Unilever publishes inaugural Human Rights report and says there’s still ‘a long way to go’


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Unilever publishes inaugural Human Rights report and says there’s still ‘a long way to go’

Related tags Human rights Sustainable development Sustainability

Unilever has published its first ever Human Rights report as it aims to document areas where the company has taken significant steps forward and assess some of the challenges ahead, as part of its sustainable development goals.

Last year, the Dove skin care maker formalised its commitment to respecting human rights as part of its Sustainable Living Plan, and became the first company to adopt the UN Guiding Principles Reporting Framework; the world’s first comprehensive guidance for businesses to report on how they are implementing the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.

Unilever is now the first company to produce a detailed, stand-alone report using the Framework​, highlighting key areas of progress, including its work to empower women, its progress in the fight against sexual harassment, and addressing health and safety issues across the supply chain.

Marcela Manubens, Global Vice President, Social Impact, Unilever says: “Our ambition is to embed the promotion of human rights into every function, every role, and every corner of our organization.”

Unilever has 172 000 employees, 76 000 suppliers, and sells in more than 190 countries around the world, with varying cultural norms and socio-economic challenges.

“We will know that we have been successful when all of these 172 000 people around the world understand what this agenda means in their job, and are empowered into action,”​ continues Manubens.

“We have a long way to go and we cannot do this alone - but being honest about the challenge we face is crucial to making progress.”

CEO looks ahead

Company CEO, Paul Polman, adds that looking ahead to the agreement of the UN Sustainable Development Goals in September and to the prospect of a global climate agreement in Paris at the end of the year, it is a fitting time to open an honest discussion about human rights.

“The effects of climate change threaten us all, with expected impacts hitting the poorest people and communities the hardest,”​ he says.

“They are often also those most at risk from negative human rights impacts. It is no longer enough for business to merely respect human rights. Our role must be far more active to ensure we succeed in our commitment.”

Unilever says it is also committed to building frameworks for improved data collection, verification and analysis, which will feed into the company’s future reports.

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