Strategic Comms Awards

Best annual report – FTSE 100 organisation

Purpose-led, future-fit
Annual report 2020

In early 2021, Unilever launched the Unilever Compass, a new strategy that integrated its business and sustainability strategies into one.

The Unilever Compass builds on the past ten years of the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan, drawing on its successes and failures, and is underpinned by the belief that sustainable and purposeful businesses drive superior long-term performance.

This message became more imperative in recent years. While Covid-19 focused attention on the global healthcare crisis, it also highlighted the fragility of the world, with challenges such as climate change and inequalities becoming more important.

Unilever wanted to use its 2020 annual report, Purpose-led, Future-fit, to introduce the Unilever Compass but also to demonstrate how its multi-stakeholder model, based on the six groups identified as critical to its success, guided its response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Unilever Compass is introduced on page eight and is then used to demonstrate how Unilever’s strategic choices and actions will help the company to fulfil its purpose and vision.

This section sets out the brand commitments implicit in the Compass – improve the heath of the planet; improve people’s health; confidence and wellbeing; and contribute to a fairer, more socially inclusive world – with specific targets for each, such as pioneering new models to provide employees with flexible options by 2030 and communicating a carbon footprint for each product sold.

The report is later organised around Unilever’s six stakeholder groups, ranging from its people to customers and shareholders. The company demonstrates how it has created value with, and for, its stakeholders throughout the year, as well as how it supported each throughout the pandemic.

For example, in China it fast-tracked the launch of Domestos bleach while in Italy it rolled out a new medical hygiene spray. Lifebuoy, one of the world’s biggest soap brands, was introduced into 58 new markets, but also donated more than 30 million bars to refugees and vulnerable people around the world.

The report also highlights two specific areas of concern to Unilever’s stakeholders – plastic and climate – and provides further information, as per the TFCD framework. It is also open in its progress against 2020 non-financial targets.

The report is clearly laid out, with pull out quotes and statistics, and illustrative case studies. It also clearly signposts where further information is available on its website.