Top Stories

March 09, 2021


Unilever drops word 'normal' from beauty products and bans excessive editing of models

Unilever will drop the word "normal" from its beauty products and ban excessive editing of models' photos in a push for inclusivity. The owner of beauty and personal care brands, including Dove, Lifebuoy, Axe and Sunsilk will apply the editing ban to "body shape, size, proportion and skin colour" and will remove the word "normal" from 200 products. The actions form part of its new ‘Positive Beauty’ strategy, which follows years of allegations that Unilever has promoted stereotypes around dark skin tones. The strategy also commits Unilever to protecting and regenerating a million and a half hectares of land, forests, and oceans by 2030 – the size of which is equivalent to the amount of land needed to grow all the renewable ingredients in Unilever's beauty and personal care products. (BBC News; Business Green)


Temasek commits $500m to impact investing specialist LeapFrog Investments

Singapore state-backed investment company Temasek has made a $500 million allocation to funds that will target social and environmental challenges, managed by specialist impact investment firm Leapfrog Investments. Temasek’s investment represents the single biggest commitment to date in a specialist impact manager, and the firm hopes it will encourage other large institutional investors to move into impact investing. LeapFrog-backed companies are dedicated to providing healthcare or financial tools for resource-deprived communities across the world. Temasek’s commitment is part of a growing trend in institutional investors turning to impact investing. Prudential Financial, Zurich Insurance, TPG and KKR are the latest in a series of asset managers each allocating sums exceeding $1 billion to impact investment projects. (Financial Times*)


Goldman Sachs pledges net-zero supply chain by 2030 and financed emissions by 2050

Banking major Goldman Sachs has updated its sustainable finance commitments to target net-zero financed emissions by 2050, and has confirmed it will develop interim, sector-specific climate targets by the end of 2021. The firm has also committed to reaching net-zero emissions across its supply chain by 2030, having previously only including direct operations in its ambition. The new commitments come after accusations that the bank’s prior climate pledges did not go far enough. Goldman Sachs was accused by advocacy group InfluenceMap, along with other asset management firms, of failing to drive alignment with the Paris Agreement in its portfolio and policy lobbying. Goldman Sachs has not yet revealed whether it will update its exclusions policy as a result of the new targets. (Edie)


Biden signs executive orders to advance gender equality in organisations and education

US President Joe Biden has signed two executive orders to establish the White House ‘Gender Policy Council’ and address sexual violence in the education field. The White House Gender Policy Council will be tasked with combating systemic bias and discrimination, including sexual harassment, which involves tackling challenges like structural barriers to women's participation in the labour force, wage and wealth gaps, and caregiving in families. Health care concerns, equal opportunity in leadership and promoting gender equality worldwide through diplomacy will also fall under the Council's purview. The second order will review regulations and guidance to guarantee students education free from sexual violence. The orders, signed on International Woman's Day, will require engagement with non-profit and community-based organisations, state and local government officials, tribal nations, foreign government officials and multilateral organisations. (CNN)


Almost 80% of UK bank directors have connections to high-emitting corporates

Almost 80% of directors at the UK's biggest banks, including Barclays, HSBC, Lloyds, Standard Chartered and Natwest, have close ties to corporates in industries linked to climate change and pollution - which could undermine the companies’ net-zero commitments. Analysis conducted by investigative environmentalist platform DeSmog, has found of the 64 incumbent directors at the UK’s biggest banks investigated, almost one-quarter have a current or past connection to the fossil fuel industry. Links include being a current director, advisor, former senior-level employee, or holding significant amounts of shares. When the scope is widened to other high-emitting sectors including mining and aviation, and US-based banks that have historically backed the fossil fuel industry, almost 80% of directors are covered. All of the banks in the report have climate commitments, including net-zero pledges. (Edie)

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2021 Actions for Business