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Strategic Approach of Unilever


In the modern era, corporate social responsibility (CSR) has become very important part of a business operations and activities. Further, organizations that remains committed to their corporate social responsibilities are able to enhance their image and reputation in the marketplace (Hopkins, 2012). It can be stated that accomplishment of CSR activities also results in boosting up employee engagement and attracting investors for long term growth and development. The present report explains .  The second part of this report highlights key recommendations which are provided upon Unilever’s corporate social responsibility.

Brief profile of the company

Founded in the year 1930, Unilever is a British-Dutch multi-national consumer good company which operates in different nations of the world. At present the brand is offering wide range of products and services to its customers and its portfolio mainly includes personal care products, cleaning agents, food and beverages etc. In terms of revenue it can be stated that Unilever is third largest company in the world in consumer goods sector. Present Unilever is carrying out its business operations with more than 400 brands in different countries all across the globe. Apart from this, rather than looking only for higher profits and sales, the selected organization also seeks for making sustainable living commonplace.

Current CSR strategy across national context

Unilever is considered as one of the largest fast moving consumer goods supplier and presently selling its products in more than 100 nations. At the carrying out its operations, the brand also lays emphasis on accomplishment of its corporate social responsibility. For this purpose, Unilever has adopted for a sustainable approach for growth and development. It also seeks for establishing long term relationship with all its major stakeholders such as employees, customers, government, suppliers, investors etc. Nowadays, the market in which Unilever is carrying out its operations has become highly competitive and it is operating with decentralized structure (Sharma, Sharma and Devi, 2011). This means for every nation, it has adopted different strategy to accomplish its corporate social responsibilities. The selected business organization has been able to meet or satisfy changing expectations of its customers at regular intervals. At the time of operating in any nation, it ensures that its activities or business practises do not have any kind of negative impact on people living in society. For this purpose, Unilever has adopted for an open policy to identify and assess social impact of all its activities. In nations such as UK, Unilever has formulated and implemented sustainable living plan which focuses on three key aspects which are improving health of people, enhancing livelihood and reducing negative impact on environment (Moon, 2014). The brand is also committed to its objective of improving health and hygiene of people in the nation with its products and services by the end of year 2020.  In order to lower down its environment impact, the brand focuses on areas such as water, sustainable sourcing, waste and greenhouse gases. On the other side of this, it can be said that Unilever is also taking care of all its staff members. It aims at establishing fairness at workplace and provide equal growth opportunities to women. Unilever’s strategy in context to the CSR core competency is provided below as:

Voluntary – In last few years, many debates has been carried out on the topic that whether CSR activities for an organization are voluntary or they are considered as mandatory (Nikolaeva and Bicho, 2011). Unilever has always taken care of all its activities and has also exceeded the expectations of society. For example in developing nations such as India, its CSR activities focuses on elements such as improving access to sanitation which is quite beneficial for people living in the society. In products such as Ice cream, Unilever is using vanilla which has been certified as sustainable by Rainforest Alliance which is good for consumer health and well being. The band is also providing income boost education and training to farmers and growers which can help them in overall growth and development. Thus, it can be stated that the activities related to corporate responsibilities of Unilever are more of voluntary in nature instead of being mandatory.

Managing externalities– Businesses are required to make sure that there business practises do not have negative implications on society (Epstein and Buhovac, 2014). Unilever is managing its externalities with the help of different strategies and action plan. The brand is committed towards making a positive and long lasting impact on society and for this purpose it is carrying out wide range of activities. For example in developing nations such as Africa, Unilever is taking corrective measures and educating people regrading the cure and most effective treatment for diseases such as HIV/AIDS which is very common in Africa. Apart from this, Unilever is also working with small and medium entrepreneurs in Indonesia with the purpose of social growth and development. The organization is managing its social responsibility in the same manner as it is managing other aspects of its business practices.

Multiple stakeholder orientation – This element in six core competencies of CSR lays emphasis on taking care of stakeholders interest. Unilever has developed a unique approach in which it works with partnership with major stakeholder in order to achieve its objectives and carry out social development (Mirvis, 2011). Government, customers, suppliers, investors and employees are being encouraged to take part in the process of decision making. Generally research projects, symposia and surveys are the ways through which Unilever engaged its stakeholders. However, it can be argued that the brand is not carrying out such practices in its CSR activities in developed countries such as UK, USA.

Social and economic alignment – Many arguments and researchers has been carried out with an objective to identify whether corporate social responsibilities are carried out by social/economic objective or it is integration of both (Sustainable Living, 2016). For example researcher may explain that after implementing strategy such as sustainable living plan, Unilever profits and sales has increased to a great extent. However, it can be argued that the rise in sales and profits has been achieved by winning heart of customers and going beyond the expectations of all its major stakeholders (Mirvis, 2012).

Practise and values – Unilever has integrated all its corporate social responsibility with its business model and practise. This has supported the brand to carry out smooth flow of operations along with development of society. It has also integrated with UNICEF in Africa to cure children from iodine deficiency. In some under developed countries such as Bangladesh, Unilever has opened hospitals for health and well being. For protecting environment, the selected business enterprise focuses on saving water and energy. It also aims at the making all its manufacturing units and plants as ISO certified (Unilever’s approach to corporate social responsibility, 2000). In developed nations such as USA, its personal and home care division has been able to lower down  consumption of energy. However, it can be argued that even after lowering down energy consumption, Unilever still managed to get 25% rise in its manufacturing which can be considered as outstanding (Global challenges and local action, e.d).

Beyond philanthropy– In order to accomplish all its corporate social responsibilities, Unilever has adopted for a strategic approach. Further, its activities, tasks and business models are being reviewed at regular intervals and changes are also carried out as per need and requirements.

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