HUL enhancing livelihoods for millions
At Hindustan Unilever, we are driven by our purpose of making sustainable living commonplace. An important expression of this purpose is Unilever’s long-standing commitment to improving livelihoods, enhancing access to training and skills, and raising living standards.
Evolving business needs, as well as the growing ambitions of the increasingly connected youth, has brought the focus back on providing the right opportunities for talent across the country.
The livelihood challenge
Globally, Unilever has laid down a wide-ranging set of actions and commitments to train and raise the standard of living of people across the value chain. The aim is to create opportunities through inclusivity and prepare people for the future of work. Key aspects include:
- Ensuring that everyone who directly provides goods and services to us earns at least a living wage or income by 2030.
- Spending €2 billion annually with suppliers owned and managed by people from under-represented groups, by 2025.
- Helping 5 million small and medium-sized businesses grow through access to skills, finance and technology, by 2025.
- Ensuring that our employees are reskilled or upskilled by 2025, and have access to flexible employment options by 2030.
- Equipping 10 million young people with essential skills to prepare them for job opportunities, by 2030.
Enabling livelihoods in India
As one of the biggest FMCG companies in India, Hindustan Unilever Limited (HUL) generates direct and indirect employment for hundreds of thousands of people across its value chain. HUL’s supplier and distribution networks involve thousands of small farmers, distributors and retailers, many of whom are women. Through community initiatives, HUL is embedding sustainability across its business and using the power of its brands to contribute to a fairer, more socially inclusive world.
Hindustan Unilever Foundation (HUF):
HUL has generated over 30 million person-days of employment via the Foundation through water conservation projects and judicious water use in agriculture. HUF’s NGO partners across the country have effectively leveraged the government’s flagship National Rural Employment Guarantee Programme. Under this programme, communities earn wages as they build water conservation infrastructure – helping villages achieve water security and economic well-being. HUF supports on-farm deployment of innovations to help farmers reduce their water usage in a cropping season, to make another cropping season viable for them. A combination of local cadres of frontline agronomists, large scale demonstrations of innovations and superior farm practices, the use of mobile-enabled advisory solutions and appropriate inputs are transforming the economy and ecology of programme villages for the better.
As a Company, we realise that the economic empowerment of the local communities, including those around HUL sites, is critical. Our Project Prabhat is aligned to Unilever’s purpose-led, future-fit agenda and India’s National Policy on Skill Development and Entrepreneurship. We collaborate with NGO partners, social enterprises and established livelihood centres to give rural communities a platform to enhance employable skills, and in turn provide them with a source of income generation. Be it through employment or entrepreneurship, 18 Prabhat Livelihood Centres have thus far enrolled 88728 people, certified 71866 and provided employment to over 48621 people across the country. More than 70% of these have been women.
A livelihood enhancing opportunity for women micro-entrepreneurs in rural India, Project Shakti has familiarised many with HUL’s products and the basic tenets of distribution management. By the end of 2020, the project had supported over 1,36,000 Shakti entrepreneurs across 18 states in India to sell products to small retail outlets in the immediate village and directly to consumers in the community. Shakti incentives are being transferred directly to their bank, helping rural women entrepreneurs enter the formal banking segment, bringing in the benefits of financial inclusion.
The brand’s mobile vending initiative “I Am Wall’s” trains youth in sales, customer service and problem-solving, coupled with providing entrepreneurial exposure. This initiative has empowered over 14,283 people and 153 persons with disabilities across the country.
To support economic growth, HUL ensures that all its raw materials are sourced locally and sustainably. A number of key crops and commodities such as palm oil, paper and board, soy, sugar, tea, dairy, rapeseed, cereals, vegetables, cocoa, herbal infusions and vanilla, have been prioritised as they make up over two-thirds of HUL’s raw materials. In 2020, 73% of these crops were sustainably sourced, over 93% of the tomatoes used in Kissan Ketchup were locally and sustainably sourced from 10,000 farmers across India, and over 67% of tea in India procured for Unilever brands was sourced from sustainable sources. Additionally, by the end of 2020, 100% of the chicory was sourced sustainably as all Unilever chicory farmers in India were covered under the Unilever Sustainable Agriculture Code, providing farmers knowledge and expertise in sustainable agriculture practices.
HUL is now working with farmers and suppliers to drive up social and environmental standards in the supply chain. Constant support on the implementation of best farming principles and practices are also provided through the Unilever Sustainable Agriculture Code and equivalent standards like trustea and Rainforest Alliance.
To improve livelihoods in tea, our alliance with trustea ensures that all legally mandated wages and benefits are paid. These benefits are significant in improving livelihoods of the plantation workers engaged in the tea industry. The impact of this is seen on a large scale in tea bought leaf factories as well. Equality and fair treatment of all workers without any gender bias has contributed to raising the quality of life for the women workforce, which accounts for about 60% of the workers in tea. Promoting a systematic grievance redressal mechanism provides workers an assurance of fair treatment.
Rin Shine Academy:
The Rin Shine Academy aims to inspire, educate and equip youth from modest backgrounds to make them career-ready. They are trained to speak in English and guided on how to handle interviews. In keeping with the times, the program has moved from a website/IVRS-based training to an Android mobile application. The Rin Shine Academy has already trained approximately 6,37,178 people, of which approximately 80,178 people have been trained in 2020 alone.
Glow & Lovely Careers:
Our Glow & Lovely Careers initiative help women create an identity for themselves through career guidance, skill-based courses, and job opportunities, as well as online training and skilling. So far, over 10,00,000 registered users have benefited from this initiative.
Plastic Waste Management:
HUL’s plastic waste management programmes through partners such as UNDP and Xynteo aim to bring the unorganised sector of waste pickers into the mainstream by providing employment opportunities. So far, the lives of 700 Safai Sathis have been improved through these initiatives.
Rexona Confidence Academy:
The academy has trained over 15 lakh young college-going girls who are at the cusp of transitioning to the professional world on interview preparation.
Nine of every ten households in India use HUL’s products, and all efforts towards inclusivity leverage HUL’s extensive network and scale to improve living standards and better the lives of people. By encouraging and empowering the remotest of people from India’s heartlands, the objective is to improve employment prospects with impactful actions. If enhancing skills and access to training can create a level playing field for all, it will bring about equity in employability that will open up gates for the underrepresented communities and further stretch our circumference of economic, sociological and psychological wellbeing.
Through the Unilever Compass, every individual at Unilever is helping to build a world where people have the power to thrive. The various community initiatives undertaken are designed in line with the three fundamental beliefs of the Compass - Companies with purpose last, Brands with purpose grow and, People with purpose thrive. Collective action is the need of the hour to build a society that helps to improve livelihoods, embraces diversity, nurtures talent, and offers opportunities for everyone.