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Raise living standards

Unilever enables millions of people to earn a living. We endeavour to ensure fairer wages, access to opportunities, and a fairer world to raise the living standards across our value chain.

Evolving business needs, as well as the growing ambitions of the increasingly connected youth, have brought our focus back on providing the right opportunities for talent across the country.

Through our Compass strategy to be a global leader in sustainable business, we have laid down a wide-ranging set of actions and commitments to create inclusive opportunities and prepare people for the future of work.

Breaking the cycle of poverty, unlocking growth

A lot of people are not paid as much as the value that they create. And these wages not only affect them as individuals but also affect their families and communities.

A living wage or income provides for a family’s basic needs and amenities such as healthcare, and acts as a cushion for unexpected events.

We are committed to pay a living wage in our own business and ensuring that all Unilever suppliers earn at least a living wage or income by 2030.

Implementing UN guiding principles on business and human rights

Setting the standards of inclusive behaviour at our workplaces is our Code of Business Principles (Code), which upholds the principle of equal human rights and is promoted in three ways:

  • By upholding values and standards across operations
  • By supporting our relationships, while reinforcing the principles of Human Rights and Labour rights for all our suppliers
  • By working through external initiatives

All the sites in Hindustan Unilever are under Collective Bargaining Agreements and are aligned with the International Labour Organisation’s (ILO) principles. We have also implemented the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights throughout our operations. Our suppliers have adopted practices consistent with Unilever’s Responsible Sourcing Policy (RSP), which is also available on our website (PDF 8.25MB).

Our Code not only ensures that we conduct our operations with honesty, integrity and openness but also supports our approach to governance and corporate responsibility.

100% procurement spend aligned with our Responsible Sourcing Policy

Image of a tomato farmer from India

Our suppliers are expected to uphold the standards set by our Responsible Sourcing Policy (RSP) on human and labour rights. We continually strive to find solutions and extend our support to suppliers that have identified issues affecting the workers’ human and labour rights. We have set in place due diligence procedures to identify human rights and risks, not only in the supply chain but also in third-party audits.

Our RSP sets mandatory requirements on human and labour rights for suppliers. Unilever remains committed to sourcing 100% of its procurement spend in line with the policy. We engage with all our suppliers to progressively work towards achieving best-in-class practices.

Creating framework for fair compensation

Our framework for fair compensation, a core element of Unilever’s Compass strategy, ensures that compensation is fair and all our HUL factories and offices are covered by Collective Bargaining Agreements (CBA). Our supply chain units have already been paying wages that are well above the statutory minimum wages, as prescribed by law.

Fair compensation also means considering the costs incurred by our employees outside the workplace. The Variable Dearness Allowance (VDA) that is linked to the Cost Price Index (CPI), accounts for inflation, and compensates for any increase in commodity prices and standard of living.

Additionally, we are committed to moving from ‘Fair Wage’ to ‘Living Wage’, aiding employees with their higher education, children’s education, and housing facilities. We ensure that compensation not only adheres to the CBAs, but also by continually reviewing the average pay between genders, it is at par with the external industry benchmarks.

Helping SME retailers grow and reach consumers

Small and medium-sized enterprises account for two-thirds of all employment. By 2025, we aim to help two million SMEs grow their businesses in India. We aim to achieve this by providing ease of access to finance, technology, and skills.

For example, in India we have a joint initiative with the State Bank of India (SBI), to enable digital solutions for retailers and customers of Hindustan Unilever Limited (HUL). Under this collaboration, the bank offers an instant paperless overdraft loan facility of up to Rs. 50,000 to retailers for their billings with distributors.

Enabling livelihoods in India

Hindustan Unilever Limited (HUL) generates direct and indirect employment for a large number of people across its value chain. HUL’s supplier and distribution network involves thousands of small farmers, distributors and retailers, many of whom are women. Through community initiatives, HUL embeds sustainability across its business and uses the power of its brands to contribute to a fairer, more socially inclusive world.

Working directly with sellers to build skills

We help raise standards of living by recruiting and training sales agents from smaller towns and villages. While we improve our channels to reach our consumers, we simultaneously also provide them with sales and accounting training, marketing skills, as well as extended credit.

Our ‘Shakti Ammas’ (women micro-entrepreneurs) are a classic example. We have helped over 1,60,000 Shakti entrepreneurs to build a robust distribution network in India. This helps them generate income for themselves and cater to the needs of their communities. Shakti incentives are now distributed through direct bank transfers, helping rural women entrepreneurs enter the formal banking segment. This brings in the benefits of financial inclusion.

Hindustan Unilever Foundation (HUF)

HUL has generated over 60 million person-days of employment via the Hindustan Unilever Foundation through water conservation projects and judicious water use in agriculture. HUF’s NGO partners leverage the government’s flagship National Rural Employment Guarantee Programme, and enable communities to earn wages as they build water conservation infrastructures. This helps achieve water security and economic wellbeing for the rural communities.

HUF also 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 best farm practices, the use of mobile-enabled advisory solutions and appropriate inputs are transforming the ecology and economy of programme villages, for the better.

Project Prabhat

Prabhat operates in communities around HUL’s operations with interventions that lead to economic empowerment, environmental sustainability, improved health and nutrition and skill building. So far, we have reached over seven million lives and the journey continues.

Kwality Wall’s

The brand’s mobile vending initiative ‘I Am Wall’s’ trains youth in sales, customer service and problem-solving, coupled with entrepreneurial exposure. This initiative has empowered around 11,500 people and around 250 differently abled persons across the country.

Sustainable Farming

HUL sources its raw materials locally and sustainably to support economic growth. Over 93% of the tomatoes used in Kissan Ketchup were locally and sustainably sourced from 6,800 farmers across India. More than 68% of tea for our brands was sourced from sustainable sources. By the end of 2021, 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.

We are working with farmers and suppliers to drive up social and environmental standards in the supply chain. Constant support on the implementation of the best farming principles and practices are also provided through the Unilever Sustainable Agriculture Code and equivalent standards like trustea and Rainforest Alliance.

With an aim to improve the livelihoods of the plantation workers and smallholder farmers in the tea industry, the alliance with trustea ensures that all legally mandated wages and benefits are paid.

The impact of this can be witnessed at a large scale in the tea Bought Leaf Factories as well. Observing equality and fair treatment of all plantation workers without any gender bias has contributed towards raising the quality of life for the women workforce (which accounts for about 60% of the workers in the tea industry). This promotes a systematic grievance redressal mechanism and provides workers with the assurance of fair treatment.

Glow & Lovely Careers

Over 1.6 million users registered in HUL’s Glow & Lovely Careers programme have benefited from career guidance, skill-based courses as well as job opportunities to empower themselves for a better future.

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 them employment opportunities. Many of the Safai Sathis’ lives have improved through these initiatives.

Nine out of ten households in India use our products and all efforts towards inclusivity leverage our extensive network and scale towards improving the living standards and bettering the lives of people. By encouraging and empowering the remotest of people from India’s heartlands, we aim to enhance employment prospects with impactful actions. If enhancing skills and training can create a level playing field for all, it will bring about equity in employability that will open gates for the underrepresented communities and thereby further stretch our circumference of economic, sociological, and psychological wellbeing.

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