Unilever certifies as a B Corp in Australia and New Zealand

Brands made by Unilever ANZ include Paula's Choice, Simple, OMO and Sunsilk

The business announced the certification on Wednesday (24 August), confirming that it had passed its B Impact Assessment. The Assessment measures the positive impact an organisation has in five fields, namely environmental impact; interaction with workers; interaction with communities; impact on customers and good governance. Topics relating to both day-to-day operations and long-term plans and business models are taken into account.

edie has reached out to Unilever ANZ to request a copy of its B Impact Assessment. These are required to be made publicly available.

Around 460 businesses in Australia and New Zealand have certified as B Corps. Globally, a further 4,900+ have certified. Most of these are SMEs, as B Lab, the body overseeing B Corp certification, originally targeted its work in this field. It is yet to launch certification for large multinational businesses; this is in the pipeline.

“When businesses of the size and scale of Unilever Australia & New Zealand certify, it shows just how much the idea of business delivering positive impact on people and planet has grown,” said B Lab Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand’s chief executive Andrew Davies. “Their certification sends a powerful signal that will further advance change in the consumer goods sector, and our broader global economic system.”

Strategic approach

Unilever ANZ stated that the global company’s overarching corporate and sustainability strategy, The Compass, has proved “integral” to the identification and implementation of changes that have improved its B Impact Assessment score to the point of certification.

The Compass was launched in 2020 and is headlined by an overarching vision of becoming “the global leader in sustainable business”, ensuring that all parts of the business are “purpose-led” and “future-fit”.

On the environmental side of things, the Compass is supported Unilever’s Climate Transition Action Plan – its roadmap to reaching net-zero value chains by 2039 that has been backed by more than 99% of its shareholders. It also includes updated ambitions on issues including packaging and waste, gender equality, human rights and social inclusion.

Environmental actions already taken by Unilever ANZ under the compass include procuring 100% renewable electricity in operations; reaching zero-waste-to-landfill status for factories and piloting regenerative agriculture methods.

“We’re thrilled to achieve B Corp Certification, as both a validation of the actions we’ve implemented across Australia & New Zealand, and a motivator to strive even further,” said Unilever ANZ’s chief executive Nicky Sparshott, adding that she and her team are “already planning how we can turbocharge our positive impact”.

Sparshott added that the business will need to work collaboratively with suppliers, staff and communities to maintain its certification and encourage other businesses to follow suit. All B Corps are required to re-certify every three years.

The news will doubtless fuel the debate around which companies should be able to certify as B Corps. When Nespresso certified earlier this year, many SMEs which have been B Corps for years questioned whether a Nestle-owned entity, or a company sourcing coffee from regions facing systemic human rights issues, should be able to certify.

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