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Enhancing livelihoods

In 2018, we made steady progress across the three pillars of our enhancing livelihoods goal – fairness in the workplace, opportunities for women and inclusive business.

Fairness in the workplace

Unilever implements the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights throughout its operations and reports on progress publicly. Our Code of Business Principles upholds the principles of human rights and fair treatment. The Code describes the operational standards we follow and supports our approach to governance and corporate responsibility. It ensures that we conduct our operations with honesty, integrity and openness and with respect for human rights and interests of employees.

We seek to uphold and promote human rights in three ways:

  • In our operations, by upholding values and standards
  • In relationships with suppliers, and
  • By working through external initiatives.

Unilever's Understanding the Responsible Sourcing Audit (URSA) Guide for Suppliers, reinforces the principles of Human Rights and Labour Rights for all our suppliers. In accordance with this guide, all suppliers are expected to adopt practices that are consistent with that of the company. The URSA is available on our website.

Our human rights practices assure respect for the employees’ rights to freedom of association and collective bargaining, where permissible by law. All sites in HUL are under collective bargaining agreements. Our Code of Business Principles conforms to the International Labour Organisation (ILO) principles.

Create framework for fair compensation

All HUL factory sites and offices are covered by Collective Bargaining Agreements (CBA), we sign with our employee unions. We ensure that compensation to employees adheres to the CBAs, various statutory requirements and is at par with external industry benchmarks. All our supply chain units pay wages which are well above the statutory minimum wages as prescribed by the law.

As a part of the standard wage structure, there is also an element called Variable Dearness Allowance (VDA) which takes inflation into consideration and compensates for the increase in commodity prices and standard of living. VDA has been linked to the Cost Price Index (CPI) which keeps on changing every six months as notified by the Ministry of Labour & Employment. Over and above the fair wage, we also provide assistance to employees for their higher education, children's education and housing facilities. Our objective is to move from 'Fair Wage' to 'Fair Living Wage' to ensure the highest level of employee satisfaction and a higher level of productivity. Same is imbibed as part of our Sustainable Employment policy as well.

Improve employee health, nutrition and well-being

Lamplighter is our framework for addressing employee health and well-being. As part of the programme, employees are assigned colour codes based on their health check-up where green signifies good health, amber denotes the need for the improvement and red alarms the need for tracking major health improvement. In 2018, we significantly reduced the number of employees in red by 3.1% compared to 8.2% in the previous year.

This was achieved through targeted individual health improvement plans which were tracked very closely. We ran several programs for habit change and measured the direct impact on steps taken, calorie intake, water intake etc, using the latest technology, in addition to measuring an indirect impact like BMI/BP/Sugar etc. Our mental health programme through the ‘ReachOut’ helpline included tele-counselling and face-to-face counselling in required cases and is available for our employees and families. We provided grief counselling and support as needed.

Additionally, India was the first Unilever country to go live and launch the LMMH (Line Manager Mental Health) - ‘Survive to Thrive’ module for addressing workplace stress. Our wellbeing activations touched over 10,000 employees across locations with a key message of embracing ‘Selfcare.’ This was supported by engaging events and expert talks across our factories and offices with topics such as ‘maketimetotalk’. We also ran a workplace stress survey and celebrated International Yoga Day 2018 across locations.

Reduce workplace injuries and accidents

We have the vision to become an injury-free organisation i.e. zero: fatalities, injuries, motor vehicle incidents, process incidents, and tolerance of unsafe behaviour and practices. In 2018, our Total Recordable Frequency Rate (TRFR) reduced by 82% compared to the 2008 baseline for accidents in the factories and offices.

Opportunities for women

Build a gender-balanced organisation with a focus on management

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By the end of 2018, HUL had a 40.41% gender balance at the managerial level. In addition to this, the following steps were taken to build a gender-balanced workplace: ­

  • Paternity leave was increased to three weeks in line with global paternity leave standard. ­
  • The year 2018 also saw the launch of the Unstereotype Campaign during International Women’s day and the activation of Emerging Women Leaders Forum. The campaign aims to ‘unstereotype’ mindsets and ‘unstereotype’ our value chain to make equal opportunity the new norm. ­
  • Like every year, Career by Choice continued to be HUL’s flagship ‘back to work’ programme for women returning from a career break giving them the platform to transition back to mainstream work by working on live projects while also allowing for flexibility.

