7 min read

One year of transformation: Our journey

At RB our journey of transformation to rejuvenating sustainable growth started a year ago. At the time we launched our purpose. We protect, heal and nurture in the relentless pursuit of a cleaner, healthier world. We united behind our fight. To make access to the highest quality hygiene, wellness and nourishment a right, not a privilege. We defined our culture with our compass. We used these foundational elements to guide us as we quickly adapted in support of our customers, consumers, colleagues and communities.   

Our purpose is delivered by RB colleagues

Throughout 2020, colleagues have delivered in extreme circumstances. Whether working from home, or from our production and research facilities, teams kept supplies running and worked closely with customers on their needs throughout the pandemic. To support our teams, we deepened the range of support provided to employees impacted by the pandemic. We are proud that we worked to ensure employment continuity through this period. 

The health, safety and wellbeing of our people is paramount. We published our guides for safe workplaces externally, to share our hygiene expertise in Navigating our new normal. We supported employee wellbeing in a myriad of ways throughout the year. Resources provided ranged from leader-led wellbeing podcasts, to guidelines, training and tips on working from home and how to maintain hygiene standards through the pandemic. We ensured that the Employee Assistance Programme gave global coverage, meaning all employees had access. As a thank you for their extraordinary contributions over the course of the year, we sent hampers and product packages, and gave all colleagues 2 additional days off. 

In early 2021, we have launched a global wellbeing programme with a significant investment over the next 3 years, backed with an online wellbeing hub and ongoing digital conversation platform. Wellbeing is now firmly part of the employee experience. 

While adapting to the changing environment externally, we transformed the culture internally. We established the Stronger Together conversation series for peer-to-peer storytelling about diversity and inclusion (D&I). We established a new D&I board who are using these stories, and external research to inform our diversity and inclusion agenda. 

We introduced the Sir James Reckitt Award - to recognise and celebrate colleagues, teams and sites who have lived our purpose. The first winners were the team from our factory near Wuhan, who kept disinfection production running in extraordinary circumstances through the first lockdown in China. In addition, we have introduced The Compass Awards and The Pinnacle Awards to honour the exceptional efforts of colleagues. Recognition and celebration are now central to our culture - learning from and celebrating each other to create shared success.

The positive changes in our culture have been recognised by the almost 30,000 RB colleagues who responded to our June 2020 survey. The vast majority recommended RB as a place to work, expressing an overwhelming sense of pride about working at RB, double digits above the external benchmark. We continue to actively seek feedback and to move these numbers into increasingly positive territory.   

Our Executive Team analysed how to further build strength on the foundation that our purpose, fight and compass provide. Our new leadership behaviours were developed as a result. They capture the uniqueness of RB, capitalise on our existing strengths and stretch us in areas where we still need to shift the dial. 

We are working to embed these characteristics - a source of our strength - deeper within the company. 

Our purpose is activated through our brands.

Our new Marketing Excellence capability centre partners with marketing teams to ensure that products are increasingly creating value for society. We are building partnerships that support the UN Sustainable Development Goals and the creation of a cleaner, healthier world by meeting growing consumer and customer needs. 

SMART – an innovative refill solution launched by Lysol in 2020 has reduced the use of plastic by 75%  

More than 25,000 US elementary schools were able to reopen thanks to the ‘Lysol HERE for Healthy Schools’ programme 

Also in education, Lysol worked with the UNCF (United Negro College Fund) to provide scholarships for students pursuing studies in public health, nutrition and other STEM related fields. 

Dettol alcohol-free hand sanitiser – using bio-renewable active ingredients, launched in China at the end of 2020 and is due to roll out further over the next 12 months 

Dettol partnered with TFL in London to facilitate a return to commuting. The brand donated product in China, and formed partnerships with household brands from Avis to British Airways to further hygiene practices.  

Through Durex’s global Red partnership, Durex has distributed 370,000 condoms, positively impacted over 50,000 girls’ lives and provided 75,000 HIV tests in Africa.  
The brand has also been working in Russia, South Africa and Mexico, to provide sex education and HIV testing


Through a partnership with National Geographic, Finish is leading on a significant behaviour change campaign that is saving water by encouraging consumers to ‘skip the rinse’ before using their dishwashers 

Air Wick has been using innovation to drive a more sustainable approach. This has resulted in its new Botanica range and Essential Mist, and will have benefits across the product line. 

