but the aim is to extend this commitment to workers in manufacturing and agriculture. Small businesses within its value chain will also receive support, through financing and access to new technology and skills.

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The company’s aim is to help five million small or medium-sized enterprises by 2025.

There is also a new equity, diversity and inclusion strategy to ensure the company’s culture and hiring practices are free of biases.

“We are proud to have already achieved gender balance across our management globally, but there is more work to do — for women, and for other people,” said the company in a statement.

Part of its commitment to diversity includes a 2 billion euro investment with “diverse suppliers” managed by underrepresented groups and a widening of the groups of people participating in Unilever advertising, “both on screen and behind the camera.”

To stay up to date with the future of work and new generations, the company is committing to upskill and re-skill current employees by 2025; provide more flexible employment methods by 2030, and help up to 10 million young people beyond the organization with training and upskilling, so that they are equipped to take on the job market.

“Unilever’s plan shows the kind of responsible action needed from the private sector that can have a great impact on tackling inequality,” said Gabriela Bucher, executive director of Oxfam International.

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