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Joint commitment to prevent workplace sexual harassment by IndustriALL, IUF and Unilever

27 January, 2016Sexual harassment is a universal problem, both at the workplace and outside of it. It can damage lives and careers, cause lasting psychological, social and career damage and gravely undermine the working environment. 

Defined as a form of sexual discrimination by the International Labour Organisation and illegal in many countries, it still remains difficult to tackle effectively. Unilever, IndustriALL and IUF, the international trade unions representing the company’s union workforce, have signed a joint commitment to prevent sexual harassment in the workplace.

The agreement

  • Provides a clear, comprehensive definition of sexual harassment to ensure that Unilever management at every level and all employees, including employees provided by third party labour suppliers, are fully aware of what constitutes sexual harassment
  • Sets out procedures through which employees know how to raise a potential issue and can feel confident to report any abuses
  • Specifies the concrete measures the company must follow in the event of a complaint
  • Provides detailed guidelines for implementing the commitment at every Unilever workplace and for evaluating progress

Jyrki Raina, general secretary of IndustriALL, says:

“Sexual harassment is a serious problem that affects working women at all workplaces all over the world. IndustriALL welcomes the opportunity to work together with Unilever, a major multinational corporation, and we hope to use this agreement to successfully stop these abuses against women in Unilever’s plants worldwide.”

IUF general secretary Ron Oswald calls the commitment

“A concrete, practical joint effort to ensure that sexual harassment is effectively combated and the rights of all who work for Unilever are adequately protected in this vital area”, adding that “We look forward to working together with Unilever and our members at the company to ensure that it is implemented, monitored and followed up.”

Paul Polman CEO of Unilever affirms:

“Sexual harassment and other forms of discrimination have no place within Unilever or anywhere else for that matter. Only through their eradication can we create truly diverse and inclusive workplaces. We know that progress is best made through genuine dialogue and trusted and effective ways for workers to raise concerns or complaints. I warmly welcome the support from the IUF, IndustiALL and their members to help us build on our existing work. These issues are not unique to Unilever and therefore to create lasting positive change, we are also engaging with our suppliers, business partners and others in our industry and beyond. We are committed to put all our efforts behind this agreement as we continue to work to respect, uphold and advance human rights”,