The Dove, Persil and Lynx owner, now asks all new brand managers to complete a week-long sustainability challenge as part of their foundation course. It has also integrated sustainability into existing training provided to staff and graduates across the firm.
The news comes as Unilever reports its progress two years on from launching its 10-year Sustainable Living Plan.
Unilever says it is making “good progress in areas it can control” including reducing greenhouse gas emissions and sourcing raw materials from sustainable sources.
Despite the progress, it maintains one of the biggest challenges it faces is how to encourage consumers to use its products more sustainably at home. A year ago, Keith Weed told Marketing Week one of the most difficult areas of progress was how to use marketing to encourage behaviour change.
Elsewhere, it has also “accelerated the integration of sustainability into the heart” of its biggest brands, citing the relaunch of its Dove self esteem programme for young people.
Unilever claims that brands which have made sustainability central to their brand proposition or product innovation accelerated sales during 2012, which it says proves sustainability can drive growth.
It cites its Lifebuoy soap achieving double digit growth in each of the last three years following the roll out of its hand washing hygiene programmes as an example.
As part of its efforts, Unilever is also looking to work with retailers and other organisations to help consumers make more sustainable choices in supermarkets and in the way they use products. It is currently running a social experiment to encourage six UK households to find ways to be more sustainable in the home.
CEO Paul Polman says: Paul Polman, CEO of Unilever: “Sustainability is contributing to our virtuous circle of growth. The more our products meet social needs and help people live sustainably, the more popular our brands become and the more we grow. And the more efficient we are at managing resources such as energy and raw materials, the more we lower our costs and reduce the risks to our business and the more we are able to invest in sustainable innovation and brands.”
“The world continues to face big challenges. The lack of access of many to food, nutrition, basic hygiene and sanitation, clean drinking water or a decent job should be a concern to all of us. We firmly believe business has a big role to play in striving for more equitable and sustainable growth, but large-scale change will only come about if there is real collaboration between companies, governments and NGOs across all these areas.”