Vanish is working towards creating a more sustainable fashion industry with its partnership with the British Fashion Council to promote circular fashion practices 

To meet the growing demand from eco-conscious consumers, we launched our first natural-based laundry and multi-purpose cleaning brand in the US, UK, Spain and Portugal in 2020.  

Cillit Bang Naturally Powerful kitchen and bathroom surface cleaners in Germany in May 2020. These use naturally-derived ingredients as well as packaging with 75% recycled material  

Harpic has reached almost 90 million people globally through educational communications around health and hygiene.    

With Water.org, Harpic is empowering families in India, Indonesia, and Kenya with the tools they need to fund their own sanitation solutions. The partnership will change the lives of 925,000 people over five years, particularly women and children living in poverty. The partnership will bring sustainable water supply, improved sanitation and healthy hygiene practices. 

A cleaner, healthier world starts with a healthier planet and combatting climate change.

We made a Climate Change commitment announcing that we would be delivering for the Paris Agreement by 2030. We also shared our ambition to be carbon neutral by 2040, 10 years ahead of the world’s deadline for that milestone. We became one of the first partners to join the Amazon Climate Pledge, agreeing to decarbonize on a faster timeline. We joined the Count Us In coalition, and its goal to inspire 1 billion citizens to significantly reduce their carbon pollution and challenge leaders to deliver bold, global change. 

When we analysed our 2020 performance in the area of climate change: 

  • We’ve reduced carbon (greenhouse gas emissions) per unit of production by more than 50% since 2012, beating our target of 40%  
  • 100% of the electricity we buy in our manufacturing sites in the US, Europe and India is now from renewable sources   
  • We’ve reduced water per unit of production by 39% since 2012, beating our target of 35%  

We united for the communities where we live and work in pursuit of a fairer society.

We started the Fight for Access Fund, committing to an annual investment equivalent to 1% of adjusted operating profit (in excess of £40m). This year those funds were targeted to directly address the spread of COVID-19 where we live and work, including  

  • In 2020, the Fund supported refugees in Jordan and Syria, by pledging £1 million to the International Rescue Committee’s (IRC) response to the COVID-19 pandemic; supporting the IRC’s front-line COVID-19 response in refugee and vulnerable communities in Lebanon, Jordan and Syria; and their Crisis Response Fund, a dedicated fund which supports emergency COVID-19 interventions across 40 countries. 
  • Partnering with the Philippines Red Cross, a donation of P36 million was used to fund a mass testing centre, and tests for 4,500 of the most vulnerable citizens in the Philippines.  
  • People living with HIV in Africa were assisted through a partnership with UNAIDS providing products with a market value of around R42 million.  
  • For the NHS in the UK, we donated Dettol care packages to 50,000 NHS workers all over the UK, starting with those working in NHS hospitals in Nottingham, Hull and Chesterfield; where our product was invented, is developed and is distributed from. 
  • We partnered with Meals on Wheels and donated AU$1M of products for the elderly in Australia.  

We built powerful Partnerships across RB – over the past 12 months, we’ve joined forces with many innovators, NGOs, global corporations and more to truly deliver on our purpose and fight. 

We established The Reckitt Global Hygiene Institute (RGHI), a public health research and innovation hub bringing epidemiology, public health, and behavioural insights together to generate practical, high-quality scientific research that leads to lasting behaviour change. The work of the RGHI includes a global post-doctorate fellowship programme, to create fellowships that will drive improvements in global hygiene, deliver impactful scientific papers and create a new generation of scientific leaders. The application period commenced in January 2021.The RGHI has also sponsored a report by The Economist Intelligence Unit report ‘A life-course approach to hygiene: understanding burden and behavioural changes’. 

Looking back on this first year of our transformation, there is so much we have achieved together. And yet there is much still to do. We’re able to face the challenges of tomorrow, because we’re able to draw upon our vast heritage of science and innovation across our brands, leveraging our experience to chart the course of our future. We have learnt from our past - our successes and our mistakes - and it puts us in a place to face the future with confidence. 


RB’s Full Year Results will be published on 24 February 2021.