“Impact” can bear different meanings to specific people and contexts. Particularly at Unilever, the impact statement that the business is pursuing is “making sustainable living commonplace”.
“Our compass is to bring sustainability to every home. This is our corporate DNA. Because sustainable development does not only appear at Unilever, but a country and society also need to develop sustainably to drive the growth of businesses,” said Ms. Nguyen Thi Bich Van, Unilever Vietnam Chairwoman.
Unilever Vietnam Chairwoman to take sustainability as the corporate DNA
Putting its first step in Viet Nam in 1995, Unilever has accompanied and grown with the country in both economic and social aspects through the mission of improving hygiene, health and beauty for millions of Vietnamese people with purposeful products, as well as creating more positive impacts on the environment and people's lives.
Sustainable development is the driving force for business growth. Unilever Vietnam Chairwoman shared an example to demonstrate this. When Unilever's Sunlight brand implements the programme “Women do business” to help women - especially in rural areas - equip themselves with business knowledge and revolving capital to improve their livelihoods, the company is not only contributing to social development but also helping raise consumers’ brand love - this drives the growth of the business.
“Talent is seeking employment with responsibilities for the society and environment,” said Ms. Bich Van. And talent is the driver of business growth.
Local context impact
Basically, Unilever's sustainability strategies in Viet Nam align with the global sustainable development program.
For successful implementation in each country, the company needs to understand the cultural, social and economic context, as well as the country’s capabilities and infrastructure. These factors require appropriate adjustments regarding implementation and optimisation approaches to fit the actual situation. Meanwhile, it also opens up opportunities for the corporation to have a holistic view of our sustainable development goals, thereby providing proper coordination and support to each market.
In Viet Nam, specifically, “greenhouse gas reduction” sounds quite abstract to many people. To concretise this, Unilever is required to start from the most basic things in the company’s own operations.
The company has transitioned to using biomass fuel and solar energy instead of diesel and fossil fuels in the factory, and built green facilities with IREC renewable energy certificates to reduce indirect emissions from electricity consumption.
In addition, awareness of the importance of sustainable development and resources to implement are still limited, especially for small and medium enterprises.
In acknowledging this, besides promoting its own sustainability strategies, initiatives and commitments, Unilever inspires and is open to cooperating with think-alike businesses and organisations to jointly spread the message and create greater impact.
Specifically, more than 75 per cent of the carbon footprint in Unilever Vietnam’s supply chain derives from input materials and activities outside the company’s boundaries. Therefore, Unilever has expanded the scope to the entire value chain through raising awareness and collaborating with partners and suppliers to together develop and implement greenhouse gases reduction solutions, targeting to net zero in the whole value chain by 2039.