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Respecting human rights

Hindustan Unilever respect human rights

At HUL, upholding human rights is fundamental and non-negotiable. It is the cornerstone of a socially inclusive society, fostering equitable income distribution and promoting diversity and inclusion. Our commitment extends to all stakeholders, including smallholder farmers, supply chain workers, and employees across our offices, ensuring that the value we generate is distributed fairly and transparently at every stage.

Find out about the actions we're taking

HUL factory shopfloor image

Zero-tolerance policy

We have a zero-tolerance policy towards any form of intimidation, discrimination, harassment, threats, or physical and legal attacks against human rights defenders related to our operations. Our efforts include reducing excessive working hours and continually enhancing workplace safety measures.

Respecting human rights and tackling abuse

We have developed three primary ways of combating abuse and human rights violations:

  1. Protecting human rights across our businesses

    • We have identified eight key human rights issues which are: discrimination, fair wages, forced labour, freedom of association, harassment, health and safety, land rights, and working hours.
    • Our Respect, Dignity, and Fair Treatment Code Policy outlines our commitment to upholding a culture of respect and fairness.
    • Our Code of Business Principles (CoBP) is dedicated to promoting and upholding human rights within our operations and in our relationships with other businesses and partners. The CoBP aligns with external initiatives such as the United Nations Global Compact to achieve these goals.
    • HUL’s CoBP adheres to the principles of human rights and fair treatment outlined by the International Labour Organisation (ILO).
    • In addition to ensuring ethical conduct in our operations, the CoBP also supports our governance and corporate responsibility strategies.
    • Our Responsible Partner Policy for suppliers reinforces human rights and labour rights principles for all our suppliers, available on Unilever’s website (PDF 4.45 MB).
    • All workers are free to exercise their right to join or refrain from joining trade unions, ensuring collective bargaining rights for all employees.

    For more, refer to our Business Responsibility and Sustainability Report (BRSR).

  2. Embedding respect for human rights in relationships with business partners

    • Our suppliers are expected to adhere to the standards outlined in our Responsible Partner Policy (RPP) regarding human and labour rights.
    • We actively seek solutions and provide support to suppliers addressing labour rights issues, maintaining a consistent and action-oriented approach.
    • Our supply chain diligence procedures include identifying human rights risks and conducting third-party audits.
  3. Fundamental principles of our Responsible Partner Policy

    Our RPP details what we expect of our partners through 17 Fundamental Principles, which are organised into three interconnected pillars: Human Rights, Business Integrity & Ethics, and Planet. It also defines the Mandatory Requirements, Mandatory Management Systems and Future Mandatory Requirements that partners must meet – or exceed – to do business with us.

The cover of our Responsible Partner Policy 2022, featuring an illustration of two people auditing a factory

Creating frameworks for a living wage and fair compensation

A lady  employee at HUL's factory.

Our framework for fair compensation across HUL factories and offices is established through Collective Bargaining Agreements (CBAs).

  • We ensure that our employees receive wages above the statutory minimum as required by law in all our supply chain units.
  • Our Variable Dearness Allowance (VDA), tied to the Cost Price Index (CPI), addresses inflation, and adjusts for any rise in commodity prices and living expenses.
  • Our goal is to transition from fair wages to living wages, enabling employees to afford a decent standard of living, encompassing healthcare, education, housing, and other essential needs for themselves and their families.
  • We regularly assess gender-based pay differentials to ensure alignment with industry standards and benchmarks.

A strong policy framework and human rights governance

Two hands protecting a group of people. The image represents care and protection.

We believe that addressing key human rights issues in our value chain is essential for building a more resilient business.

  • In human rights governance, our leadership, led by our CEO and supported by the Unilever Leadership Executive (ULE), plays a pivotal role.
  • We provide consultation and strategic guidance, especially in critical situations or significant impact scenarios, aiding in major business decisions and substantial financial investments when needed.
  • Utilising advanced digital technology enhances our ability to swiftly identify and address worker-related issues, ensuring agility and transparency in our processes.
  • Our primary focus remains on remediation, implementing best practices, and establishing preventive measures, all while upholding the rights of our workers.

Protecting health and safety

Our Total Recordable Frequency Rate (TRFR)[a] for employees and workers put together for 2023 stood at 0.32 accidents per million hours worked.

We make every effort required to integrate safety into all business processes. Credible risks are evaluated, and adequate actions are taken to mitigate these risks. Safety incidents are reported, investigated and lessons learnt are communicated widely within the organisation. This is underpinned by continuous improvement objectives and periodic reviews through the Safety and Health Sub-Committees, each headed by a Management Committee Member to ensure that we achieve our targets. A robust audit mechanism is in place to verify compliance with internal standards as well as statutory requirements.

A group photo from HUL's factory site celebrating world safety week.  The employees are holding placards that read 'All in for Safety.'

Efficiency for a larger impact

Our approach to human rights issues has had a tangible impact on our operations and on everyone associated with HUL.

  • We act on breaches immediately.
  • We address grievances within our extended supply chain with commitment and diligence.
  • We keep our suppliers engaged and informed.
  • We think big and focus on taking collective action.
An aerial view of a man pulling a trolley through a warehouse loading bay

Our commitment to human rights governance is unwavering, and we continuously strive to improve our practices and uphold the dignity and rights of all individuals within our sphere of influence. Through proactive measures, swift responses to challenges, and collaborative efforts with our partners and stakeholders, we are dedicated to fostering a workplace and supply chain environment where human rights are respected, protected, and promoted. Together, we are shaping a future where fairness, equality, and inclusivity are integral to our operations, contributing to a more sustainable and responsible business landscape.


Our Lost Time Injury Frequency Rate (LTIFR), that is injuries per million hours worked. It counts all ‘lost time’ safety injuries, which means injuries that keep people away from work even for one day. Our LTIFR for employees is 0.13 and for workers is 0.13. *Our policies are defined globally and are regularly updated and available on Unilever’s Website.

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