Unilever's responsible sourcing policy

This Responsible Sourcing Policy embodies our commitment to conduct business with integrity, openness, and respect for universal human rights and core labour principles throughout our operations. We aim to improve the lives of workers, their communities and the environment consistent with the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan. This Policy provides the framework through which we set out our responsible sourcing ambitions and approach.

Continuous Improvement

The Responsible Sourcing Policy is an illustration of Unilever's commitment to increase its positive social impact throughout the entire supply chain.

We need to ensure our supplier partners collaborate, understand and embrace the criteria in the Policy, and move up the continuous improvement ladder. To make this a reality, for our existing suppliers, we will initially focus on our 'Partner to Win' suppliers (approx. 200 large companies) who need to meet the Policy's Mandatory requirements by the end of March 2015. We will work with them to move to Good Practice by the end of 2016. These 'Partner to Win' suppliers cover about 1,200 sites globally. For the remainder of our strategic partners, our intention is that these 1,000 suppliers, who cover up to 10,000 sites, 80% of our production material spend and 50% of services and indirect materials spend, move from Mandatory by the end of March 2016 to Good Practice by the end of 2017.

We will track progress of the implementation through an internal software tool (Aravo) on a quarterly basis. The overall implementation timeframe is designed to allow, and complete, site specific audits and follow up as per our Policy for all strategic suppliers. Our existing supplier compliance programme will continue to run in parallel with the new Responsible Sourcing Policy roll out covering all raw and packaging material suppliers.

Unilever will not do business with new suppliers who do not meet the Mandatory requirements of our Responsible Sourcing Policy. We strive for continuous improvement with all suppliers.

Fundamental principles

Our Fundamental Principles that create the foundation of our Responsible Sourcing Policy are grounded in internationally recognised standards. We endorse the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and are embedding them throughout our operations.

In line with the Fundamental Principles, we base our Human Rights commitment on the International Bill of Human Rights consisting of the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights; and the International Labour Organisation’s fundamental conventions on Rights at Work. We support the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises.

The Fundamental Principles of the Responsible Sourcing Policy are:

  1. Business is conducted lawfully and with integrity. 

  2. Work is conducted on the basis of freely agreed and documented terms of employment. 

  3. All workers are treated equally and with respect and dignity. 

  4. Work is conducted on a voluntary basis. 

  5. All workers are of an appropriate age. 

  6. All workers are paid fair wages. 

  7. Working hours for all workers are reasonable. 

  8. All workers are free to exercise their right to form and / or join trade unions or to refrain from doing so and to bargain collectively. 

  9. Workers’ health and safety are protected at work.

  10. Workers have access to fair procedures and remedies.

  11. Land rights of communities, including indigenous peoples, will be protected and promoted.

  12. Business is conducted in a manner which embraces sustainability and reduces environmental impact.