Promote safety for women in communities where we operate

We aim to improve safety for women and girls in our operations and the communities where we operate including our extended supply chain. We do this through awareness, engagement and capacity building for women and men. Our focus is on increasing awareness on sexual harassment, gender-based violence and strengthening grievance mechanisms.

Enhance access to training and skills

HUL has helped over 5,000 employees, and over 6,000 blue collar workers to be part of a customised ‘Discover your purpose’ workshop. The workshop works around a unique format for sharing life stories to help employees discover ‘their true north’ as Unilever believes - Brands with a purpose grow, companies with a purpose last, people with a purpose thrive. Additionally, over 2,80,732 training man hours were invested in blue-collar employee training across units. Over 1,00,000 training hours were invested in employee training. Over 25% of this investment was through online learning making it a key enabler to move towards a connected and sustained learning model.

Fair & Lovely scholarship

Fair & Lovely Career Foundation is a mobile platform designed to help women create an identity for themselves through career guidance, skill-based courses and job opportunities. The platform addresses multiple educational barriers that girls and women in India face including limited access to transportation, lack of parental permission, high cost of courses and inadequate availability of local institutes. Fair & Lovely Career Foundation is powered by a range of high-quality education and career guidance partners including established edtech companies such as NIIT, edX, English Edge and start-ups like testbook.com and idreamcareer.com

Over 600,000 women have registered to date on the platform with approximately 200,000 women accessing career guidance resources and online courses respectively and 50,000 women opting for job-oriented tests and profile builder.

From the first quarter of 2019, the platform has also begun accepting applications for Assisted Selling Advisor positions for HUL brands. Interested candidates are requested to register, complete one course on the platform and submit their resume. Students and job-seekers can also discover internships via the platform’s partnership with a leading internship listing service. Fair & Lovely continues to support women through education.

Expand opportunities in our value chain

Project Shakti

Project Shakti aims to provide livelihood enhancing opportunities to women micro-entrepreneurs in rural India. Shakti entrepreneurs (SEs) are given training for familiarisation with HUL’s products and basic tenets of distribution management. HUL has a team of Rural Sales Promoters (RSPs) who coach and help SEs in managing their business. Project Shakti has more than one lakh micro-entrepreneurs across 18 states.

Rin Career Ready Academy

Rin Career Ready Academy aims to inspire, educate and equip the youth from modest backgrounds with skills in English training delivered step-by-step through online or mobile phone. The academy offers a ‘Tele-Conferencing’ module where students can speak to a ‘real’ teacher instead of an automated voice. We also have a web course available on www.rin.in. So far, over 5,20,000 people have benefitted from this programme.

Inclusive business

Improve livelihoods of smallholder farmers

We have been associated with a number of smallholder farmers through our supplier partners, training them on good agricultural practices like drip irrigation, nutrient management, pest and disease management to improve their livelihood. A total of 10,000 smallholder gherkin farmers in southern India have benefitted from Unilever’s innovative Responsible Farming Programme. The aim is to increase productivity, develop best practices and improve livelihoods.

Smallholder farmers growing tomatoes for HUL have also benefitted from similar training initiatives. Till date, we have reached over 8,000 smallholder farmers who grew tomatoes on more than 11,000 acres of land.

Improve the incomes of small-scale retailers

Our Kwality Wall's mobile vending initiative, ‘I am Wall’s’, has provided entrepreneurship opportunities to over 14,500 people across India. This programme has helped vendors become self-sufficient micro-entrepreneurs selling ice creams on the move helping us reach more consumers on the street. It equips people with skills such as sales, customer service and problem-solving and provides many young people with work experience as they step into the job market.

In most cases, each vendor can make INR 7,000-8,000 a month. Some of our vendors have now become distributors themselves, managing INR 2-10 crore in the ice cream business and earning upwards of INR 1,00,000 per month.

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