Our principles

Standard of conduct

We conduct our operations with honesty, integrity and openness, and with respect for the human rights and interests of our employees. We shall similarly respect the legitimate interests of those with whom we have relationships.

Obeying the law

Unilever companies and employees are required to comply with the laws and regulations of the countries in which we operate.

Employees

Unilever is committed to diversity in a working environment  where there is mutual trust and respect and where everyone feels responsible for the performance and reputation of our company.

We will recruit, employ and promote employees on the sole basis of the qualifications and abilities needed for the work to be performed.

We are committed to safe and healthy working conditions for all employees. We will not use any form of forced, compulsory or child labour. We are committed to working with employees to develop and enhance each individual’s skills and capabilities.

We respect the dignity of the individual and the right of employees to freedom of association.

We will maintain good communications with employees through company based information and consultation procedures.

Consumers

Unilever is committed to providing branded products and services which consistently offer value in terms of price and quality, and which are safe for their intended use. Products and services will be  accurately and properly labelled, advertised and communicated.

Shareholders

Unilever will conduct its operations in accordance with internationally accepted principles of good corporate governance.

We will provide timely, regular and reliable information on our activities, structure, financial situation and performance to all shareholders.

Business partner

Unilever is committed to establishing mutually beneficial relations with our suppliers, customers and business partners.

In our business dealings we expect our partners to adhere to business principles consistent with our own.

Community involvement

Unilever strives to be a trusted corporate citizen and, as an integral part of society, to fulfil our responsibilities to the societies and communities in which we operate.

Public activities

Unilever companies are encouraged to promote and defend their legitimate business interests.

Unilever will co-operate with governments and other organisations, both directly and through bodies such as trade associations, in the development of proposed legislation and other regulations which may affect legitimate business interests.

Unilever neither supports political parties nor contributes to the funds of groups whose activities are calculated to promote party interests.

The environment

Unilever is committed to making continuous improvements in the management of our environmental impact and to the longer-term goal of developing a sustainable business.

Unilever will work in partnership with others to promote environmental care, increase understanding of environmental issues and disseminate good practice.

Innovation

In our scientific innovation to meet consumer needs we will respect the concerns of our consumers and of society. We will work on the basis of sound science, applying rigorous standards of product safety.

Competition

Unilever believes in vigorous yet fair competition and supports the development of appropriate competition laws. Unilever companies and employees will conduct their operations in accordance with the principles of fair competition and all applicable regulations.

Business integrity

Unilever does not give or receive, whether directly or indirectly, bribes or other improper advantages for business or financial gain. No employee may offer, give or receive any gift or payment which is, or may be construed as being, a bribe. Any demand for, or offer of, a bribe must be rejected immediately and reported to management.

Unilever accounting records and supporting documents must accurately describe and reflect the nature of the underlying transactions. No undisclosed or unrecorded account, fund or asset will be established or maintained.

Conflicts of Interests

All Unilever employees are expected to avoid personal activities and financial interests which could conflict with their responsibilities to the company.

Unilever employees must not seek gain for themselves or others through misuse of their positions.

Compliance – Monitoring – Reporting

Compliance with these principles is an essential element in our business success. The Unilever Board is responsible for ensuring these principles are applied throughout Unilever.

The Chief Executive Officer is responsible for implementing these principles and is supported in this by the Global Code and Policy Committee comprising the Chief Legal Officer (Chairman of the Global Code and Policy Committee), the Group Financial Controller, the SVP HR, the SVP Global Supply Chain and the VP Risk and Compliance (Secretary to the Global Code and Policy Committee). The Chief Auditor, the SVP Communications and Global VP Social Impact have a standing invitation to attend meetings. Quarterly reports are included in the Controller’s Risk and Control Report.

Day to day responsibility is delegated to all senior management of the geographies, categories, functions and operating companies. They are responsible for implementing these principles, if necessary through more detailed guidance tailored to local needs, and are supported in this by Cluster Code Committees comprising the Cluster General Counsel together with representatives from all relevant functions and categories.

Assurance of compliance is given and monitored each year. Compliance with the Code is subject to review by the Board supported by the Corporate Responsibility Committee and for financial and accounting issues the Audit Committee.

Any breaches of the Code must be reported in accordance with the procedures specified by the Chief Legal Officer. The Board of Unilever will not criticise management for any loss of business resulting from adherence to these principles and other mandatory policies and instructions.

The Board of Unilever expects employees to bring to their attention, or to that of senior management, any breach or suspected breach of these principles.

Provision has been made for employees to be able to report in confidence and no employee will suffer as a consequence of doing so.

In this Code the expressions ‘Unilever’ and ‘Unilever companies’ are used for convenience and mean the Unilever Group of companies comprising Unilever N.V., Unilever PLC and their respective subsidiary companies. The Board of Unilever means the Directors of Unilever N.V. and Unilever PLC.

Unilever has earned a reputation for conducting its business with integrity and with respect for the interests of those our activities can affect. This reputation is an asset, just as real as our people and brands.

Our first priority is to be a successful business and that means investing for growth and balancing short term and long term interests. It also means caring about our consumers, employees and shareholders, our business partners and the world in which we live.

To succeed requires the highest standards of behaviour from all of us. The general principles contained in this Code set out those standards. More detailed guidance tailored to the needs of different countries and companies will build on these principles as appropriate, but will not include any standards less rigorous than those contained in this Code.

We want this Code to be more than a collection of high sounding statements. It must have practical value in our day to day business and each one of us must follow these principles in the spirit as well as the letter.

Paul Polman, CEO