Speaking at the event, Unilever chief executive officer Paul Polman said, “We have long known about the many challenges we are facing as a society: inequality, poverty, youth unemployment and climate change. The list is long. I have always believed that business has power to influence these issues, and the communities impacted. Here in the U.S., we know it is critical to address the issue of inequality and homelessness.”
Since its founding, Unilever has been on a mission to make cleanliness commonplace and believes that no one should be denied access to hygiene resources. With the lack of consistent, safe hygiene services available to those living on the streets, and the transformative impact these services can provide, the company saw a powerful opportunity to make a difference.
“While we know homelessness is a complex and systemic issue, we’ve learned that health and hygiene play a critical role in helping people feel able to move through the world and be seen,” said Esi Eggleston Bracey, executive vice president and chief operating officer of personal care for Unilever North America. “For this reason, dignity is at the core of the mission Unilever is building, with today as an important first step.”
To better understand how it could make an impact, Unilever partnered with Lava Mae, the largest mobile shower organization in the U.S., which has provided more than 58,000 showers to more than 15,000 guests in California since its launch in 2014 and has also inspired 100+ mobile hygiene services modeled after its own. Over the past year, Unilever has provided direct financial support for Lava Mae as well as likeminded organizations such as Streetside Showers, Organization of Hope, Project Outpour and Brooklyn Community Services. These investments will help build additional mobile shower units and sustain operations in San Francisco, Dallas, Baltimore, Charlotte and Brooklyn respectively. The long-term goal is to build a nationwide network of providers delivering regular, safe, free hygiene and wellbeing services to all those experiencing housing instability.
As Unilever introduces this commitment the company hopes to be part of a broader movement to impact homelessness. Visit UnileverUSA.com to learn more about the impact that can be made to the lives of those living on the streets.