LONDON – British consumer goods giant Unilever pledged Thursday to pay workers in its supply chain a decent wage by the end of the decade, warning that the coronavirus pandemic has deepened social inequality.
Unilever unveiled a raft of commitments to improve conditions for all workers across its supply base, following the group’s other recent initiatives to become more socially responsible and also help tackle climate change.
The firm, which has experienced strong demand for its hand cleaners and household cleaning products during the pandemic, said it will seek to ensure that “everyone… who directly provides goods and services to the company earns at least a living wage or income, by 2030”.
Unilever also produces top-selling brands including Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, Dove soap, Lipton tea and Marmite yeast spread.
“The two biggest threats that the world currently faces are climate change and social inequality,” Chief Executive Alan Jope said in a statement.
“The past year has undoubtedly widened the social divide, and decisive and collective action is needed to build a society that helps to improve livelihoods, embraces diversity, nurtures talent, and offers opportunities for everyone.
“We believe the actions we are committing to will make Unilever a better, stronger business; ready for the huge societal changes we are experiencing today — changes that will only accelerate.”
Thursday’s news comes almost two months after Unilever became a wholly British company following the completion of a historic merger of its Dutch and British entities that ended its double-headed corporate structure.
Unilever PLC is now headquartered in London under a unification strategy designed to make it more responsive to economic challenges, including coronavirus.
The company’s food and refreshments division continues to be based in Rotterdam, while Britain remains the base for both its home care and its beauty and personal care units.