Our corporate purpose states that to succeed requires ‘the highest standards of corporate behaviour.’
At HUL, we are committed to operate and grow our business in a socially responsible way. We have a simple purpose – to make sustainable living commonplace. Sustainability enshrined in this purpose builds future resilience of the business and ensures that we create long-term value for our stakeholders.
We believe that it is only when we work with our stakeholders can we achieve our sustainability targets. It is only then that we will be able to take responsibility for delivering the targets, across our value chain. Thus, we regularly reach out to our stakeholders to keep them informed and updated about our sustainability initiatives. We have a number of stakeholders, who we engage with, through different initiatives and channels of communication.
We have several communication processes instituted to ensure a two-way communication channel with our employees. These include:
HUL is committed to operate and grow its business in a socially relevant way. We care for the communities we operate in and strongly feel that ‘what is good for India is good for HUL.’ Therefore, besides achieving the goals and commitments underpinned by the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan (USLP) targets, HUL has launched a number of community well-being initiatives.
Hindustan Unilever Foundation (HUF) is a not-for-profit company that acts as a vehicle to anchor water management related community development and sustainability initiatives of Hindustan Unilever Limited. HUF operates the ‘Water for Public Good’ programme, with specific focus to empower local community institutions to govern water resources and enhance farm-based livelihoods through the adoption of judicious water management practices.
By the end of 2018, the cumulative and collective achievements delivered through partnered programmes of HUF include:
The cumulative impacts of these projects initiated by HUF have been independently assured.
‘Prabhat’ is HUL’s USLP-linked programme which contributes to the development of local communities around key sites including manufacturing locations. Prabhat aims to create sustainable communities in line with India’s development agenda and the global SDGs. We are building on the local community needs at the grassroots level through targeted pillars of enhancing livelihoods, water conservation and health and well-being awareness.
Project Prabhat is live in over 30 locations across the country. It has directly benefited over 2.9 million people across 12 states and 2 union territories in India through partnerships with over 20 NGOs and more than 5,000 HUL employee volunteers participated in the volunteering activities under Project Prabhat in the last five years.
We engage with our KOFs through a quarterly e-newsletter to keep them informed and updated about the initiatives undertaken by us every quarter.
To engage with key opinion formers and other stakeholders, HUL launched its official Twitter handle @HUL_News in September 2013. The handle provides regular updates on various news and developments on the company and has over 90,000 followers.
HUL has a strong presence on Facebook. The Facebook ‘Unilever Diaries India’ page has over 5,00,000 followers and helps the Company to deepen its engagement with the extended student community.
We believe in creating long-term value for the shareholders. We regularly interact with shareholders through multiple channels of communication such as results announcements, annual report, media releases, company website and subject-specific communication.
The Annual General Meeting of shareholders is an important annual event where the shareholders have the opportunity to listen to and interact with the Board of Directors and the management of the Company. The Board engages with shareholders and answers their queries on varied subjects.
We have a designated e-mail address for shareholders. The Investor Relations team interacts regularly with investors and analysts, through quarterly results calls, one-on-one and group meetings, participation at investor conferences and the annual investors meet. Through the Investor Centre section on our Company website we share the company’s quarterly results, shares listing, shareholding patterns for the recent quarters, dividend information and AGM information. Our website also provides ready access to the archives of our annual reports.
We have several interactive tools such as the alerting service through our financial calendar to keep investors and shareholders up to date with key investor events. In order to further improve shareholder service standards, we also seek feedback from our shareholders through our shareholder satisfaction survey. Company presentations covering key financial results are also archived on our website for the reference of our investors and shareholders.
We engage with media to keep our stakeholders updated about the developments in the Company. Regular interactions with print, television and online media take place through press releases, media events and during the financial results announcements. We also ensure timely and appropriate responses to media for any information requests within the stipulated disclosure norms.
Our distribution network comprises of over 3,000 distributors who service millions of outlets across India both in urban and rural markets. They help deliver our products. We constantly seek to understand the needs of the consumers, customers, retailers and distributors, and leverage technology to ensure that they are kept informed and engaged on our products and services.
Winning In Many Indias: We have consolidated the ambitious transformation agenda of Winning In Many Indias (WIMI) and strengthened the WIMI thinking across markets, embedding it into our ways of working. This has helped us to move the needle on quality of servicing and in-market execution by getting closer to the customers, shoppers and consumers. This approach has strengthened our connect with them across geographical clusters, and will be a source of competitive advantage for years to come.
Leveraging technology for execution effectiveness: We have been a pioneer in the area of big data and analytics as a tool to drive sustainable growth. Using more than millions of transactions captured every month, we use intelligent analytics at the back end, to deliver better on-shelf availability of our products in stores. We will continue to invest in the power of knowledge and big data to enhance the impact and effectiveness of execution.
Building brands in stores: Investments made by us in building brands in stores in the modern trade channel has started showing results. In 2018, prominence of our brands on shelf was significantly higher than in previous years. We saw strong growth across all key modern trade retail partners, driven by strong joint business plans. Our position in FMCG as a market leader coupled with the early investments in the e-commerce channel has helped us take the lead in developing this channel.
Levercare: Levercare is our helpline for consumers. It has a toll-free number, e-mail and a postal address where consumers can reach the Company directly. Levercare gives consumers the promise of better service and provides the Company to connect with consumers and understand their needs, expectations and aspirations. It helps consumers voice their queries, grievances and offer suggestions/ideas. Levercare has leveraged technology to deliver personalised service that helps to build one-on-one relationships with consumers and customers to delight them.
Call centres: The call centres set up for retailers has helped many of our traditional trade customers reach out directly to the Company. The calls received from retail outlets provide useful insights and help the Company understand issues and opportunities in the marketplace better and address them effectively.
Dispute redressal is an important aspect of a healthy customer relationship. We have developed a well-structured alternative disputes redressal mechanism for solving consumer and customer disputes and grievances. We have appointed an ombudsman for resolving consumer and customer grievances and disputes. Four retired judges of different high courts, one in each region, act as ombudsman to hear the Company’s consumers and customers in a bid to resolve long pending disputes.
The ombudsman independently reviews the merits of the complaint and decides on the issue. Decisions arrived at such dispute resolution meetings, while being fully binding on the Company, are not binding on its consumers and customers and if they choose to continue with litigation, they are free to do so. This operating principle has helped to bolster the confidence of consumers and customers. It has helped to resolve several long pending disputes thus providing a win-win solution to all stakeholders. The Company believes that such independent dispute resolution mechanisms will further reinforce its commitment and credibility.
Our supply chain operates the partner to win programme to encourage innovations from suppliers. This furthers innovation-led growth and helps us in our USLP commitment to halve the environmental impact of our products across their lifecycle.