After greenwashing, blue-washing?

Companies blue-wash their image

No, we are not talking about jeans again, but about the UN global compact. Everyone is recently talking about the term « Blue-washing ». But what exactly is it?

Many companies associate themselves with the United Nations global compact. They use the blue « UN global compact » sign in order to demonstrate sustainable corporate governance. Although, those exact same companies are also sued for actions like : Child labor, slavery and corruption.

« Blue-washing is the human rights equivalent of greenwashing »


The original idea of ​​the Global compact is based on decades of cooperation between the United Nations and the private sector. It is a policy initiative for companies which want to align their operations with ten internationally accepted principles in the fields of:

  • Human rights
  • Labour standards
  • Environment
  • Anti- Corruption

The blue sign is used as a marketing strategy

Easy to sign and litte to show for it

For example, the multinational company Nestlé is a participant of the UN global compact. This swiss company writes in their mission statement and on their website that they respect the 10 principles of the compact. Although, this food and beverages company has had many law suits for child labor in their cocoa supply-chain.

« Our own Corporate Business Principles incorporate the 10 UNGC Principles and we reflect the basic concepts of fairness, honesty and respect for people and the environment in our business actions. »

Nestlé / Global Website
Nestlé sued for perpetuating child labor

Nestlé, H&M, L’Oréal and all of the many other companies who only use the Global compact as a marketing strategy think they will earn more public acceptance. In spite of this fact, blue-washing has been the cause of a lot of criticism. However, until now there are no real sanctions for the companies which blue-wash their image.


Author: Milena Zosso




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