It has been 100 days since Hein Schumacher came to the helm of the British consumer goods giant Unilever, the maker of Dove soap, Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, Domestos bleach and many more household brands. On Schumacher’s first day in the office, the company was declared an “international sponsor of war” by the Ukrainian government due to Unilever’s “significant tax contribution” to the Russian state budget, which promotes “the continuation of Russia’s war against Ukraine.”
Responding to this designation and the growing public pressure that followed, the new CEO made a promise to look at Unilever’s Russia business with “fresh eyes.” Yet, 100 days have passed with no response from the company, despite loud and clear calls from civil society and the British media to withdraw from the aggressor state.
During the last 100 days, Russia committed war crimes including:
On average, Russia kills six Ukrainian civilians and wounds 20 every single day. More than 10,000 people have died and tens of thousands have been injured since the full-scale invasion.
Businesses today are not passive bystanders or observers. Continuing business operations in Russia is a tacit endorsement of the ongoing war and a direct association with the suffering and aggression inflicted on the Ukrainian people. Every day spent operating in Russia further undermines Unilever’s reputation and the reputation of other global fast-moving consumer goods companies (FMCGs) such as Mondelez International, PepsiCo, Mars, Procter & Gamble or Nestlé. Delaying an exit only perpetuates their complicity in over 100,000 recorded war crimes.
Unilever: The world is watching, and history will remember this choice.
B4Ukraine continues to urge Unilever’s leadership to consider all possible options for a swift exit, including finding a suitable buyer for its Russia business operations as well as dropping the keys and leaving, while pursuing international arbitration. After 100 days of looking at the matter with “fresh eyes,” it’s time for decisive action.