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Unilever embraces corporate social responsibility boosting profits, helping people and planet

Unilever embraces corporate social responsibility boosting profits, helping people and planet

Giant manufacturer of fast moving consumer goods, Unilever said recently corporate social responsibility is part of their core strategy and that this reflects in the company’s bottom line.

Unilever claimed top spot for the second year running in the Gartner Supply Chain Top 25, commended for reducing waste and increased use of renewable energy, and has been Africa’s number one Top Employer for three years running.

James Hu, Talent Manager for Top Employer Africa Unilever, said corporate social responsibility underpins the company’s Sustainable Living Plan, a blueprint for achieving growth without additional environmental impact and with greater social benefits. One of the plan’s goals is to help more than a billion people improve their health and well-being, which is translated into action through various outreach initiatives.

Business growth and profitability do not have to come at the expense of planet and people, said Hu adding “By being able to deliver value growth with our values, we have [been able] to achieve our growth targets while increasing our positive social and environmental impact.”

The adoption of a Sustainable Living Plan has led Unilever to make strides in all business areas, from brands and people to end-to-end supply. Unilever was recently named company with the most brands in the Kantar Worldpanel Global Top 50, most of these being Sustainable Living brands designed with a strong environmental or social purpose, and which grew 50% faster than Unilever’s other brands and contributed 60% of the company’s growth in 2016.

According to Hu, a successful corporate social responsibility programme effectively links business goals with individual values. “We want our employees to not just be able to bring their whole selves to work, but to live out their purpose fully here at Unilever,” he said.

Effective corporate social responsibility programmes grow the three Ps: profit, people and planet, said Billy Elliott, Country Manager of the Top Employers Institute in Africa. Increasing this ‘triple bottom line’ is a consistent pattern among Top Employers and research shows 97% of Top Employers across Africa have defined an organisation-wide CSR programme.

The Top Employers Institute, which recognises excellence in the conditions employers create for their people globally, helps organisations stay on top of current HR Best Practices. It recommends a combination of approaches for ensuring an effective CSR programme: defining the programme throughout the organisation, making information about the programme freely accessible, and consistently evaluating its impact and effectiveness.



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SADC Correspondent

SADC correspondents are independent contributors whose work covers regional issues of southern Africa outside the immediate Namibian ambit. Ed.