Have a vision
I came to nutrition after marketing foods for eight years: I wanted to contribute more. I had a vision of better diets for smallholders working in Unilever’s supply chains, and kept that seed of an idea in focus. At that time, Unilever’s leadership was taking a greater interest in sustainability, so the environment was conducive. You need to find the sweet spot: the alignment between your own purpose, what your organisation stands for, and what is needed in society.
Be a pioneer
It can be daunting to pitch something new to the business. A key to success was identifying a small group of like-minded colleagues, ‘pioneers’ within the business who were on board with the sustainability agenda. Step by step, we have collected evidence and raised awareness around the importance of the right nutrition for workers and their families in our own operations and extended value chains. Our small ecosystem of ‘pioneers’ grew until we reached a tipping point: the idea of resilient value chains and a sustainable business has now become the norm.
Make the business case
What’s in it for the business? This must be clear. Of course, providing healthy diets for workers is the right thing to do. But as the largest tea buyer in the world Unilever also relies on a functioning and resilient value chain, and you can’t have that without healthy farmers and workers. Equally, consumers increasingly want to know about the impact companies have behind their brands. Unilever takes this seriously: brands without a purpose won’t have a future. We found that these points made a business case for action.