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Unilever: Corporate Sustainability Report

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  1. Executive summary
  2. Overview of the global corporation
    1. Products and services offered
    2. Unilever in the world
  3. Strategy of the organization in terms of sustainability
    1. Corporate policy and philosophy
    2. Management responsibilities for environmental and social issues
    3. Corporate objectives, goals and plans regarding environmental and social issues
  4. Sustainability issue and corporate approach
    1. The issue
    2. The approach
    3. Value impact
  5. Evaluations and recommendations

Sustainability has become the buzz word in many companies and industries in recent years. All major organizations operate some form of sustainability program, as there will be certification of the amount of documentation on their website. But most of them also publish their responsible attitude to a certain degree of transparency to their stakeholders.

Unilever is an Anglo-Dutch multinational corporation that owns many of the world's consumer product brands, from food and beverage to home and personal care products. The company has always claimed to be driven by a strong set of values and has done a lot in terms of sustainability during the last decade. However, in 2008, the multinational corporation has been accused by Greenpeace UK for causing deforestation. Even if Unilever has already chaired the Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), the NGO claims that Unilever has been buying palm oil from suppliers that are damaging Indonesia's rainforests and causing the extermination of orangutans.

Shortly after these allegations, Unilever suspended future purchases of palm oil and claimed that, it will use certified palm oil as it becomes available. In addition, the corporation decided to take a collaborative approach with Greenpeace, and both organizations agreed to form a coalition that will also include multinational companies such as Nestle, Cadbury, Kraft, Procter & Gamble and other diverse partners. This collaboration is supposed to tackle the issue of sustainable palm oil production and is run alongside the Roundtable for ?Sustainable Palm Oil?.

Today, less than 4% of the annual production of palm oil is certified sustainable and the RSPO demands some serious reforms. Moreover, with an appropriate communication strategy about the palm oil issue, corporations such as Unilever could have been more efficient in finding a solution that would also add value to its corporation. I believe that Unilever has not been proactive enough to resolve the palm oil issue in a way that would have maximized its value economically, environmentally and socially.

All multinational companies are now involved in sustainability measures to a certain extent. Larger companies clearly have to work harder to keep their business sustainable, as they consume more raw materials, produce more packaging wastes, employ more people, rely on a greater number of suppliers, operate more production facilities and need to convince more people of their sustainability involvement.

This global corporation sustainability report will cover the case of Unilever, one of the leaders of the food and consumer goods industry in Europe and throughout the world. The international corporation recently claimed that, corporate social responsibility is at the heart of its business. However, it seems that the transition to a responsible and sustainable company is still ongoing as Unilever has attracted a variety of criticisms from environmental, political and human rights activists on not achieving the aims it is trying to communicate on a certain number of topics.

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