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Safeguarding data

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Unilever respects the privacy of all individuals, including our employees and consumers. We handle any personal data and digital information we hold about them responsibly.

A culture of privacy

When we use personal data, we do so with integrity and transparency, upholding the rights of the individual in accordance with our values and the law.

This helps us to build and maintain trust, which enables us to create meaningful, closer and long-lasting relationships, not just with our consumers but with our customers, employees and suppliers.

A transparent approach

Data privacy is a key part of our Code of Business Principles and Code Policies (PDF 6.07 MB). Every year, all employees must read and sign up to our Personal Data and Privacy Code Policy (PDF 92.05 KB) as part of their annual code pledge.

This sets out in detail what everyone handling personal data is required to do in relation to Data Protection and Privacy.

Employees must:

  • Only collect data that is adequate and relevant, and use it solely for the purpose for which it was collected.

  • Be transparent with individuals in relation to how their personal data is used, in alignment with Unilever privacy notices.

  • Obtain consent from individuals in accordance with local law.

  • Keep personal data up to date, correcting inaccurate information when requested and respecting individual legal rights.

  • Keep personal data confidential and secure.

  • Act responsibly and ethically, upholding Unilever’s core values whilst considering the risk to individuals in using their personal data, and taking steps to mitigate such risk.

  • We always expect our suppliers to follow the principles in our Code Policy and their privacy responsibilities are also made clear to them in the Responsible Partner Policy.

Our Five Privacy Fundamentals

The overarching Code Policy on Privacy is supported by an internal global privacy policy which sets out in more detail what the Code Policy means in practice.

Our internal policy is based on our Five Privacy Fundamentals. These 5 privacy fundamentals underpin how we handle personal data at Unilever. They help us understand what we should think about when we collect and handle personal data.

These 5 privacy fundamentals apply across all geographies and data categories. The order of the fundamentals is deliberate:

  1. First, we understand the purpose and objective of the business activity that requires personal data.
  2. Then we assess if there is proportionality for the type and amount of data we are attempting to collect/use.
  3. Ensuring transparency is of paramount importance to drive and maintain trust. This sits at the centre of our Five Privacy Fundamentals, and we expect everyone to go above and beyond legal requirements to achieve the highest levels of transparency.
  4. Securing and protecting the data is fundamental to maintaining compliance with laws and most importantly trust from those who have trusted us with their personal data.
  5. Finally, we must demonstrate good governance and accountability across Unilever, such as looking at the controls that are in place, and how we ensure that these principles are being met.

Privacy by design

We adopt a Privacy by Design approach – this means we embed privacy in everything we do and document it in a privacy risk assessment.

This not only helps us to fulfil global data protection compliance obligations, it also enables us to do the right thing when it comes to handling data from our consumers, customers, employees and suppliers.

Our Privacy Notice explains more about how we collect personal data, why we collect it and what we do with it.

Using an expert team to protect our data

We invest in building true accountability for data privacy, quality and excellence. For example, we bring together world-class data and legal experts to provide credible, proportionate and executable solutions. The Chief Privacy Officer leads this team supported by a central team and local data privacy advisors who advise markets on privacy issues.

We set ourselves high standards and monitor our compliance with them. We report regularly about key privacy risks ensuring that there is also executive level oversight of these.

We also commission external third-party audits to assess various elements of compliance with our policies.

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