Unilever, the owner of Ben & Jerry’s and Dove, is every worker in its global supply chain with a living wage.

Chief Procurement Officer David Ingram told CNN Business that the living wage initiative will extend to 65,000 direct suppliers and several thousand agricultural companies. Unilever (The) It is one of the largest FMCG companies in the world and its supply chain boasts over 1.5 million farmers, according to its website.
In a statement, the Owner Ben & Jerry’s and Dove It has also pledged to spend 2 billion euros ($ 2.4 billion) annually by 2025 with suppliers owned and managed by individuals from unrepresented groups, including women and blacks, up from 300 million euros ($ 363 million) currently.
“The two biggest threats the world faces right now Climate change And social inequality. The company’s chief executive, Alan Job, said the past year had undoubtedly widened the social divide.
The coronavirus pandemic has exacerbated global inequality and this is expected to do so Increasing extreme poverty Defined as living on less than $ 1.90 a day – for the first time in more than two decades, according to the World Bank. The risks of inequality in access to vaccines between rich and poor countries Exacerbation of the split.
This will only increase pressure from activists and consumers on companies to address inequality. Many clothing retailers, including H&M (HNNMY) And the Asus (Asumi), They have committed to paying living wages in their clothing supply chains. Major German supermarket chains, including Aldi and Lidl, last year signed a voluntary agreement to boost living wages in their supply chains.

But few companies It owns the global company Unilever. The consumer goods giant sells more than 400 brands in 190 countries and uses its products by 2.5 billion people.

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Unilever said the living wage should allow workers to break the cycle of poverty. She added, “It allows individuals to afford an adequate standard of living, which covers the basic needs of the family: food, water, housing, education, health care, transportation and clothing; and includes provision for unexpected events.”

Commitment forms part of the company’s sustainability goals, which include plans for Getting rid of fossil fuels In its own laundry and cleaning brands and manufactures all of its 70,000 products Biodegradable Over the next decade.

Priority will be given to countries in Africa, South America, and other countries that supply Unilever commodities, such as India, Malaysia, and Indonesia.

Martha and Richard Anker, Associates Global Living Wage Alliance My creators Methodology deny To estimate the living wage, he said that Unilever’s commitment is a “very positive step” by a leading company that could set an example for other companies.

“It is important that this be done with complete transparency [and] They told CNN Business that the livelihood and wage targets that they have set in different parts of the world are set independently … and Unilever is not in any way setting itself or influencing.

Unilever currently requires its suppliers to pay the statutory minimum wage. Ingram said it will work with NGOs, suppliers, other companies and governments to try to set living wages for the countries in which it operates.

“The essence of what we’re trying to do is to make a systemic change [and] Broad enough that sectors and governments are ideal for living wages as a normal norm, “Ingram said.

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Cost of living wage

Living wages are often well above the minimum wage, which can be very low in poor countries. In Ivory Coast, where Unilever acquires cocoa beans for Magnum ice cream, the rural living wage for 2020 was 68% higher than the national minimum wage, according to To report By the Global Living Wages Alliance.

Asked whether Unilever’s margins would be shrinking due to its commitment to a living wage, Ingram said there would be a cost to the company and its suppliers but would be “absorbed into the value chain”, and in some cases covered by helping suppliers be more productive.

For example, developing sustainable farming systems in poor countries can increase crop yields and increase farmers’ incomes. “We are not sure exactly what this gap and cost will be, but what we are sure is that the consumer will not pay more in the end.”

But the International Fair Trade Organization said the price should be “an integral part of any commitment to live wages” to avoid negative impacts on producers and their workforce. “There is a correlation, for example, between very low wages on tea plantations and consumer prices,” said Wilbert Flinterman, senior adviser on labor rights and union relations for CNN Business.

“Fully bridging the living wage gap will depend on commitment and cooperation between different actors across the supply chain – from producers to dealers and retailers,” he said.

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