CSR departments are redundant, says Unilever's Weed

Keith Weed: chief marketing officer at Unilever
Keith Weed: chief marketing officer at Unilever

Brands should build corporate social responsibility (CSR) into all their working practices rather than have standalone CSR departments, according to Keith Weed, Unilever chief marketing officer.

Weed laid out Unilever's philosophy at today's (29 November) annual Marketing Society conference, as he explained how Unilever would achieve its aim of doubling the size of its business, while reducing its environmental impact

He said: "We don’t have a CSR department – if you have a CSR department, then it's an add-on.

"Sustainability is something we do from day to day. Employees who are engaged perform better – they need to be engaged in something and believe in something."

He stated Unilever's ambition to drive growth of the business by catering to consumers' needs, sparked by the booming global population.

Weed added: "The only sustainable growth is consumer-demanded growth. Clearly, in a resourcefully strained world we need to think about environmental and social responsibility."

Unilever would focus heavily on sanitation products because of the expected growth of urban slums.

One such product the FMCG giant is putting its weight behind in developing markets is Lifebuoy, which was first launched as a reaction to the slums of Victorian England.

Weed claimed the firm's factories only produced a small proportion of greenhouse gases during the lifecycle of a product.

The manufacturing of the product in factories contributed 3% of greenhouse gases, whereas the collection of the raw materials contributed 26% and customers using the products gave off 68% of the greenhouse gases, he said.

Unilever wanted to help suppliers and customers reduce the environmental impact of products before and after they enter its factories.

This push will involve all Lipton teabags being sourced sustainability by 2015.
Follow Matthew Chapman on Twitter @mattchapmanuk

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