Unilever has been named as the most successful brand among the FT 500 for meeting its philanthropic goals, according to a recent study by Radley Yeldar.
Unilever’s sustainability strategy was found to have made the biggest impact of all the companies listed in the FT 500 and the FTSE Eurofirst 100, having achieved the goals set out in its ‘making sustainable life commonplace’ mission statement.
Radley Yeldar ranked the British-Dutch multinational consumer goods company number 1 on its Fit for Purpose Index 2015 which assesses and ranks companies based on how they live up to the altruistic promises set out in their brand purpose.
The success of Unilever’s Bright Future project was the main driver behind its number 1 ranking. The ongoing initiative is a partnership with the WWF and promotes sustainable manufacturing of its products and a pledge of zero deforestation in doing so.
In assessing the strength and impact of Unilever- whose brands include Dove and Domestos- and other companies’ commitment to improving the world Radley Yeldar assessed the quality of purpose statements, and the extent to which they were embedded into external communications, behaviour and performance. This involved looking at the brand’s websites, reports, corporate campaigns and social media accounts.
Unilever’s chief executive Paul Polman is quoted in the report as saying “we can no longer pretend that business can immunise itself from the rising tide of environmental challenges. We see this as the best long term way for us to grow and bring benefits to all our stakeholders. To succeed in this goal, we need to change the way we do business and to scale up the impact on the issues that matter most”.
Radley Yeldar found this statement was at the forefront of Unilever’s actions with each individual product brand aligning itself with the goals. The report states that “fact that their purposeful consumer brands have contributed to half of the business’s overall growth, growing twice as fast as other brands in the portfolio, is proof of this successful move.”
Philips and Lloyds Banking Group were ranked second and third respectively. Philip’s brand purpose statement of “improving people’s lives through meaningful innovation” was evident in its behaviour.
The Dutch technology company set an ambitious target to improve three billion lives a year by 2025 and created a series of measures to get there. In working towards this goal they introduced seven new Healthcare green products in 2014 designed to improve patient outcomes and expand access to care; green product sales reached 52% of total sales and 55% of the company’s energy usage came from renewable sources.
Lloyds banking group grabbed the third spot on the index with their “Helping Britain Prosper” brand promise which aims to enhance Britain’s economic and social wellbeing. The banking group spelled out its approach The Plan which Plan is updated yearly with indications of Lloyds Banking Group’s achievements and what it will take to reach the goals they’ve set for the future. For example, one of their metrics is the ‘increased amount of new funding support provided to UK manufacturing businesses per year’. They have achieved their 2014 target for this, setting a 2015 target of £1 billion alongside a 2017 target of £4 billion.
Consulting director at Radley Yeldar, Ben Richards, said businesses were “on the right track” by trying to positively impact on aspects of society” however the report “identifies how hard it is for these companies to translate their intentions into reality and prove their commitment”.
He added that “a purpose statement might once have been manufactured in a corner of an organisation and used on the cover of the corporate brochure: this is no longer good enough. For purpose to be effective it must be an authentic part of every interaction and businesses are well placed to be a genuine force for change, something we’ve seen consumers respond to and support.”