Purpose, values & principles
Our Corporate Purpose states that to succeed requires "the highest standards of corporate behaviour towards everyone we work with, the communities we touch, and the environment on which we have an impact."
Our values define how we do business and interact with our colleagues, partners, customers and consumers. Our four core values are integrity, responsibility, respect and pioneering. As we expand into new markets, recruit new talent and face new challenges, these guide our people in the decisions and actions they take every day.
Always working with integrity
Doing business with integrity has always been at the heart of our corporate responsibility commitments. Integrity defines how we behave, wherever we are. It guides us to do the right thing for the long-term success of Unilever.
Positive impact and continuous improvement
We aim to make a positive impact through our brands, our commercial operations and relationships, voluntary contributions and various other ways in which we engage with business partners and society at large. We're also committed to continuously improving the way we manage our impacts and our longer-term goal of developing a sustainable business.
Setting out our aspirations
Our Corporate Purpose sets out our aspirations in running our business. It's underpinned by our values and, equally importantly, our Code of Business Principles, which since 1995 describes the operational standards everyone at Unilever must follow, wherever they are in the world.
The Code of Business Principles is supported by 24 internal Code Policies that provide a framework of simple Musts and Must Nots that apply to all employees and others working for Unilever.
Working with others
We want to work with suppliers, agents, distributors and other business partners who have values similar to ours and uphold the same standards as we do. Our Responsible Sourcing Policy and Responsible Business Partner Policy, aligned to Unilever’s Code of Business Principles, seek to uphold twelve fundamental principles covering business integrity including specific responsibilities relating to employees, consumers and the environment.
Unilever’s reputation for doing business with integrity and with respect for the interests of those our activities can affect is an asset, just as real as our people and brands. Our first priority is to be a successful business: 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. We want our Code of Business Principles, related Code Policies and third party compliance programme to have a positive impact in day-to-day business: each one of us must uphold these at all times.
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.
Unilever is committed to a working environment that promotes diversity and equal opportunity and where there is mutual trust, respect for human rights and no discrimination.
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 provide employees with a total remuneration package that meets or exceeds the legal minimum standards or appropriate prevailing industry standards.
We will not use any form of forced, compulsory, trafficked 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 support the right of employees to freedom of association and collective bargaining.
We will maintain good communications with employees through company based information and consultation procedures.
We will ensure transparent, fair and confidential procedures for employees to raise concerns.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 Interest
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, which is chaired by the Chief Legal Officer.
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, supported by local Code Committees. Assurance of compliance is given and monitored each year. Compliance 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. The Board of Unilever will not criticise management for any loss of business resulting from adherence to these principles and other mandatory policies. Provision has been made for employees to be able to report in confidence and no employee will suffer as a consequence of doing so.