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Unilever for a "fairer" society

The Group promises decent wages and € 2 billion in favor of diversity

Unilever has committed to spending €2 billion annually with diverse suppliers and only doing business with companies that at least pay a living wage or income to its employees by 2030. The announcement forms part of a raft of new commitments and actions to help build a more equitable and inclusive society, as the consumer goods giant looks to raise living standards across its value chain and create more diverse opportunities. Unilever’s latest pledge will ensure that people who directly provides goods and services to the company will earn at least a living wage or income – which it defines as one that covers a family’s basic needs and that breaks the cycle of poverty. While Unilever claims it already pays its own employees at least a living wage, it wants to secure the same for more people beyond its own workforce, specifically focusing on vulnerable workers in manufacturing and agriculture. In order to achieve its commitment, Unilever will work with its suppliers, other businesses, governments and NGOs to create a global adoption of living wage practices.

As well as improve living standards for low-paid workers worldwide, Unilever says it will invest €2 billion annually with suppliers owned and managed by people from under-represented groups by 2025. The annual investment with diverse suppliers will include small and medium-sized businesses owned and managed by women, under-represented racial and ethic groups, people with disabilities and LGBTQI+. By 2025, the maker of Marmite and Ben & Jerry’s also aims to help five million small and medium-size enterprises (SMEs) in its retail value chain grow its business through access to skills, finance and technology. Meanwhile by 2030, the company pledges to equip 10 million young people with essential skills to prepare them for job opportunities. 

Alan Jope, Unilever CEO, said: “The past year has undoubtedly widened the social divide, and decisive and collective action is needed to build a society that helps to improve livelihoods, embraces diversity, nurtures talent, and offers opportunities for everyone. We believe the actions we are committing to will make Unilever a better, stronger business; ready for the huge societal changes we are experiencing today, changes that will only accelerate”. Gabriela Bucher, executive director at Oxfam International, said: “We welcome Unilever’s commitments for living wages and farmer incomes in the global supply chain, an important step in the right direction, and are proud to have been a partner of Unilever as it formed this ambitious new plan". The news is the latest in a level of commitments from the consumer goods giant. Last month, Unilever announced that it will seek shareholder approval for its climate action plan, in a bid to gain a non-binding advisory vote on its emissions reduction targets and the plans to achieve them.

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