Purpose & principles

"The highest standards of corporate behavior towards everyone we work with, the communities we touch, and the environment on which we have an impact."

Always working with integrity

Conducting our operations with integrity and with respect for the many people, organisations and environments our business touches has always been at the heart of our corporate responsibility.

Positive impact

We aim to make a positive impact in many ways: through our brands, our commercial operations and relationships, through voluntary contributions, and through the various other ways in which we engage with society.

Continuous commitment

We're also committed to continuously improving the way we manage our environmental impacts and are working towards 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 Code of Business Principles which describes the operational standards that everyone at Unilever follows, wherever they are in the world. The Code also supports our approach to governance and corporate responsibility.

Working with others

We want to work with suppliers who have values similar to our own and work to the same standards we do. Our Supplier Code, aligned to our own Code of Business Principles, comprises eleven principles covering business integrity and responsibilities relating to employees, consumers and the environment.

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.


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.

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.


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.

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 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.

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

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