Please read the case study “Unilever “Enhancing Livelihoods” through Project Shakti” from the chapter 4 of the Business ethics textbook that you find in the reading assignment.
Based on what you have learned in this unit, answer the following questions:
- Do you believe Unilever sponsors the Shakti program to help women, to boost its own profits, or both? Explain your answer.
- If Unilever has mixed motives, does this discredit the company in your eyes? Should it?
- How is this program an example of both corporate and personal sustainability?
- Could this model program be duplicated elsewhere, in another area and with different products? Why or why not?
Unilever “Enhancing Livelihoods” through Project Shakti
According to management guru Peter Drucker, whose ideas significantly contributed to the foundations of thought about the workings of the modern business corporation, workers “need to know the organization’s mission and to believe in it.” How do organizations ensure this commitment? By satisfying workers’ values.
A program undertaken by Unilever, the Dutch-British multinational company co-headquartered in Rotterdam and London, illustrates the kind of values-oriented corporate endeavor Drucker describes. Project Shakti is a Unilever CSR initiative in India that links corporate social responsibility and financial opportunities for local women.
It is considered a leading example of micro-entrepreneurship, and it expands the concept of sustainability to include not only environmental issues but also economic opportunity and financial networking in underdeveloped areas.
The goal, according to Unilever, is to give rural Shakti women the ability to earn money for themselves and their families as micro-entrepreneurs. Unilever’s subsidiary in India, Hindustan Lever, has started training programs for thousands of women in small towns and villages across India to help them understand how to run their own small sole proprietorships as distributors of the company’s products. With support from a team of rural sales managers, women who had been unable to support themselves are now becoming empowered by learning how a supply chain works, what products Hindustan Lever produces, and how to distribute them. The sales managers also act in a consulting capacity to help with business basics, money management, negotiations, and related skills that help the women run their businesses effectively.
The program was so successful that Unilever expanded it to include Shakti men, typically the sons, brothers, or husbands of the women already running businesses. The men, who are essentially like delivery drivers, sell Unilever products using bicycles for transportation, enabling them to cover a larger area than women cover on foot. The women spend most of their time running the business.
Project Shakti has enlisted more than 100,000 rural participants, which includes about 75,000 women. The project has changed their lives in ways that are profound, and not only because of the income earned. The women now have increased self-esteem based on a sense of empowerment, and they finally feel they have a place in Indian society. According to the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan, Project Shakti is one of the best and most sustainable ways the company can address women’s social concerns. It allows Unilever to conduct business in a socially responsible manner, helping women to help themselves while extending the reach of its products.
Learning Journal Requirements
Submit a written paper that is a minimum of one typewritten page (no less than 400 words) with an introduction and conclusion. This paper shall demonstrate the use of standard written English with respect to organization, grammar, spelling, composition, sentence structure, punctuation, and construction. The paper should cite sources to support your ideas.